This past June, Scotsman Guide released its ninth annual Top Mortgage Lenders rankings. This list of the top 100 U.S. companies, based on their 2020 production volumes, is one of the publication’s most well-known and coveted rankings. It only makes sense that we delve further into the lender rankings to uncover the individuals responsible for these companywide success stories.
Last month, Scotsman Guide shined the spotlight on the wholesale and correspondent channels by publishing lists of the nation’s Top Mortgage Brokers and Top Wholesale Account Executives. This month, in the publication’s first-ever installment of Top Mortgage Bankers, attention has been shifted to a different business model by ranking the nation’s top 150 retail-based originators.
Over the course of last year, these 150 mortgage professionals combined to close about $57.1 billion in retail-channel loans. Many of the names you’ll see on the ensuing pages are familiar ones as they commonly work for the companies that have earned a Top Mortgage Lender designation.
Chicago-based Guaranteed Rate, which finished No. 8 among this year’s Top Mortgage Lenders and did all of its business via the retail channel, earned three of the top five slots on the inaugural Top Mortgage Bankers list. This includes Shant Banosian of Massachusetts at No. 1 ($1.7 billion), Ben Cohen of Illinois at No. 2 ($1.1 billion) and Andrew Marquis of Massachusetts at No. 5 ($836 million).
The remainder of the top 10, however, come from seven different companies. Chris Gallo of NJ Lenders Corp. and Indy Johar of Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp. each did a shade more than $1 billion in business last year to finish third and fourth, respectively.
Sixth place went to Baret Kechian of loanDepot ($825 million). California-based originators claimed the next three spots: Michael McClare of Residential First Mortgage was seventh at $778.1 million; Brian Minkow of Homebridge Financial Services. Inc. was eighth at $645.6 million; and Scott Evans of CrossCountry Mortgage LLC was ninth at $645.2 million. Paul Volpe of Arizona-based NOVA Home Loans rounded out the top 10 with a volume of $612.3 million.
The low interest rate environment spurred rampant refinancing activity throughout 2020. A glance at the Top Mortgage Bankers rankings shows that many originators capitalized on this in some form or another. Of the top 50 people on the list, in fact, 12 didn’t close a single purchase loan last year.
Home-purchase originations, of course, are expected to rise in the coming years, and many of the nation’s top salespeople are already relying on first-time and repeat homebuyers for significant shares of their business. Among the 50 highest-producing mortgage bankers, seven had more than half of their 2020 sales volume tied to purchase loans.
Leading the way with this trend was Timothy Potempa of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp., who saw purchases comprise 90% of his 1,213 closed loans. Matt Weaver of CrossCountry Mortgage wasn’t far behind as 82% of his 1,398 closed loans were purchase transactions. (NP)
Shant Banosian, No. 1 Top Mortgage Banker
Shant Banosian acknowledges the recent growth of the mortgage broker channel and respects what his colleagues have accomplished on that side of the business. Banosian chose a different route, however.
Banosian has worked for more than a decade as a mortgage banker at Guaranteed Rate in the Boston area. It’s worked out well for him. Last year, Banosian ranked as the top mortgage banker in the country in Scotsman Guide’s annual rankings, producing $1.7 billion in volume on 3,551 loans.
“I’ve mastered our model so I know the ins and outs of what our platform offers to our clients,” Banosian said.
He notes that Guaranteed Rate has a core set of loan products but also has relationships with 80 to 90 other banks. That way, he can deliver a laundry list of loan options for his clients for all sorts of scenarios, including vacation homes, jumbo loans or even super jumbo mortgages.
Guaranteed Rate also goes above and beyond to support its originators with competitive rates and intuitive technology, Banosian said. He notes the company helped him double the size of his team last year, with more than 50 people now reporting to him.
He and his team are on pace for an even more successful year in 2021, hoping to break the $2 billion barrier and close more than 4,000 loans.
“This company, they allow me to do what I do best, which is work on my business and act as the CEO, act as a rainmaker,” Banosian said. “What I mean by that is going out and growing the business.” (JD)
Delinquent loans are becoming less common
A report released this past August by CoreLogic showed that the overall U.S. mortgage delinquency rate shrank since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. On a year-over-year basis, the share of all homes with a past-due loan (30 days or more) decreased by 260 basis points to 4.7% in May 2021, although serious delinquencies (90 days or more past due, including homes in foreclosure) jumped by 170 basis points to 3.2% during the same period.
With the expiration of the federal foreclosure moratorium, many stakeholders in the housing industry have expressed concerns about a potentially sharp increase in these real estate seizures. CoreLogic noted, however, that 85% of respondents to a borrower survey reported being employed throughout the pandemic, which is likely to prevent any large-scale crisis. Additionally, U.S. homeowners have record amounts of equity at their disposal, which should allow struggling homeowners to sell their property rather than face foreclosure.
Even in states with above-average delinquency rates compared to the rest of the nation, the share of past-due loans declined considerably during the year ending this past May. Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Maryland and New Jersey each had delinquency rates above 6% at this time, but the rates in each of these states dropped by at least 2.6% percentage points since May 2020. (NP)
Contributors: Jim Davis (JD), Neil Pierson (NP)
Verification: Krista Lowry, Brian Warr