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Mortgage

Interfirst Mortgage returns to originations after three-year hiatus

The company will resume wholesale activity and pursue a new retail channel

Interfirst Mortgage Co. has relaunched operations after a three-year hiatus with a two-pronged strategy featuring a new proprietary loan origination technology platform and a retooled business model incorporating both a wholesale platform and a new consumer-direct retail platform.

Interfirst was founded in 2002 and ceased operations in July 2017 after years of declining volume. At its peak in 2012, it originated $14.1 billion in mortgages and was the 15th-largest U.S. home lender. By 2016, however, its origination level sank to $2 billion.

The Chicago-based private equity-backed mortgage originator recently initiated a soft relaunch and began originating mortgages again through its wholesale and retail channels. However, the economic disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic spurred the company to reenter the market with greater speed.

Interfirst stated that it is building out its wholesale product offerings by recruiting mortgage brokers from around the country, with the goal of operating in all 50 states. The wholesale operations will be using proprietary technology systems that have been under development for the past two years. In a statement, Interfirst said these systems will “further improve its ability to originate the highest quality loans at markedly reduced costs to customers, while maintaining profitability.”

On the retail side, the new channel will include a technology-enhanced call center and a team of experienced loan originators and a non-commissioned sales team. Interfirst is now licensed in 13 states – Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin – and plans to expand nationwide.

“2020 represents an unprecedented opportunity for a mortgage lender with real experience and substantial equity capitalization, no legacy challenges, and the capability to build a proprietary online experience,” said Mark Freedle, executive vice president of production at Interfirst Mortgage.

“The industry disruption has also created an opportunity for private equity-backed Interfirst to acquire consumer-direct call centers and strategically located licensed conforming/government wholesale mortgage operations that have Ginnie and/or Fannie Seller Servicer tickets. The pace of our planned expansion to 50 states will depend on these strategic acquisitions.”

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