Industry Watch: Guaranteed Rate closes Stearns Wholesale, Redfin boosts lending with Bay Equity purchase and more

Redfin entered into an agreement to acquire Bay Equity Home Loans for $135 million in cash and stock. Bay Equity, which employs roughly 1,200 workers, is a licensed mortgage lender in 42 states. After the deal is closed, all Redfin Mortgage lending operations will be consolidated under the Bay Equity name. Bay Equity’s management team, meanwhile, will continue to operate under the same name. Some Redfin Mortgage employees, including loan officers, will be transferred to Bay Equity. Redfin expects the acquisition to close in second-quarter 2022, pending customary approvals. Redfin also announced that it will eliminate 121 jobs at Redfin Mortgage, primarily in sales support, capital markets and operations.

LoanDepot added new upgrades to its mello Broker Portal, which is scheduled to launch in mid-January. The upgrades are part of the enhanced “Closing Connection” features added to mello in November, which are aimed at streamlining the closing process for brokers and settlement agents. Newly added functions include a simple sign-on screen and one-time credentials setup process; a pipeline view for settlement agents that is organized by email addresses; a new closing calendar; and added functionality for retrieval and uploading of closing documents.

First American Financial Corp. announced the acquisition of Mother Lode Holding Co., which provides title insurance, underwriting and escrow services with 17 operating subsidiaries nationwide. Altogether, Mother Lode subsidiaries have 92 offices in 11 states. Each subsidiary will continue to operate under its existing brand. Mother Lode CEO Randy Bradley, chief operating officer Lisa Steele and president Darrick Blatnick will remain with the company and manage the day-to-day operations.

Stewart Title has acquired a majority interest in Houston-based Great American Title Co., further solidifying Stewart’s footprint for title and escrow services in Texas. The acquisition comes as part of an assertive month for Stewart, which just days ago announced its purchase of Homeland Title in Nashville.

United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) introduced another new prime jumbo loan product, Prime Jumbo Max. According to a statement from the company, the product “offers UWM’s best jumbo pricing yet,” and is available for loans of up to $2.5 million with a maximum 80% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. This product is eligible for primary and second homes, purchases, rate-and-term refinances and cash-out refis. The launch continues UWM’s recent focus on jumbo products, following the debuts of Prime Jumbo, Prime Jumbo ARMs, Prime Jumbo Released and Prime Jumbo Interest Only. UWM also announced an increase to the maximum LTV for Prime Jumbo Released, which rises from 80% to 89.99%.

Guaranteed Rate informed brokers of its plans to shutter Stearns Wholesale Lending, the company’s wholesale channel. The closing comes slightly more than a year after Guaranteed Rate announced its acquisition of Stearns from funds managed by Blackstone. Stearns had more than $20 billion in origination volume in 2020 when it was acquired, and after the deal, Guaranteed Rate integrated Stearns’ retail operations into its own while keeping the wholesale and partnership businesses separate under the Stearns name.

Premier Mortgage Group (PMG) announced a rebranding, adopting the moniker of its parent company, Cherry Creek Mortgage. PMG has been part of the Cherry Creek Mortgage family of brands since 2006. The Premier Community Program, which reinvests into local nonprofit organizations, will continue under Cherry Creek Mortgage branding. Cherry Creek also announced the expansion of its presence in Wyoming by opening a new branch in Rock Springs. Cherry Creek now has four locations in the state, with the Rock Springs location joining branches in Cheyenne, Casper and Sheridan.


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