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Mar 7, 2022
National Mortgage News is proud to present the fourth annual Best Mortgage Companies to Work For list. The awards program is dedicated to recognizing lenders that are supportive employers and providing them with employee feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. The program is a partnership between National Mortgage News and the Best Companies Group, which conducts extensive employee surveys and reviews employer reports on benefits and policies. The employee survey covers eight topics: Leadership and Planning; Corporate Culture and Communications; Role Satisfaction; Work Environment; Relationship with Supervisor; Training, Development and Resources; Pay and Benefits; and Overall Engagement. Once the survey data is analyzed, the companies get a score that decides their ranking. The overall score is calculated using the employee survey (worth 75%) and the employer questionnaire (worth 25%). To qualify for consideration, organizations with 25 or more employees need a minimum response rate of 40% while organizations with 25 or fewer employees need 80%. Participation is open to a standalone mortgage lender, mortgage broker, mortgage servicer, or mortgage unit of a diversified financial services firm with at least 15 permanent employees working in the United States. While companies must opt-in to the rankings, not every entity that participates in the survey makes the list. Below, the companies share with us details about their office (or work-from-home) culture, their special events, benefits and broader strategies for fostering communication and a productive working environment. Throughout the week we'll be posting the rankings categorized according to company size and features that explore more about these top companies from across the country. The UNMB Home Loans team gathers for a summer dinner. No. 50: UNMB Home Loans Headquarters: Levittown, New York UNMB Home Loans is a referral, relationship-based company, CEO and president Don Giorgio said, making client interactions feel akin to greeting an old family member. The firm carefully balances technology’s efficiency with retaining a close company culture, sending more videos over email to staff and choosing Zooms over telephone calls. Now in 21 states, the company added 35 employees in the past year, and takes pride in developing staff, he said. “As a company, how do you affect them in a positive and compelling way?” Giorgio said. “I don’t think companies ask staff those questions. I think that’s a huge differentiation from all the other companies.” Members of the USA Mortgage team participating in the Habitat for Humanity 'Home for the Holidays' build. No. 49: USA Mortgage USA Mortgage is a lender known for its employee stock ownership plan , with particularly strong roots in its home market of St. Louis but also on the web. The company got started in 2001 after Chairman and CEO Doug Schukar bought some assets from an Internet lender he’d previously worked for called LoanSurfer.com. Today, the company's site features a chatbot character and mascot called Flat Dougie that helps answer user questions. Mortgage products the company funds include conventional, government, jumbo, and renovation loans. In its home state of Missouri, it also offers a first-time homebuyer grant that can be used to fund up to 4.5% of the loan amount. TRENDING Pittsburgh-based Victorian Finance was created in 2003 by E.H "Sonny" Bringol, a former chemical engineer. The company currently has 199 employees. "I been calling ourselves a 19 year new startup, [as] we've completely revamped the company in the last year and a half and which I've gone from not as many support systems to major support systems in marketing, HR, licensing, training, all of those things that make sure that we're taking care of an employee," Bringol said. "We've invested in the infrastructure to do that for the family at hand, because again, the leadership team decided our client is the team; the team will take care of the borrower." This process actually started in the last year and a half "because nothing happens overnight," he continued. "Everything you want to do takes a long time to implement, and when you need it desperately, you can't turn it on desperately." Picture day at Revolution Mortgage's Grandview Heights, Ohio branch. No 47: Revolution Mortgage Founded in 2018, Revolution Mortgage offers conforming, jumbo and government-sponsored loans and is licensed in 40 states. The company’s focus on extending its corporate branding through to its branches helps its lenders stand out in their local markets founder and CEO Tony Grothouse said. “What we can align them with is that culture and that character and help them identify how to be relevant,” he added. Revolution’s marketing and social media efforts help drive overall strategy. “We help them identify what makes them special or maybe unique, and how to position that and develop a brand around who they are, what they do.” Lennar Mortgage's President, Laura Escobar (second from left) and National Coordinator, Chanda Noe (right) with the company's MBA Opens Doors Foundation 2021 Spirit Award. John East Lennar Mortgage is a subsidiary of homebuilder Lennar Corp., and has been in business over 40 years. The company is based in Miami and has 1,267 employees. "Transparency is important, especially given the challenging past 20 months where we've converted to working from home," the company said in a statement. "Work-life harmony is a top priority to ensure our teams are continuing to grow their careers and skill sets, which has a direct relationship to delivering a great customer experience." Liberty Reverse Mortgage's holiday party zoom event. No. 45: Liberty Reverse Mortgage (formerly Liberty Home Equity Solutions) Headquarters: Rancho Cordova, California Southern California-based lender and servicer Liberty Reverse Mortgage offers both HECMs and its proprietary Equity IQ jumbo reverse product. The company is the fifth-largest reverse mortgage lender in volume, according to Reverse Market Insight, and had a record-breaking 2021, with its employees reaping rewards from bonuses to promotions. As a subsidiary of Ocwen, Liberty Reverse also has the advantage of being able to tap into corporation-shared models for IT, benefits and legal support. The company intends to promote telework and hybrid-work in 2022 and plants a tree for every loan it has under contract. No. 44: Inlanta Mortgage Inc. Headquarters: Pewaukee, Wisc. Founded in 1960, Guild has 250 retail branches and correspondent relationships with several other entities that it buys loans from, including credit unions, community banks and other institutions. It also services loans in 45 states and Washington, D.C. The company went public in 2020 and its shares trade under the ticker symbol GHLD. Guild offers conventional and government loans, and has helped pioneer loan products that help first-time homebuyers and remove affordability constraints, such as government-sponsored enterprise-backed financing for hybrid manufactured homes , which have features comparable to those of traditional houses. David Battany, an executive vice president at the company, is the co-chair of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s 2022 Affordable Homeownership Advisory Council. The American Mortgage Network team gathers for a holiday celebration. No. 42: American Mortgage Network Headquarters: Chula Vista, Calif. American Mortgage Network is an employee-owned mortgage banker based in Chula Vista, Calif. It entered the business in 2019 and now has 119 employees. In August 2020, AmNet added to its employee base by entering into a partnership with Active Duty Passive Income, an organization dedicated to helping those who have served in the military to become financially independent and build sustainable income. Company executives believe the employee stock option plan is a big reason why it appears on the Best Mortgage Companies to Work For list. "Well, that means that everybody owns this company together as a team and that actually means that we're all in this together so that you've got a lot more synergy and camaraderie across the board," said David Wallace, executive vice president. "I'm talking from staff accountants to closers to loan officers to everybody, we're all in this together, it's not an us versus them mentality." No. 41: Spring EQ Spring EQ lends in 40 states and had three more coming online soon at deadline. The company, which was founded in 2016, is known for specializing in home equity products including “piggyback” loans that allow some borrowers to use a combination of first and second-lien mortgages to finance a home purchase. It works with third-party originators, and also offers cash-out refinances and adjustable home equity lines of credit. Employees who work for the lender get some flexibility to work from home, and it has made health-related improvements to its office. The Amerifirst Home Mortgage Winter Park Florida team donated 2,252 pounds of food to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. No. 40: Amerifirst Home Mortgage Headquarters: Kalamazoo, Michigan Starting with four employees in 1983 to over 900 today, lender and servicer Amerifirst Home Mortgage offers conventional, government and home improvement loans. Last year, it ramped up diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, with the addition of a new DEI manager, and conducted a listening tour with leaders in Kalamazoo and Detroit to learn how to better serve their communities. Co-founder and CEO Mark Jones also serves as vice chair of both the Mortgage Bankers Association and its DEI advisory committee. “We're able to integrate what we're doing at Amerifirst with what MBA is doing, and that's pretty exciting to be able to do that,” Jones said. As part of its initiatives to increase affordable homeownership, the company hopes to eventually open centers in these cities to help educate local residents about financial literacy. These efforts mirror Amerifirst’s outreach to Hispanic market in Florida, where it recently launched Ameriuno to help Spanish-speaking clients navigate the mortgage process, including the paperwork. “Anybody that interacts with the public that works in that division speaks Spanish as their first language,” Jones said. The company plans to open a physical Ameriuno’s location in Kissimmee, Florida later this year, which will also offer seminars and programs, and has plans for additional sites in the state. No. 39: NFM Lending Founded in 1998 by its current CEO, David Silverman, NFM most recently made headlines for launching an “influencer unit” designed to reach the next generation of home-buyers through its short, entertaining TikToks. The company, which operates in 48 states, has been nimble in its response to new trends as well as the changing times, moving to remote work over the past two years but encouraging a sense of community with virtual town halls and NFM Spirit Days, in which employees wear NFM gear and send in photos to win prizes. The company fosters continuing education of their employees through NFM University, which offers career development in both general and role-specific topics. Its underwriter program gives employees the chance to receive free training to move into that role. Homespire Mortgage's virtual employee event, "Purple Nation Blindfold Challenge." No. 38: Homespire Mortgage Founded in 2006, Homespire Mortgage offers a wide array of mortgage loans and services, including government-backed, conventional and jumbo loans at various rate terms, as well as renovation and 100%-financing products. To ease the workload of its loan officers and offer support, Homespire’s marketing team operates its customer-relationship management system on their behalf, including social media efforts. “We're curating our own original content that we're posting on their behalf,” said Todd Sheinin, the lender’s chief operating officer, who said the company keeps an eye on upcoming holidays and or appreciation months to tie social media into, and also expresses support for cultural awareness efforts. “They’re working three, four weeks ahead.” A few members from the First Heritage Mortgage team representing at an event in Fall 2021. No. 37: First Heritage Mortgage Headquarters: Fairfax, Virginia Founded in 1996 in the Washington D.C. metro area, this mid-size lender offer purchase, refinance and construction and renovation loans in addition to home equity lines of credit and other specialty products like bridge loans. While many employees have shifted to full-time telecommuting permanently or hybrid working plans over the past two years, the company promotes team building with a number of virtual events and provides a free lunch on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to thank employees who are coming into the office. Free lunch is provided Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to thank employees who are coming into the office. No. 36: Republic State Mortgage Headquarters: Houston, Texas SWBC Mortgage, founded in 1988, is part of a diversified financial services company that also sells insurance and investment services for businesses and individuals. The mortgage lending arm of SWBC funds government, conventional, renovation, and jumbo loans. It also participates in the Veterans Housing Assistance Program, which gives certain eligible veterans living in or moving to Texas with loans with low rates. CEO Susan Stewart was a former chairwoman of the Mortgage Bankers Association. Stewart sees running an independent mortgage bank as a collaborative process. “Typically they’re run really tightly with a tight group of executives and senior managers that work together as a group to grow a company. So it’s really important that everybody participates and has a seat at the table,” she said in a 2020 interview . No. 34: Certainty Home Loans Headquarters: Plano, Texas Certainty Home Loans started in 2000 as WR Starkey Mortgage. In October 2017, it rebranded as Certainty and 11 months later, Stearns Lending took a 50.2% interest in the company. It became a part of the Guaranteed Rate family when that company acquired Stearns in January 2021. The company is based in Plano, Texas and has 269 employees. "We have always focused on making homeownership a reality by putting people first, investing in the right technology, and partnering with the best in the business," the company said. "Our core belief is that our Certainty family is our No. 1 asset. We never want to lose sight of the importance of our team members or our core values: integrity, quality, teamwork, and customer service." Because of the financial tie to Guaranteed Rate, Certainty "has the unique ability to provide a small company feel while having the capital strength of a large organization. Or as we like to put it, we get to have our cake and eat it, too." EMM Leadership dining with one of its branches. No. 33: EMM Loans Number of employees: 269 EMM is a lender, broker and servicer. It offers a particularly broad range of loan products, including the RefiNow option available for low-income borrowers renovation-and-purchase mortgages available under the Federal Housing Administration’s 203(k) program. Non-qualified mortgages , adjustable-rate loans and jumbo products also are available from EMM. The company, which was founded in 2004, has a digital lending platform with an automated asset verification and document collection process and allows work to be done from home or in a new shared workspace. EMM also offers flextime for work-life balance, and invites immediate family members to corporate events. New employee benefits in 2022 include a series of lunch and learn seminars on topics such as tobacco cessation, diabetes management and mental health awareness. Team members from the Middletown, Rhode Island-based lender Embrace Home Loans gather for a group activity. No. 32: Embrace Home Loans Headquarters: Middletown, Rhode Island Website: www.embracehomeloans.com Embrace Home Loans was founded in 1983 by CEO Dennis Hardiman and is licensed to originate loans in 49 states and Washington, D.C. The firm added 139 employees in 2021, a year after it generated an estimated $6.4 billion in production in 2020. Embrace Home Loans highlights its own staff in a recurring employee spotlight, and onboards employees with an “Orange Carpet” experience at its Rhode Island headquarters. No. 31: Geneva Financial This large lender offers con began operations in 2007 amid the housing crisis and has adapted quickly in another turbulent time. Many of its corporate employees now operate outside of the company’s Chandler, Arizona headquarters and it has decided to shrink its office footprint since most are telecommuting. Managers participate in retreats in which they can discuss ideas and collaborate, while they also treat an employee to the occasional surprise “lunch bomb” of a free meal or gift card. With an asset size of $55 million at the time of the survey, Geneva offers conventional loans, FHA, VA and jumbo loans in addition to reverse loan products, down payment assistance programs. No. 30: Mortgage Network Mortgage Network was established in 1988 and funded $4.2 billion in loans in 2021, providing financing for 11,477 borrowers. The firm built its own loan origination system under the guidance of co-founder and CEO Robert McInnes and the technology has allowed the company to wield the same power as mortgage firms three to four times its size, executive vice president Brian Koss said. Mortgage Network has retained many employees for decades, with members in its 10-year, 20-year, 30-year clubs. Mortgage Network always takes input from new hires regarding its technology and is comfortable in being transparent, peeling back the veneer of its business, Koss said. The Radius Financial Group employees participate in a Tug o' War team building activity. No. 29: Radius Financial Group Headquarters: Norwell, Massachusetts In addition to conventional, jumbo and government products, Intercap Lending’s portfolio of offerings also includes renovation loans and reverse mortgages. The lender and servicer, which has been in operation since 1978, has an in-house underwriting team to help expedite closing. And for its employees, Intercap can help make arrangements for dry cleaning, meal catering and childcare, through a concierge service, and flies all staff to its headquarters for its holiday party. North Dakota Housing Finance Agency's Ugly Christmas Sweater Day coincides annually with the company's big holiday potluck. No. 25: North Dakota Housing Finance Agency Headquarters: Bismarck, North Dakota The NDHFA, which was recognized on the list as a servicer, supports first-time homeownership in the state and has been in operation for 40 years. It also provides low-cost mortgages, down payment and closing cost assistance to other households including single parents, individuals, and families who lack the resources needed to qualify for conventional financing. All of the agency’s loans are serviced in-house, and if homeowners experience hardship, the staff will work with them one-on-one. “Focusing on each customer's personal needs creates housing stability and results in greater long-term success for our borrowers which in turn helps them build wealth and accumulate assets,” the NDHFA said in an emailed statement. No. 24: Astar Home Capital Headquarters: Monroe, New York Highlands Residential Mortgage was founded by loan originators 12 years ago and today has offices in 17 states and does business in almost 40 states across the country, president Brian Bennett said. The company has its own app, which debuted five years ago and allows loan originators to pre-approve clients in minutes. The app has allowed the company to compete with some of the industry’s biggest players, and the company’s technology bona fides are a big reason behind its growth, Bennett said. “It’s been very attractive to a lot of originators around the country that have heard about our culture and our approach to business,” he said. Assurance Financial team members come together to celebrate at its annual Christmas party. Nicholas Martino Assurance Financial celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and offers a wide variety of loans, including agency and jumbo products, as well as non-QM and construction loans, to help its lenders bring in business. “People appreciate that we do everything that we can to make sure that they have all of the products and fair pricing that they can compete in this space. That's what it's about, us giving them an opportunity to compete,” said Kenny Hodges, Assurance Financial’s president and CEO. In addition to its suite of products, the company has also made significant investments in its technology stack, including the adoption of Salesforce for customer relationship management, to accommodate further growth. “It's one of our most expensive ventures yet, but we feel like we need that technology to take it to the next level,” Hodges said. No. 20: A & N Mortgage Services Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois Taylor Morrison Home Funding is the Maitland, Fla.-based mortgage unit of homebuilder Taylor Morrison. It has 398 employees. "It is our ability to care about the little things as much as we care about the big things and being as inclusive as we are," said Tawn Kelley, the company's president. Diversity, equity and inclusion has been part of the company's mantra from the start. "We embrace diversity in so many ways and we have so many employees that started entry level positions that were mentored and grew and that are leaders today," Kelley said. "And it gives opportunity for everyone to realize that it's up to them and us and together we will create the best amazing career that they could hope for." The favorite word at Taylor Morrison Home Loans is "shift," Kelley continued. "It has allowed us to be able to evolve to where we are today because we're willing to embrace change and look at it as opportunity, not as challenge and we look at things glass half full versus empty." No. 18: InstaMortgage InstaMortgage founder and CEO Shashank Shekhar doesn’t define a great workplace culture by free lunches and other amenities, but rather how coworkers work on a daily basis. The company gives people more than what they think they can handle when they join and allows staff to make mistakes, not penalizing them so they can learn, Shekhar said. The company, which offers conventional, FHA, USDA, VA, jumbo loans, also doesn’t use technology to replace staff but rather give them more bandwidth to operate. “We would rather grow and have our people do more high-impact work and have more clerical work done by technology than let them go completely and struggle to find a job in this market,” Shekhar said. No. 17: VanDyk Mortgage CEO Thomas VanDyk founded the company in 1987. It is a lender active in more than 43 states with 90 branch office locations. The company offers some flexibility for work from home arrangements and has redesigned its on-site offices to minimize health risks. Loan products offered include 30- and 15-year conventional loans and adjustable-rate mortgages. Federal Housing Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Department of Veterans Affairs loans also are listed on its product menu. In addition, low down-payment loans, and jumbo mortgages up to $2 million are available from the company, which has Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae approvals. “We believe in a servant leadership approach and feel everyone that touches the transaction is vital to the process,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. They added that the company “will provide the tools, processes, and systems to help everyone attain success in their position.” Axia Home Loans sales, operations and leadership teams from California, Texas, Idaho and other locales come together in Washington to take a moment to celebrate. No. 16: Axia Home Loans Headquarters: Bellevue, Washington A representative at Directions Home Loans, in the Best Companies survey, said something not often heard in a positive context: “We believe in being a little overstaffed in Operations, ensuring that each of our employees in every function have the support they need to be successful,” they wrote, emphasizing that the company creates operational efficiencies through systems automation. The lender has an employee recognition program in which those honored can redeem for items or can use their rewards to donate to charitable organizations. The company’s assets totalled $27 million at the time of the survey. No. 14: Direct Mortgage Loans Headquarters: Hunt Valley, Maryland Founded by Mike Naylor and Ashley Mills in 2007, this direct lender operates in 29 states and looks to emphasize inclusivity by offering ongoing diversity training and participation in the DML Pride committee. The company states that as a regular practice it will “hold individual coaching sessions at least monthly with all employees to ensure that their needs are being met and they have all of the tools that they need to succeed.” The lender says that each loan officer has a minimum of 40 hours of training in federal law, ethics, and non-traditional lending. A group of Mortgage Center employees use their employer paid volunteer time off to support organization Life Remodeled in Detroit, Michigan. No. 13: Mortgage Center This midsized lender that’s been in operation since 1990 emphasizes charitable giving as part of its mission, matching donations raised by employees to purchase gifts for those in need in the holiday season. Most are working remotely these days but the company has created a Return to Workplace guide for anyone who wishes to come into the office. As of the survey’s filing, the company had an asset size of $55 million. During the May 2021 #FairwayJOY week, an annual initiative to encourage employees to give back to our communities, the Fairway Independent Mortgage team in Arizona volunteered at St. Mary's Food Bank. No. 12: Fairway Independent Mortgage Headquarters: Madison, Wisconsin The 26-year-old Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation has dual headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin and Carrollton, Texas; and is known for its flexible business model, employee stock ownership plan and having the largest headcount of any company on the list. “Fairway is very accommodating to exception processes and things of that nature in order to allow the branches to be entrepreneurial,” said Julie Fry, chief human resources officer, in an interview. The lender funds conventional and government mortgages, including renovation and low down-payment products. Fairway also will fund jumbo mortgages up to $5 million and loans with down payment assistance provided through partnerships with 85 state and local government programs, or nonprofit entities, and has a total of 285 approved nationally. Changes at the company in the past year include a 20% increase in headcount and a transition away from an entirely work-from-home operation with personal exercise equipment to an 80% remote one with access to on-site and online health resources. Fairway also has begun experimenting with resource groups for diverse communities within the company, and worked to double the impact of its charitable endeavors, such as one that funds the provision of service dogs to veterans who need them. It runs a nonprofit it established to assist employees with hardships. No. 11: McLean Mortgage Corporation Headquarters: Fairfax, Virginia Fairfax, Virginia-based McLean Mortgage opened for business in 2008. Besides purchase and refinance products, it also offers loans for renovation and new construction. The company has 343 employees. "McLean Mortgage has a client-first focus, we keep sight of the fact that we are serving those who live in our local communities," the company said. "Knowing everyone is in a different financial situation, we help neighbors, friends, family, and community partners discover their financing options and realize their dreams." Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group sales managers and the executive leadership team participate in continuous learning and development. No. 10: Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group Headquarters: Virginia Beach, Virginia As a substantially sized lender in the ranking, Neighborhood Loans representatives said the company has managed to avoid the typical trappings of a firm of its size. “The one thing we keep hearing from new hires is what a breath of fresh air it is to have such a non-corporate-like feeling of a company and know that you are cared for here. Aside from that, we implore a very work hard play hard attitude. There is absolutely no micro management.” The Austin branch of Homeowners Financial Group celebrating their office grand opening. No. 8: Homeowners Financial Group USA Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona Homeowners Financial, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, opened its doors in 2004 and it has 510 employees. It is a purchase-centric operation, President and CEO Bill Rogers explained. Discussions about the current state of the industry are "just a reminder of who we are as a company, the values in which this company is built upon, and you rally people around that," Rogers said. "It's just going to take collective effort from every person in the company doing their job at a high level, and that's the reality of it, and that's how we navigate through challenging times." But Rogers likes to remind his team that it is also "an opportunity to create separation from other companies, because I have that much confidence in each and every employee in this company that this is an opportunity for us. Yes, it's getting more difficult but let's not kid ourselves, $2.6 trillion as a projection [for originations] is still a top six year for the industry in general." The Dayton, Ohio branch celebrating Thrive Mortgage's 20th Anniversary last June. No. 7: Thrive Mortgage Thrive was founded as mortgage brokerage in 2001 and is now a lender. It originally operated under the name Georgetown Mortgage, but its owners, Roy and Barbara Jones, decided to change its name in 2018. Michael Jones, the company’s chief financial officer, is the chairman of the Community Mortgage Lenders of America. The majority of Thrive’s staff works from home and it has worked to maintain a sense of community amid the pandemic with events like a “virtual summit” held for the whole company, which is licensed in 40 states. Thrive organizes or participates in charitable efforts aimed at helping veterans and relieving hardships within its market areas and employee base. Since 2020, the company has had a director of community advancement who oversees both recruiting and outreach to markets within its footprint, including underserved areas. It offers conforming, government, reverse and jumbo loans in addition to construction financing and both fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages. Creating memories one photobooth at a time at Mattamy Home Funding. No. 6: Mattamy Home Funding Headquarters: Maitland, Florida Mattamy, a builder’s mortgage company, was founded in 2008 and feels like a “little big company,” president Estelle Norvell said. The firm balances a mom-and-pop attitude in personalized service with less automation, although it retains the technology capabilities to keep pace in the industry. Buying a newly-constructed home with Mattamy could take up to a year, but the firm is in lockstep with both the builder and buyer in updating loans. “You always want to have volume, but not to have it at the sacrifice of the journey,” Norvell said. “It’s being on the journey with our borrowers that separates us, and also makes our employees appreciate what they do.” No. 5: Trinity Oaks Mortgage Headquarters: Red Oak, Texas Trinity Oaks Mortgage was founded six years ago as a builder’s mortgage company and today can walk customers from a point-of-sale, to funding and closing or e-closing, to handing them the keys on their new front lawn, president Michael Kuentz said. The company hit $450 million in volume at the end of last year and is now on a growth plan to hit $2 billion in volume, bolstered by three recent branch acquisitions and imminent expansions into six more southern states. Internally, the company is investing more into functions it outsourced in the past. “We want to be a company that invests in originators,” he said. “So that’s what we’ve really turned our attention to and that’s why we see such an aggressive growth opportunity.” No. 4: Acopia Acopia, based in Goodlettsville, Tenn. started operations in 2007. "Our team members work hard, are dedicated to each other's success, and look for ways to celebrate each other," the company said. Besides conforming and government products, Acopia offers jumbo, stand-alone home equity lines of credit and manufactured housing loans. It also has the Heroes Program, offering a 25 basis point lender credit to veterans, active duty military personnel, law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and educators. "Primarily, we are mortgage banking professionals, committed to making our communities a better place to live and work," the company said. "That starts inside our own doors, with each other, every day." Method Mortgage celebrates the Wing Ding awards. No. 3: Method Mortgage Based outside of Birmingham, Alabama, Method Mortgage has been in business since 2007 and is licensed in four Southeastern states. With a staff of 20, the lender and broker has made it a priority to get involved with and support its local community. “One of the things that the staff is most proud of is something we've kind of dubbed the community referral program,” said partner Roger Steur. For every referral it receives from real estate agents, builders and other sources, the company puts a $25 contribution in a kitty for charity. “Staff members get to suggest and pick what group that benefits, and that's been something that they are really proud that we get to do.” Since the program started last year, Method Mortgage has donated approximately $36,000 to various local causes and groups, Steur said. Method’s teams are also active participants in events, such as local cookoffs, where they have won awards for its gumbo, chili and wings. Keri Blair Headquarters: Rumford, Rhode Island This company, an institutional private-money lender founded in 2014, specializes in non-owner-occupied investor loans and reported a 60% year-over-year gain in the fourth quarter of 2021. It originated a total of over $1 billion in 2020, and $1.74 billion last year. The majority or 92% of its production consists of single-family loans. The company launched a multifamily channel last year, and has hired 181 associates over the past year. Civic gives its employees the flexibility to work from home, in the office or a mix of both. It also offers a no-point option for mortgage brokers and real estate agents, and plans to expand the range of products it offers this year to include financing for short-term vacation rentals and new construction. The company gives each of its employees a “Civic challenge coin” that espouses the company’s core values: Act with honor, be a great partner, communicate clearly, create smiles and simplify. “Our thought is to give everything we have and support our people so they can be the best version of themselves,” said President William “Bill” Tessar in an interview.
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