A Florida Community Bank Seeks To Build Nationwide Mortgage Business

Florida’s second largest community bank is expanding its presence in wholesale mortgage lending through its joint venture, Amerant Mortgage LLC, which has hired 28 new employees dedicated to providing products and services to mortgage brokers and their clients.

Amerant Bank launched Amerant Mortgage in January as the majority owner of a joint venture with industry veterans Howard Levine, Tony Eelman, Marshall Martin, and Joe Keel — all former City National Bank executives “with a shared vision of creating a large-scale, highly efficient, and profitable nationwide mortgage banking business,” the company said.

Amerant Mortgage quickly expanded its footprint with the acquisition of Boise, Idaho-based First Mortgage Company Inc. in May. In its most recent quarterly report to investors, Amerant Bancorp Inc. said it paid $1 million for First Mortgage Company, and that “Amerant Mortgage and FMC were ultimately merged, allowing Amerant Mortgage to operate its business nationally with direct access to federal housing agencies.”

Now, less than a year after launch, Amerant Mortgage sees the wholesale channel as another avenue for growth, hiring a team led by industry veterans including Rich Linderman, director of wholesale lending; Dennis Waxman, national wholesale sales director, and Mellissa Rugh, director of wholesale operations.

Howard Levine

“When Amerant Mortgage partnered with Amerant Bank earlier this year, we initially focused on retail offerings as our primary line of business,” said Levine, Amerant Mortgage’s chief revenue officer, in a statement. “As our business evolved, we found an opportunity to accelerate the growth of our wholesale division, which led us to bringing on this accomplished team, who generated a gross loan volume of over $2 billion in the last year, with heavy focus in the purchase market.”

Amerant Bank, which owns a 51 percent stake in Amerant Mortgage, offers mortgages in Florida and Texas, through 17 banking centers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, and seven banking centers in Texas serving Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend and Waller counties.

According to the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry, Amerant Bank employs 129 registered mortgage loan originators, while Amerant Mortgage employs 17 mortgage loan officers and sponsors another four. Amerant Mortgage is licensed in Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico.

During the three months ending Sept. 30, Amerant Mortgage grew by 14 employees, to 52, and generated a $1.5 million net loss for its owners as it received 108 applications and funded 39 loans totaling $17.9 million, Amerant Bancorp said in its third quarter earnings report.

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