New Hampshire’s top loan originators are hoping to duplicate their surprisingly strong business activity in 2022 that was partially driven by a rise in construction loans.
Amid an overall plunge in refinancing deals and a continued decline in the number of home sales statewide in 2022, most loan originators at banks, credit unions and mortgage companies saw their loan volume decrease last year, sometimes by 40 percent or more, according to data from The Warren Group, the real estate data analytics and publishing company that publishes The Registry Review.
But the top loan originator at a New Hampshire bank actually saw a rise in business in 2022, despite all the challenges facing the residential real estate market across the state and nation last year.
Lori Borrin, a vice president and mortgage loan officer at Meredith Village Savings Bank, was the top loan originator across New Hampshire last year by loan volume, generating $81.5 million in business, up from $66 million in 2021, according to The Warren Group.
The second largest bank loan originator, Matthew Thomas, a mortgage loan officer at Merrimack County Savings Bank, saw his dollar volume decline last year, but at a slower rate compared to most other LOs across the Granite State. Thomas’s loan business decreased by 16 percent, to $65.7 million, in 2022, according to The Warren Group.
Both Borrin and Thomas posted their relatively solid volume numbers despite a sharp fall-off in actual loans closedlast year. Borrin saw her loan numbers fall from 243 in 2021 to 205 in 2022, while Borrin saw his numbers tumble from 294 to 203 during the same time period.
Other loan originators across the state saw similar declines in loans closed, as rising interest rates tamped down both demand and supply for home sales, industry observers say.
Who were New Hampshire’s top
loan originators of 2022?
See our rankings to find out.
Construction Lending Buoyed Top LOs
Borrin and Thomas, whose banks are both part of mutual holding company New Hampshire Mutual Bancorp, attributed their 2022 success to a number of factors, such as the continued demand-supply imbalance that once again pushed home prices to higher levels last year in New Hampshire.
The two also credited the strong back-office support provided by New Hampshire Mutual Bancorp.
“Our back-office staff are unbelievable,” said Thomas. “They kept the pedal to the metal last year.”
Specifically, Borrin and Thomas praised their back-office’s fast processing of construction loans in 2022, which cover loans for land purchases, home renovations, tear-downs and new construction.
“Construction loans kept us busy last year,” said Borrin, noting her construction-loan activity was up by about 20 percent in 2022. “People are buying land and building later. We’ve worked to fine-tune the construction [loan] process, which kept our volume strong.”
Thomas didn’t provide numbers about his construction loan activity. But he said his construction-loan business did rise last year, though not by enough to offset the nearly 65 percent decline in refinancing deals last year.
“Construction loans allowed us to do a lot more volume,” said Thomas. “Construction loans really helped in 2022.”
But will construction-loan activity continue to pick up some of the loan-origination slack in 2023?
Borrin and Thomas are obviously hoping so. They’re also hoping overall home sales – and mortgage transactions – pick up through the end of the year.
An Uphill Battle for More Loans
Right now, though, it looks like an uphill battle.
Joanie McIntire, an associate broker at Coldwell Banker J. Hampe Assoc., said there were only 983 homes listed for sale as of late April in New Hampshire, a number that’s significantly down compared to years past.
“It’s hard for me to see a path to significantly increased inventory at this point,” she said, adding that demand for homes continues to outstrip the supply of homes for sale in New Hampshire.
Still, Kurt Strandson, owner and president of Pinnacle Mortgage Group, said he’s bullish about the rest of 2023. Last year, Strandson was the fifth-highest-grossing loan originator by volume among mortgage-company lenders in New Hampshire, generating $41.9 million in loan volume across 127 transactions.
He noted that interest rates may have risen last year from around 3 percent to as high as 7 percent, but they’ve since tumbled down to about 5 to 6 percent.
That slight decline could entice those who got higher mortgage rates last year to refinance this year, he said. The decrease may also encourage buyers and the sellers on the sidelines to jump back into the market.
Strandson added interest rates could fall even further if inflation continues to slowly decline. “When inflation falls, so do mortgage rates,” he said.
As a result, Strandson said his company has been hiring more employees in anticipation of an improving market.
“We believe the shift is already under way,” he said
Other loan originators are more cautious, but they say there is reason for optimism, especially if interest rates hold steady or even fall more.
“I’m definitely seeing volume picking up,” said Thomas. “We’ll see.”
“Right now, things are slower than normal,” said Borrin. “But I think it will pick up slowly. There’s a lot of uncertainty. But if rates come down or stabilize, we could see an increase in business over last year.”