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Paul Anastos is president of Mortgage Master, one of the country’s largest privately-owned mortgage companies headquartered in Walpole, Mass. The company, founded by Leif Thomsen in 1988, just agreed to merge with loanDepot LLC the nation’s second largest non-bank consumer lender. Upon closing of the transaction, the loanDepot brands as a combined company will operate 130 retail lending branches across the country, four Web production centers, and employ 3,700 full-time associates including more than 1,200 licensed loan officers serving borrowers in all 50 states. National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently sat down with Paul to get some insight into the merging of these two lending leaders.
Paul, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Could you start by telling us if the Mortgage Master name will remain a standalone brand?
Paul Anastos: Mortgage Master will continue doing business as Mortgage Master. After the transaction is completed, loanDepot LLC will be our corporate parent. We do not plan to change our name and we will simply become a “division of” loanDepot LLC.
Will Mortgage Master continue to expand its retail platform across the U.S.?
Yes ... Mortgage Master will be a retail platform where we operate as a division of loanDepot. As a result, Mortgage Master will benefit from loanDepot’s 50 state license approvals, which will allow us to quickly expand our distributed retail capabilities to new geographies. Additionally, loanDepot’s direct seller status with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae will provide consistent pricing and improved execution for Mortgage Master loan officers to continue to expand our platform across the nation.
What impact will this transaction have on Mortgage Master’s loan officers?
For the most part, our loan officers have not had much direct competition or overlap with any loanDepot brands. Any overlap should be minimal, if any.
loanDepot brings a number of capabilities that can help accelerate Mortgage Master’s continued plan of improved execution and growth, including its 50-state-licensed footprint and direct agency sales with Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and Ginnie Mae that will ensure exceptional pricing.
Through our new agreement, Mortgage Master’s loan officers will be able to offer new products to our customers. For example, beginning in early 2015 as a loanDepot brand, we will be positioned to offer unsecured consumer loans of up to $35,000 to borrowers, which can be amortized for a term of five years or less and approved within 24-48 business hours. The funds could be used for many customer purposes, such as paying down or consolidating debt and performing home improvements. We’ll continue to look for products such as this, which our competitors simply can’t offer.
Will Mortgage Master continue to hire production personnel in 2014 and beyond?
Yes, definitely. We share a similar vision with our colleagues at loanDepot with respect to the industry and how we want to continue to grow. It’s a shared vision of growing long-term and taking advantage of the opportunities that exist for a larger combined entity.
Do you anticipate any cultural or operational integration challenges?
Culturally speaking, both companies have like-minded management teams with like-minded goals. This was one of the single most critical factors for us in making the decision to move forward with loanDepot. Operationally/systematically speaking, we will work to improve support through enhanced technology and infrastructure where we will add items such as greater MSA opportunities, streamlined approval processes for condominiums, internal co-op approvals and much more.
What benefits did Mortgage Master see in the merger with loanDepot?
After careful consideration and extensive discussions, we determined a strategic move like this was by far the best and most efficient solution. As banks continue to withdraw from the mortgage market, a significant opportunity has been created for Mortgage Master and other entities to grow.
We are extremely confident that our brand will benefit greatly by growing through this partnership and continue on as an industry leader. This move positions us to take market share both locally and nationally. Further, as competitors consolidate and struggle to find their way, this partnership keeps us ahead of the market and positions us to win every relationship and deal, maintaining the best product, price, and fulfillment in the industry.
Will the transaction have any impact on Mortgage Master’s growth/expansion plans going forward?
We are confident it will have a positive impact as we expand our reach, enhance our already superior product options, offer a more streamlined process, improve our technology infrastructure and have greater overall support. We hope this translates to continued growth with good people throughout the U.S., while maintaining the reputation and brand name Mortgage Master has built over the last 25 plus years.
Are there any new products or new services that will now be offered to new and existing customers?
Yes. For a while now, we’ve wanted to further develop our relationships with the agencies. This move positions us to immediately offer consistent guidelines and reduced overlays on conforming loans. This derives from a proven model of already selling directly to the GSEs on all conforming, government, and high balance loans. Once loanDepot’s new consumer lending division is launched, we will also be positioned to offer consumer loans for any customers looking to borrow money for debt consolidation, renovations, repairs, furniture, etc.
Do you anticipate any channel conflict to be a byproduct of this transaction?
While we are like-minded, we have virtually no overlap in our business models and the markets we serve. Historically we have been successful because we don’t believe in growing for the sake of growing or cannibalizing our own growth. Therefore, it was extremely important to find a partner that shared our view and had a structure and geographic focus that complemented our own. We intend to run the models independent of one another as we know each of our businesses have unique characteristics and need to be treated as such.
What are the benefits to customers?
We plan to continue to offer our customers a diverse range of products at very competitive rates. In addition, we expect our customers to benefit from favorable pricing opportunities, specifically more competitive high-balance pricing. Our conforming, high-balance conforming and government loan offerings will allow us to offer greater options with little-to-no overlays. Our product menu will also expand to include Fannie Mae HomeStyle/Renovation Products, VA Renovation, and more competitive MI pricing and options, to name a few. Beyond the product benefits, we plan to provide even greater levels of service and unmatched technology to all of our customers through our greater national presence.