Exclusive: Mortgage lender loanDepot will soon offer personal loans

Is this the future's top nonbank lender?

Rather than simply sticking to being one of the largest nonbank mortgage lenders, loanDepot’s strategy to conquer the financial market includes a much higher goal, to be the No. 1 nonbank consumer lender.

In an interview with HousingWire, loanDepot CEO and Founder Anthony Hsieh said the company is getting ready to launch its latest product, personal loans.

This would make loanDepot one of the first mortgage lenders to offer marketplace lending and take a substantial step outside the world of housing.

Within the next month, loanDepot will start to offer unsecured personal loans, ranging from $5,000 to $35,000, that are repayable in three- or five-year terms. Interest rates will be as low as 6.17% for qualified borrowers with an average anticipated FICO score of 700. Borrowers can use the loans for almost anything.

“The entire focus of the organization is for us to position ourselves as the first national nonbank consumer lender,” said Hsieh. “We have to provide more choices so a consumer will leverage loanDepot for their needs.”

“It is always a challenge to grow at the right pace without getting too much over your skis. Our entire strategy is not just to increase market share, which we have, but we really want to create a stickier model and platform so our customers are not just looking at us as a transaction,” he continued. “We are developing a process so it allows the customers to come back to us.”

loanDepot signed a new office lease for June and expects to hire an additional 600 people. While many of the new employees will be dedicated to just consumer loans, a large portion will be dedicated to both.

This is a strategic move for loanDepot given that it has over 10 million consumers in its database and generates 350,00 leads a month, along with connecting by phone or email with 10,00 leads.

In addition, the lender has observed an average of 72% top-line growth for the last five years.

The company has already come a long way from opening its new co-headquarters in Plano, Texas, just two years ago. At that time, the lender said it was eager to fill its unattended desks with new employees.

In November 2014, loanDepot announced it was officially acquiring Massachusetts-based Mortgage Master, creating a combined company with 130 retail lending branches across the country, four web production centers and 3,700 full-time associates.

The two companies combined have more than 1,200 licensed loan officers serving borrowers in all 50 states. Together, the companies created a combined retail loan funding volume in October 2014 of $1.75 billion, with nearly $70 million in top-line revenue.

These latest expansion initiatives from loanDepot follow industry trends that more and more nonbank lenders are growing to capture the first-time buyer market. While big banks like Bank of America (BAC) have chosen not to ease mortgage standards or offer 3% down mortgages, nonbanks like loanDepot are quickly filling in the gap.

All this growth puts the lender in a strong position against its competitors, like Quicken Loans.

However, Hsieh explained that they are working with a heavily fragmented, $12 trillion market, of which mortgage take up 70%. loanDepot is about addressing the majority of the $12 trillion market.

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