Homebuilder taps former Stearns exec to 'optimize' its mortgage JVs

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Brian Hale, the former head of Stearns Lending, will be leading a new financial services unit at William Lyon Homes that encompasses two joint ventures the builder has with mortgage companies.

Hale, who has been named president of financial services, "will focus on optimizing our financial services initiatives, which currently consist of our interest in two separate mortgage joint ventures," said William Lyon President and CEO Matthew Zaist in a press release.

The former Stearns executive also will "explore additional ancillary business opportunities including title and insurance for the company," Zaist said.

"We believe there is a tremendous opportunity to further serve our homebuyers and complement our homebuilding operations, while providing additional sources of earnings for the company, through further offerings in financial services and other ancillary businesses," said Zaist.

Income from William Lyon's unconsolidated mortgage joint ventures was $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, Zaist said in an earnings call last month. This was down from $1.2 million in the third quarter of last year and $1.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2016.

As mortgage volumes have declined and the market has become more purchase oriented, lender partnerships with real estate companies and builders have increased.

Hale, who was known for diversifying Stearns beyond wholesale into retail and strategic alliance business lines, left the company last year after it sold its delegated correspondent lending business to Flagstar Bancorp. Stearns has been a joint venture partner with William Lyon.

"I have known the William Lyon team for over 10 years as a partner, a client and a well-respected and rapidly growing operator on the national homebuilding scene. The opportunity to contribute to the William Lyon organization through a comprehensive, integrated and thoughtful approach to financial services across the entire homebuilding platform is exciting and it is what drew me to this opportunity," Hale said in the press release.

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