Fast 50

Out-of-State Banks Muscle in on Local Markets

Massachusetts, Maine Lenders Lead List of Fastest-Growing Firms

A range of real estate deals helped lenders grow quickly this year, despite headwinds from a slowing economy.

Banks in New Hampshire and New England are facing fresh headwinds as an uncertain economy, rising interest rates and inflation take a toll on both the residential and commercial sides of the lending ledger. 

Nonetheless, the first half of 2022 was a strong one for banks cutting residential and commercial lending deals across the state, with a mix of small and mid-sized banks and a few giants as well posting strong growth numbers. 

A mix of out-of-state lenders, including from Maine and Massachusetts, along with some Granite State banks, posted some of the strongest growth numbers during the first six months of 2022, according to data from The Warren Group, publisher of The Registry Review, analyzed as part of this newspaper’s annual Fast 50 analysis of the fastest-growing lenders statewide. 

Curtis Simard, CEO of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, credited a strong lending team with decades of experience was behind the bank’s surge in commercial loan deals during the first half of 2022. 

The Maine-based bank came in at No. 4, with its commercial loan volume in New Hampshire posting a more than nine-fold increase over the first half of 2021, jumping to more than $95 million, up from just over $10 million previously. 

“I have been lending in the commercial space, and in particular Northern New England and larger New Hampshire for 30 years,” Simard said. “We have thick rolodexes.”  

Strength in ‘Diversity’ of Loan Deals 

Bar Harbor’s Simard said the bank did not zero in on any particular business sector, but dealt across the spectrum, from memory care facilities to grocery store renovations and new apartment buildings. The bank also helped finance the retrofit of older buildings by manufacturers looking to set up shop as well. 

“Diversity is a good weapon,” he said. 

Who are New Hampshire’s fastest-growing lenders of 2022? See our rankings here.

Kevin Rourke, a senior vice president and head of commercial banking at Massachusetts’ Salem Five, said the bank has gotten a big boost form its involvement in a syndicate of lenders providing financing for a $1 billion redevelopment of the old Rockingham Park racetrack in Salem. 

The 170-acre Tuscan Village project, now moving into its second phase, features 2.8 million square feet of shops, hotels, apartments, offices and restaurants. 

At No. 9, Salem Five saw its commercial lending in New Hampshire quadruple in the first half of 2022, rising to over $24 million. 

Warehouse and industrial deals were another strongpoint for the bank. 

“It was a nice increase for us,” Rourke said. 

Connections and deep experience in the New Hampshire market were also key in driving the increased loan volume, bank executives said. 

Salem Five says its top New Hampshire loan officer has a long history in the local market, while Bar Harbor says its chief credit officer and two other senior lenders are currently based in New Hampshire. 

The bank is also interviewing to fill a couple more positions as well. 

“We have real decision makers on the ground,” Simard said. 

The Leaderboard 

Overall, Bank of America saw the biggest jump in commercial lending activity in the first half of 2022, both percentage-wise, and in total volume, crossing the $500 million mark, up from $14.6 million during the same period in 2021, Warren Group stats show. 

Massachusetts’ Rockland Trust Co. came in at No. 2, having inked $23.6 million in commercial loans during the first half of 2022, up from $1.2 million the year before. 

Rhode Island’s Citizens Financial Group weighed in at No. 3, inking more than $61 million in commercial loans through the first half of 2022, up from $5.2 million in 2021 

The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority and Massachusetts-based HarborOne Mortgage Co. rounded things out at No. 5 and No. 6, with NHFA jumping to $75.8 million, up from $11.8 million, while HarborOne did over $29 million in deals, up from $5.2 million, according to The Warren Group. 

Residential Lenders Also See Growth 

Rising interest rates have put a damper on home sales across the country. 

However, the first six months of 2022 saw a number of banks ramp up their residential lending. 

Holy Rosary Credit Union, which has branches in the Rochester/Dover area, posted the biggest percentage gains, with residential lending topping $11.3 million in the first half of 2022, up from $2.7 million last year. 

Boston-based Eastern Bank, which came in at No. 2, saw big gains, both percentage-wise and in overall volume. 

The bank nearly tripled its residential loan volume, to $92 million, up from $33 million the year before. 

Massachusetts’ Pentucket Bank and Metro Credit Union, plus Ohio’s Key Bank, rounded out the top five. 

“Homeownership and helping a broad range of real estate developments to grow, including multifamily and all types of commercial, industrial and retail development, are some of the most effective ways to help families, individuals and business owners build long-term wealth,” said Matthew Osborne, executive vice president and senior commercial banking officer at Eastern Bank, in a statement.