MYRTLE BEACH — A rebounding real estate market along the Grand Strand has caused area banks to beef up their mortgage departments, leading to opportunities and challenges for other bankers along the Grand Strand.
South Atlantic Bank recently hired Travis Minter, formerly of CresCom Bank, to be its senior vice president and director of mortgage banking. Minter took two CresCom mortgage vice presidents with him, creating openings that have been filled by a local Bank of America executive.
Mark Branstrom, one of Bank of America’s loan originator giants nationally, brought along four of his BofA cohorts when he was named president of CresCom Bank’s Retail Mortgage Group.
The moves are all a result of the Grand Strand’s improving real estate market and the push by area banks to position themselves to take advantage of the increased business.
The two most recent changes follow by less than a month an announcement of Coastal Carolina National Bank’s acquisition of a Myrtle Beach mortgage company, which added a new mortgage senior vice president and two of his staff to the bank’s mortgage talent.
“I think you’re seeing the mortgage business is a growing trend among community banks,” said Minter, the immediate past president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of the Carolinas and the key man in South Atlantic’s new mortgage team.
The shuffle is certainly not over as Bank of America likely will want to replace Branstrom and his colleagues, and that could create more openings elsewhere.
Minter’s move to South Atlantic Bank as senior vice president and director of mortgage loans and that of his two associates doubled the size of the bank’s mortgage department.
Laurence Bolchoz, Coastal Carolina president, said the additions will give his bank the personnel and contacts to double its mortgage business to $50 million annually within a year.
Neither Minter nor Branstrom wanted to put figures on their goals in their new positions. But Branstrom said how it takes more loan originators to generate the same business as just a few years ago. The typical originator will produce $1 million a month now for his or her bank.
“That’s not even a fourth of what I need to do,” Branstrom said of his anticipated benchmark at CresCom.
“We’re looking for substantial growth,” was all Minter would say.
Branstrom said the increased need for banks to verify a borrower’s income and the shifting of the bank home loan business from refinancing to sales means that hooking borrowers isn’t nearly as easy as in the glory days of Grand Strand real estate. Now, he said, a smooth loan process will start with all the documentation the bank will need to move forward with a loan.
Neil Rashley, senior vice president and counsel for the S.C. Bankers Association, said that new federal regulations will continue to provide challengers to mortgage bankers.
“Bankers are definitely encouraged about the economic factors that are leading to increased home building and home buying,” he said, “but there are many new regulations that will begin to go into effect in January due to the Dodd-Frank Act that will force these same bankers to more strictly review borrowers’ loan applications. Banks will be lending, but they will be dealing with more stringent regulations at the same time.”
Branstrom was either BofA’s No. 1 or in the top 2 percent of loan originators nationally for 23 years, and he said that his old friend Jerry Rexroad, CresCom’s president and CEO, first approached him about the new job three weeks ago.
He said that a good originator will call Realtors every day, be available to them 24/7 and be known for closing loans on time, every time.
Both CresCom and South Atlantic pointed out that their loan portfolios will include construction loans, which have been hard for builders to get in the last several years.
Both said they will offer their customers a wide range of mortgage products, as did Coastal Carolina National, but CresCom might have a leg up in that it owns an Atlanta-based mortgage company.
In the end, though, all are positioning themselves for growth and new additions to their mortgage business teams.
“It’s a solid way to grow our (bank’s) assets,” said Minter.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.