Unbeknownst to most of the industry, Green Tree Servicing is in the last few weeks of its existence. By the end of August, Green Tree will be no more.
But the company is not closing.
In fact, Green Tree’s parent company, Walter Investment Management Corp. (WAC), is merging Green Tree with another of Walter Investment’s well-known subsidiaries, Ditech Mortgage Corp, to form a new company, ditech, a Walter company.
According to a post on Green Tree’s website, the full legal name of the company will be Ditech Financial LLC, but the company will operate as ditech, a Walter company.
The merger was actually announced quietly in February when Walter Investment released its full-year results for 2014, but the merger takes effect on Aug. 31.
In February, Mark O’Brien, Walter Investment’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the move to merge the two companies was being made to “drive efficiencies” within the company.
“By consolidating our Green Tree and Ditech brands under the name ‘Ditech, a Walter Company’ and enhancing focus on the use of technology, we will drive efficiencies through the reduction of duplicative functions and cost structures and become a stronger, more unified end-to-end mortgage company,” O’Brien said in February.
In a slideshow posted on Walter Investment’s website in conjunction with the company’s earnings in February, Walter Investment said that mortgages originated by ditech will be serviced by the same brand once the merger is complete.
Additionally, Walter said that the establishment of a single entity will improve consumer experience with the servicer and enhance retention efforts through brand consistency.
Walter Investment also said in February that the merger of Green Tree and ditech will help the company’s bottom line.
The company said that additional cost-savings of “at least $35 million have been identified with approximately $25 million expected to be realized in 2015 related to capturing opportunities for enhanced benefits from shared services, the consolidation of Green Tree Servicing and Ditech in the second half 2015 and a significant acceleration of automation efforts which will increase efficiencies company-wide.”
According to Green Tree’s website, the companies say that the transition will allow a greater focus on customers.
“Combining our companies and changing our name to ditech, a Walter company is a recommitment to you, our borrowers, to provide excellent customer service and a promise to support you as partners in sustainable home ownership,” Green Tree said in a post in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section on its website.
In a separate post on Green Tree’s website, the company notifies borrowers and potential borrowers that beginning Aug. 31, all correspondence and digital communications will come from ditech.
“Whether you’re purchasing a new home or looking to refinance your current mortgage, ditech can help you find the right solution for your needs,” the website states. “We look forward to serving you as a ditech customer.”
Both Green Tree and ditech have made their fair share of headlines in the last 18 months.
When ditech relaunched back into the industry in March 2014, it did so with a new business plan, including direct consumer lending, retail lending and correspondent lending.
The new ditech was formed from the assets from the GMACRescap estate, purchased by Walter Investment/Greentree Originations in November 2012.
When ditech announced its plans to come back into the market, it revealed its new business plan, which entailed a three-pronged approach.
Ditech was planning to build business segments in direct consumer lending, retail lending and correspondent lending with its "600-plus institutional partners," according to company spokesman Richard Smith.
And now, ditech will be adding mortgage servicing to its business model.
As for Green Tree, the name was sullied a bit when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission fined Green Tree $63 million in April for “mistreating borrowers” by failing to honor modifications for loans transferred from other servicers, demanding payments before providing loss mitigation options, delaying decisions on short sales, and harassing and threatening overdue borrowers.
As part of the agreement, Green Tree agreed to pay $48 million in restitution to victims, and a $15 million civil money penalty to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund for its illegal actions.
“Green Tree failed consumers who were struggling by prioritizing collecting payments over helping homeowners,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said at the time. “When homeowners in distress had their mortgages transferred to Green Tree, their previous foreclosure relief plans were not maintained. We are holding Green Tree accountable for its unlawful conduct.”
Green Tree said at the time that it agreed to the terms of the settlement, "without admitting or denying any allegations."
Mark O’Brien, Walter Investment’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the settlement was in the best interest of Green Tree, its consumers, its clients and its shareholders.
“As a company, we have been and continue to be committed to properly serving homeowners and helping them remain in their homes,” O’Brien said in April. “We continue to develop and deploy best practices in our servicing operations and believe these standards will serve us well as we partner with our consumers to support them in their goal to achieve sustainable homeownership.”
Interestingly, after ditech was reformed it actually worked under the name Green Tree from Feb. 1, 2013 through Feb. 28, 2014, until it once again started to operate under the name ditech in March 2014.
But now that Green Tree is going away, things have come full circle.