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Branch Business Reports Strong Growth

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A mortgage branch operator launched just last year is hiring employees, recruiting new branches and expanding its operations center.

In January 2011, Residential Finance Corp. launched ProLending Network, a retail branching division. The Columbus, Ohio-based company hired Daniel H. Jacobs as president of the division.

Jacobs founded in 1983 1st Metropolitan Mortgage, a net branch business that at its peak reportedly operated 200 branches. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company announced in May 2009 that it was being acquired by Hestia Financial Inc., though it has since vanished.

But under Jacobs’ leadership, RFC has already opened 19 branches and plans to open another five branches by May, according to a statement from RFC. By the end of the year, 20 additional branches are expected to be opened.

A Charlotte operations center has been expanded from 2,000 square feet to 9,200 square feet. The expanded center — which currently houses six underwriters, a licensing staff, a closing department and a director of operations — is expected to grow to a staff of 40 this year.

Jacobs says that the company is “bullish on housing” and about the outlook for originations generated through the retail branch network.

“Our retail branching expansion hinges on leveraging community relationships in local markets for sourcing business,” Jacobs said in the statement. “Therefore, we are expanding primarily with managers and LOs who are considered trusted advisors and experts in the mortgage field among Realtors and other professionals in their respective markets.”

RFC says its branch managers have an average of 14 years’ mortgage experience.

Mark Jaynes, a regional branch manager for three Ohio offices with 40 employees, said in the announcement that he did six months’ research before choosing to join RFC in July 2011. One factor impacting his decision was management that was better qualified to comply with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

Mortgage-industry speaker Barry Habib, who was recently hired as RFC’s chief market strategist, said that he met with 21 companies before aligning with the 15-year-old firm.

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