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Net Branch Expanding

Net Branch Expanding

RPM to add 12 branches this year

July 28, 2006


photo of Patrick Crowley
With the help of an in-house mortgage-banking operation, the owner of a San Francisco-area net branch plans to add 12 more offices this year.Residential Pacific Mortgage says it closed nearly $2.9 billion in loans in 2005 — a 23 percent increase over 2004 — and expects to increase to $3.1 billion by the end of this year.

The 21-year-old company, known as RPM, employs 275 loan agents in 23 offices and will add more than 80 agents this year in 12 new offices, CEO Rob Hirt said in an interview with

The Alamo, Calif.-based broker is continuing to expand in California, Arizona and the Pacific Northwest and for the first time is heading east with plans to open a branch office in Connecticut this year.

Hirt said the key to RPM’s success is its business model.

“We basically run and support the entire back end system,” Hirt said. “Accounting, marketing, IT, Web sites, corporate training and, of course, mortgage banking.

“We run those back end systems with the hope and idea that the broker will send us 100 percent of their business,” he said. “Since we’re doing the work, they may as well send the work to us.”

RPM looks for alliances with branch owners that typically do between $60 million and $70 million in loan originations and employ five to seven loan agents.

“We are more of a community net branch model,” Hirt said. “For us to open a branch, we are essentially teaming up with an existing mortgage operator that is conducive to our line of business.

“Only one out of every 10 applicants who want to join us meets our standards,” he said.

By providing the services it does RPM allows mortgage brokers and loan officers to concentrate on what they do best. But Hirt wants those brokers to only do loans with RPM’s in house mortgage bank, NL Inc.

“We can close the purchase of a loan in 15 calendar days or less,” he said.

Hirt, 45, said he learned how important it is to have quick turnaround in the mortgage business early in his career.

A native of Guam whose mother was Polynesian and whose father was Swiss, Hirt came to California when he was a freshman in high school. He got into the mortgage business when he was 21, answering phones at a friend’s mortgage brokerage.

“I was answering phones, doing some transactions and learning how the business worked,” he said.

When he was 22 he borrowed $5,000 from a friend and set up what he calls “a little prime lending shop” called West Coast Capital.

photo of Rob Hirt
Photo of Rob Hirt
Frustrated that it often took a week or more to receive customers’ credit reports Hirt convinced credit reporting bureaus to sell him their data. He then formed Data Fax, which supplied credit reports to small mortgage brokerages and turned into what Hirt described as “the largest residential mortgage credit reporting company in the western United States” by cutting the turnaround time for getting credit reports to brokers.

Hirt sold the company when he was 28. “I was just spending time sitting on my living room couch, I had some money and I wanted to do something with my life.”

At 30 he got back into the brokerage business with RPM and eventually bought out the former owner.

“I got back to my roots,” Hirt said. “I understand the loan agent and how to help them get ahead by offering this full array of services. I made them the ultimate customer.”

Patrick Crowley is a feature journalist and blogger for He is also a reporter, blogger and columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer.
e-mail Patrick at:

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