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Churchill Mortgage builds originations in struggling Atlanta housing market

The overall Atlanta housing market continues to suffer from weakening home prices and rampant foreclosures, but for the expanding Churchill Mortgage, the area is a boon.

The Atlanta-based residential mortgage lender just appointed Jennifer Coe as its latest business development executive to cultivate lending business in Georgia and open a new metro-Atlanta branch.

Coe will leverage personal, local contacts within the mortgage and real estate industries. She’ll be responsible for recruiting local mortgage professionals to support the new branch, including processors and loan officers.

“The metro-Atlanta area continues to be a strong market for Churchill; therefore, recruiting and dedicating more resources to support the local communities made sense,” said Churchill President Mike Hardwick.

Other lenders are likely living through a different experience in the city. While similar markets began to show signs of stabilizing, if not rising, toward a full recovery, Atlanta is seeing home prices fall and foreclosures rise. For the first time since 2006, Georgia holds the highest foreclosure rate in the country.

Atlanta is one of six cities on the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index where annual home price movements are still negative.

The index shows that in June, all 20 MSAs posted positive monthly gains. In terms of annual rates of change, Phoenix had the highest, up 13.9%, and Atlanta the lowest, down 12.1%. Atlanta, Detroit and Las Vegas are posting average home prices below their January 2000 levels.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is have a hard time selling properties in Atlanta as part of its REO pilot program. The agency announced the program’s first winning bidder on Monday.

All properties in the REO program were sold near or above market value. However, the 541 properties in Atlanta were not awarded. Reports in July revealed the success of the pilot program, but also the agency’s difficulty in selling the properties in Atlanta, first reported by HousingWire in July, which will be evaluated for disposition through Fannie Mae’s retail sales operation or through future structured transactions.

When was asked a question from an Atlanta real estate broker at HousingWire’s REO Expo in June, Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic (CLGX) paused and said, “We need to talk after the presentation. Atlanta is a curious case. We need to figure out what’s going on.”

Coe will partner with local community banks and develop a realtor outreach program at Churchill, which provides mortgages in 26 states. Before joining Churchill, Coe was a licensed real estate agent for Acworth, Ga.-based Terri & Company.

“With her extensive background in the real estate and housing industry and her local insight, we’re excited about the success Jennifer will bring to this area,” Hardwick said.

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