Guaranteed Rate to acquire Stearns Lending

Guaranteed Rate to acquire Stearns Lending
Chicago-based lender Guaranteed Rate is acquiring multi-channel lender Stearns Holdings for an undisclosed sum, multiple sources told HousingWire Tuesday.

Employees at Stearns, which is owned by financial giant Blackstone Group, were told in an all-hands call on Tuesday afternoon, sources told HousingWire.

In a statement confirming the deal Tuesday afternoon, Guaranteed Rate said the acquisition of Stearns would boost retail loan originations and further scale its JV platform, while also developing “new multichannel capabilities.” It also noted that Blackstone would “have an interest in Guaranteed Rate and will continue to support the integration and growth of the Guaranteed Rate vision.”

The acquisition of Stearns – at one time the nation’s largest wholesaler – would provide Guaranteed Rate a significant new revenue stream as it considers a potential IPO, sources familiar with the deal told HousingWire.

Guaranteed Rate declined to comment beyond the press statement.

It’s unclear what the deal values Stearns at, but the lender originated $20 billion in mortgages last year, according to Guaranteed Rate, which itself claims to have originated $73 billion in mortgages in 2020.

Stearns operates across several channels, though it’s best known for its broker-focused operations and corporate partnerships. Stearns has exclusive partnerships with real estate agent, builder and corporate relocation joint ventures, as well as a book of business with SoFi and Home Mortgage Alliance.

The strategy dovetails nicely with that of Guaranteed Rate, which has joint ventures with brokerage conglomerate Realogy and Chicago-based @properties.

Blackstone took full control of Stearns in fall 2019 after it exited bankruptcy due to significant debt problems.

Guaranteed Rate said it expects that the deal to strengthen its capital markets execution and produce synergies that will allow for stronger profitability in the years to come.

Founded in 2000 and known for its robust retail operations, Guaranteed Rate has been growing in stature in recent years. Stearns’ retail operations will be folded into Guaranteed Rate, though the wholesale, JV, and partnership businesses will remain as stand-alone segments led by Stearns’ CEO David Schneider.

Guaranteed Rate ended the year as the 11th-largest lender in the country, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. The Chicago-based firm had two loan originators eclipse $1 billion in originations in 2020.
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