One of nation’s top mortgage lenders, PrimeLending, sets up Wichita office
Wichita Business Journal by John Stearns, Reporter
Add another new name to the evolving roster of Wichita mortgage lenders: PrimeLending.
While new, PrimeLending has familiar faces running its office in former Countrywide andBank of America representatives Dan Reiners and Jodie Leeser. The two have worked together on and off for 21 years.
“We’re the same people doing the same thing working for a different company ... and wearing a different uniform,” Reiners says. With Leeser, he co-manages the PrimeLending branch that opens Monday in the Hinkle Law building near 21st Street and Bradley Fair Parkway.
PrimeLending is at least the third new mortgage lender in Wichita since late 2011 that’s opened with established brokers in the industry’s post-housing bubble shakeout. In November, Houston-based Envoy Mortgage opened with former Allied Home Mortgage staff. In January, Inland Home Mortgage Co., a subsidiary of Oak Brook, Ill.-based Inland Bank and Trust, opened with former MetLife staff.
PrimeLending has operated in Wichita since the start of the year in temporary space but delayed its announcement until its permanent office was ready.
Dallas-based PrimeLending was recently named the No. 1 closely held mortgage company in America by Mortgage Executive Magazine, which ranked companies by 2011 mortgage volume. PrimeLending did $8.8 billion in closed loan volume last year in 45,233 loans, the magazine says.
PrimeLending will close $9 billion in total volume this year, says Al Velasco, the company’s senior vice president-Midwest. Approximately 64 percent of that will be purchase transactions, which he calls “much higher than industry standards.” Purchase business, rather than the cyclical refinancing business, is the key to long-term success, he says.
The PrimeLending office has seven staff members with 142 years of combined experience, Reiners says.
All are former Bank of America employees.
Inland Home Mortgage’s Aaron Vierthaler, among the trio who opened Inland’s Wichita office earlier this year, says Reiners and Leeser have extensive experience in the local mortgage business.
“They’re going to be another formidable player here in the Wichita market,” he says.
Reiners expects his team to be productive.
“We’re just looking to carve our share of the existing market out and try to grow that,” he says.
PrimeLending, which has offices from coast to coast, chose Wichita based on the past successes of the managers in this market, Velasco says.
“As we have expanded in the Midwest, we have seen that Midwest markets often rebound faster than markets that saw accelerated appreciation,” Velasco says.
He says PrimeLending’s business model is based on outperforming larger lenders in service and speed of loan closure.
The company has two other Kansas offices, in Lawrence and Leawood.
PrimeLending hopes to open a west Wichita office as well, Reiners says. Timing depends on hiring the right people.
Reiners says the Wichita resale market has picked up in the past couple of months.
Wichita homes have held their value compared with markets like Omaha, Oklahoma City and Kansas City and is as vibrant a real estate market as there is in the Midwest, he says.
“There are still people coming to Wichita with very strong and supportive companies that are hungry to buy a house,” Reiners says.
Paul Jackson, president of Vantage Point Properties Inc., which manages the building PrimeLending will operate in, also sees momentum in the local real estate market.
“We’re encouraged by the things we’re seeing right now, and that’s just a good example of what we’re seeing in the market,” Jackson says of PrimeLending’s entrance.
While the recession took its toll on mortgage brokers, the market has notable competitors, Reiners says. With price parity in interest rates and fees in the mortgage industry, offices have to stand out with service, he says.
“It’s the ability to get the loan closed and funded on time that is essential to your success,” Reiners says.
Leeser, Reiners’ co-manager, says the competition among lenders in Wichita is good and requires them to be nimble.
“You want to take care of the Realtors, and you want to take care of the customers — and you want to do it right,” she says.
PrimeLending’s lease brings the Hinkle Law building to 100 percent occupancy.
Lewis Kelley of Landmark Commercial Real Estate represented PrimeLending in the deal, and Marty Moody with Vantage Point Properties represented Vantage Point. Icon Structures Inc. was the contractor that made improvements to the space that were designed by architect Spangenberg Phillips Tice.