Robbins Gets New Venture Off Ground

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John Robbins has created mortgage production platforms from scratch before, most notably with American Residential Mortgage and American Mortgage Network. But his latest venture, he admitted, was in at least one way a little more difficult because of how the industry environment has changed in the past few years.

The new company is a subsidiary of Bexil Corp. and will be known as Bexil American Mortgage. Robbins is its chief executive and president. During his long and distinguished career in the business, Robbins was chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association from October 2006 through October 2007.

Thomas Winmill, CEO and president of Bexil Corp., said, “We are impressed by the determination, skill and experience demonstrated by the Bexil American Mortgage management team. Accordingly, to enable the company to capture market opportunities faster, Bexil’s board of directors has approved an accelerated schedule of capital contributions to Bexil American Mortgage.”

Bexil American will originate through both the retail and wholesale channels. Its wholesale unit will have a familiar operating name, American Mortgage Network. Robbins was able to acquire the rights to the name from Wells Fargo, which had inherited it when that company purchased Wachovia Corp., the organization he had sold AmNet to.

The thing that was the biggest change in starting a mortgage banking operation today than in the past was obtaining state licenses. The process state regulators are using today is “significantly more thorough” that what had been the practice before the mortgage crisis, Robbins said.

On the other hand, getting Federal Housing Administration and Fannie Mae approvals were more efficient now than in the past.

Wells Fargo is Bexil American’s primary warehouse provider. The search for warehouse credit was not an easy one. For some warehouse providers, providing a line to a startup operation, especially a third-party originator startup, was uncharted territory, Robbins said.

But the strong management team at Bexil American, which had worked together at those two other wholesale startups, provided a level of comfort.

Bexil American also chose its loan origination system carefully (it chose Ellie Mae’s Encompass 360 over five other contenders as well as the AmRes/AmNet legacy system), because in today’s mortgage environment originators have to “create a perfect loan,” he said. If you don’t create the perfect loan, it could be subject to a repurchase request from the investor.

So over the past six months Bexil American’s management team concentrated on building its infrastructure first and foremost, “before we allowed the first loan to come through the doors,” Robbins said, adding the process was “significantly different” then the startups for AmRes and AmNet.


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