The 2023 mortgage industry merger-and acquisition wave has hit New Jersey. Two lenders based in the state are negotiating a deal: AnnieMac is in talks to acquire Family First Funding, according to former employees and business partners.
More merger and acquisition deals are expected to happen as mortgage rates surge to the 7% level and origination volumes decline even further. Mortgage applications recently hit the lowest level in 28 years.
At Family First, the monthly production has declined significantly. Volume fell 40% between August 2022 and December 2022, per the mortgage tech platform Modex.
Founded in 2011 by Gabriel Gillen, Neusa Gillen, and Scott Weikel, the lender originated $1.45 billion over the last 12 months, and purchase loans represented 71% of the total.
American Neighborhood Mortgage Acceptance Company LLC, doing business as AnnieMac, has captured twice the origination volume of the target company. It originated $3 billion in the last 12 months, per Modex estimates. AnnieMac has 316 active loan officers and 75 branches, the data shows.
AnnieMac has also felt the effects of the shrinking and competitive mortgage market. Last year, amid a price war, the lender decided to exit the wholesale channel. Its website said, “As a result of worsening market conditions, it has made the difficult decision to cease wholesale operations effective October 31, 2022.”
HousingWire sent requests for comments to representatives of both companies, but they haven’t replied.
Two sources told HousingWire that Family First recently lost one of its top sales teams. Christopher Keelin, no. 19 on the Scotsman Guide’s 2022 Top Dollar Volume ranking with a $530.2 million production, moved to CrossCountry. Keelin and CrossCountry did not reply to requests for comments.
The sources said that, amid the M&A talks, Family First imposed layoffs across the company.
According to a former employee, Family First is selling to another mortgage company and did this “abruptly,” cutting employees after they lost a “huge group” who did not wish to be part of the new company.
Family First is also the target of a class-action-seeking lawsuit filed by former employees in early March. The former processors claim the company did not pay owed overtime. According to the complaint, potentially more than 40 current and former employees are in a similar situation.