Mortgage

Guaranteed Rate closes Stearns wholesale channel

Guaranteed Rate will focus on leveraging its purchase platform used by loan officers

Chicago-based Guaranteed Rate will discontinue its third-party wholesale channel, Stearns Wholesale Lending, just one year after it acquired the multichannel lender.

“Guaranteed Rate will continue to thrive and win market share by having a laser focus on leveraging our industry-leading purchase platform augmented by the best loan officers in the business,” Guaranteed Rate CEO Victor Ciardelli wrote in an email to brokers that HousingWire reviewed.

To ensure success, the company “sometimes makes hard decisions,” but Guaranteed Rate’s leadership is committed to making what is already the best value for its customers, Ciardelli wrote. The email explained that the last day to register a loan is January 12, while the last day for closing a transaction is February 28.

Guaranteed Rate acquired Stearns Holdings in January 2021 for an undisclosed sum from the financial giant Blackstone Group, which also acquired a stake in Guaranteed Rate as part of the transaction. The year prior, Stearns originated $20 billion in loans.

HousingWire reported in 2021 that Stearns’ retail operations would be folded into Guaranteed Rate. Wholesale, JV and partnership businesses remained as stand-alone segments led by Stearns’ CEO David Schneider. Stearns had a sizable partnership business, led by Steve Stein, a more limited retail operation, and a wholesale channel that was the largest in the industry as recently as 2013, but had lost market share to UWM.

Founded in 2000 and known for its robust retail operations, Guaranteed Rate has been growing in stature in recent years. In acquiring Stearns, the company sought to boost retail loan originations, scale its JV platform, and develop new multichannel capabilities. HousingWire reported the acquisition would provide significant revenue for Guaranteed Rate to pursue a potential IPO.

Guaranteed Rate originated $90 billion from January to September 2021, an 81.8% increase compared to 2020, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. The volume puts the company as number eight among the top mortgage lenders in the country.

The company’s star loan officers have set origination records, explaining in part Ciardelli’s promise to invest and focus on the purchase platform its LOs use.

Massachusetts-based Shant Banosian, for example, said he had funded a whopping $2 billion in total origination volume from November 2020 to November 2021. The figure is believed to be a record for a retail loan originator. His colleague Ben Cohen, a loan officer from Illinois, eclipsed the $1 billion threshold in September 2021.

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