Miami Firm Collapses After Line Lost

Mortgage News

Mortgage Daily Staff

                                                 February 27, 2009

A Miami-area mortgage banking firm, which shut down its wholesale operations last summer, has closed its remaining retail operations — leaving more than 100 employees out of work. Like other recent casualties, the company’s demise was tied to the loss of a credit line.

The company, Popular Mortgage Corp., has apparently vacated its office.

Alexander Castellanos, president of Miami-based Advance Capital Services Inc., told MortgageDaily.com that Popular had recently moved from a Doral, Fla., office — where it leased an entire floor — to a building it had purchased in Miami Lakes.

A tenant now is being sought for the Miami Lakes building, according to Castellanos — who is a leader of the Miami area chapter of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Florida.

As recently as early this year, Castellanos said Popular had been trying to recruit additional loan officers.

Popular Mortgage’s two Web sites have been shut down, while one phone has been disconnected and others are not being answered.

President and Chief Executive Officer Henry Salum did not respond to a request for information by e-mail, and his home phone number is unpublished.

Since the closing, Salum reportedly has been selling his firm’s loans to other mortgage companies, Castellanos said.

Salum founded Popular Mortgage in 1995 after leaving Popular Mortgage Servicing Inc., according to a report on a business Web site.

“Popular Mortgage was a “small regional lender within the Miami region,” Jose Caraballo, head of Source One Mortgage’s Coral Gables, Fla., office, told MortgageDaily.com. “I’d estimate they did $20 to $30 million.”

Popular Mortgage Corp. is not tied, however, to Popular Mortgage Servicing or parent Popular Mortgage U.S.A.

Popular Mortgage’s retail operation, like its wholesale operation, was closed when its warehouse line was cut, according to Castellanos.

“If you can’t get the money, you can’t lend the money,” he said, noting, “These are changing times.”

Other mortgage bankers to recently collapse after losing their credit lines include Residential Loan Centers of America Inc., which shut down on Feb. 15 after Countrywide cut off its line; NetMore America Inc., which notified its third-party customers last week that demand had exceeded its lending capacity; and Realty Mortgage Corp., which suspended operations and filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago after it lost a $200 million line-of-credit with Countrywide.

Popular is the 32nd mortgage-related failure this year tracked by MortgageDaily.com.

Mortgage Daily Staff

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