Ally Financial getting back into mortgage business

Two years after dropping mortgages completely

[Update: Article updated with more information about Ally’s mortgage plans.]

It’s back.

Two years after being completely driven from the mortgage business due to the losses suffered by its former subsidiaries, GMAC Mortgage and Residential Capital, also known as ResCap, Ally Financial (ALLY) is getting back into mortgages.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Ally will “inch back” into direct home loan originations in 2016.

From Bloomberg:

Ally, whose defunct GMAC Mortgage unit was one of the biggest lenders of subprime mortgages in the run-up to the 2008 housing bust, will inch back into direct home loan originations next year, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Brown said this week at a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. financial conference in New York.

“Don’t think of this as Ally going down the road of the old GMAC,” Brown said, referring to the home lending unit that brought Ally to the brink of collapse.

Ally’s Chief Communications Officer Gina Proia told HousingWire that as part of the company’s plans to “deepen our customer relationships and build upon our distinctive brand,” the company plans to roll out several new programs in 2016.

One of those programs will be doing a “limited amount of direct mortgage originations.”

Proia said that Ally does not plan on building a mortgage servicing operation and does not plan to hold mortgage servicing rights on its balance sheet. Proia also said that Ally does not plan to securitize any mortgage loans. 

Proia said that the move is borne out of a desire to meet the needs of Ally’s customer base and offer some “modest diversification.”

Proia said that Ally is “focused on a straightforward mortgage offering on a limited scale and delivered in a high quality manner consistent with our brand.” 

GMAC’s ResCap was once of the nation’s top subprime lenders, but eventually GMAC and ResCap began dragging down Ally’s business, with ResCap eventually falling into bankruptcy.

In 2012, Ally announced that it was going to shutter its mortgage business after the conclusion of ResCap’s bankruptcy proceedings.

In May 2012, Ally executives said they planned to sell off $1.3 billion in mortgage servicing rights owned by Ally Bank as part of the wind down.

“You can live in your car if you don’t pay your mortgage,” then-Ally CEO Michael Carpenter said in 2012. “I don’t mean to be cute, but the fact is people make their car payment before they pay their mortgage.”

In 2013, Ally agreed to contribute $1.95 billion in cash to the ResCap estate, as well as the first $150 million of the insurance recoveries expected in connection with additional mortgage-related losses.

As of June 30, 2013, Ally ceased new mortgage loan originations, the company said at the time. The company also sold off the last of its mortgage servicing rights in the second quarter of 2013.

“Ally closed the chapter on its legacy mortgage issues, sold substantially all of its international operations, reduced its higher cost unsecured debt and achieved financial holding company status,” Carpenter said in Fed. 2014. “Today, Ally has a pristine balance sheet and is focused on its strengths with its leading domestic automotive services and direct banking franchises.”

But now, Ally is dipping its toe back into mortgages.

Again from Bloomberg:

Ally isn’t expected to start offering risky products the way GMAC did, according to Jeff Davis at Mercer Capital. “But they’ve got to do something, because they won’t make a decent return if the business is limited to making car loans,” he said.

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