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As mortgage rates drove down refinance activity last year, some of the state’s top lenders saw their long-term strategies bear fruit as they competed for a limited number of homebuyers still in the market. 

“The results that we’ve seen the last few years has really been years in the making,” said Jodi Rathbun-Briggs, senior vice president and chief lending officer at Pittsfield-based Greylock Federal Credit Union. “We really want to meet the member where they are on their homebuying journey.” 

Every year, The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman, compiles the top 10 mortgage lenders among Massachusetts’ credit unions, banks and mortgage companies, ranked by number of loans and loan volume in several origination categories. All loans were originated in 2022. 

Even with borrowers showing interest in home equity loans and lines of credit in 2022, nonpurchase mortgages fell by 54 percent year-over-year. Lenders issued about 133,770 residential nonpurchase mortgages in 2022 compared to 291,980 in 2021. Volumes declined by nearly 56 percent in 2022 to $45.6 billion compared to about $102.9 billion in 2021.    

Purchase mortgages also fell in 2022. Lenders made about 56,400 single-family purchase loans in Massachusetts in 2022, a 16.7 percent decline from 2021. The volume of single-family mortgages declined 10.5 percent year-over-year, from $28.47 billion in 2021 to $25.48 billion in 2022. Condominium purchase mortgages fell year-over-year by 21 percent to about 17,300 loans in 2022. The volume of condo mortgages fell by 18 percent to nearly $8.2 billion. 

The Most Prolific Lenders 

Guaranteed Rate originated more than 2,500 single-family purchase mortgages for $1.4 billion in volume, the most in Massachusetts. The company also had $566 million in condominium purchase mortgages and nearly 1,200 loans, also the most among lenders in the state last year. 

Chelsea-based Metro Credit Union led credit unions with $139.5 million in single-family purchase mortgage volume, while Pittsfield-based Greylock Federal Credit Union issued the most single-family purchase loans, at 372. Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union generated the most condominium purchase mortgages with 150 loans, and Harvard University Employees Credit Union had the most volume at $60.8 million. 

See the full list of 2022’s top lenders

Arlington-based Leader Bank had the most single-family purchase activity among banks with about 1,700 in loans and $1.1 billion in volume. Leader Bank made the most condominium loans among banks, with about 1,040, while First Republic Bank had the highest volume at $628.5 million. 

Moving into second place by number of single-family purchase loans made in 2022 was Hyannis-based Cape Cod 5 with 861 mortgages. The bank’s $526.16 million in single-family purchase volumes ranked third among banks. 

Opportunity to Build Market Share 

The decline in refinance activity after the first few months of 2022 meant the bank, like other lenders, had looked for opportunities in the purchase market, said Cape Cod 5 President Bert Talerman. But, he said, the bank’s wins built on several years of work in the channel. 

“The volume speaks to our investment in people, process and technology over the last several years to put ourselves in a position to handle a pick-up in volume when the market provides that opportunity,” Talerman said. 

While the number of single-family purchase mortgages issued on Cape Cod and the Islands fell by 26 percent year-over-year, Cape Cod 5 in 2022 saw its mortgage lending increase by 15 percent. The bank also saw its share of the local single-family purchase market increase year-over-year by nearly 8 percentage points, to 20.8 percent. 

Talerman credited longtime mortgage staff and their relationships with referral sources, as well as investments the bank has made in processes and technology, including digital tools that some prospective borrowers have come to expect. 

“Being able to meet the customer where the customer wants to be met and delivering a high customer satisfaction experience so that word of mouth travels – that’s the core of how we try to operate,” Talerman said. “Deliver to people what they deserve, build a reputation, treat customers fairly. It’s a virtuous circle that way.” 

Cape Cod 5’s 2022 results also included a growing share of the Plymouth County market, and Talerman pointed to the bank’s investment in people and facilities for its growth in that market. With branches in Wareham and Plymouth, the bank plans to expand in Plymouth with a new branch to replace its location at The Pinehills community and a flagship branch in West Plymouth. 

Success Had Deep Roots 

On the other side of the state, Greylock Federal Credit Union saw its share of the Berkshire County single-family purchase market increase by more than 9 percentage points, to 25 percent. 

Rathbun-Briggs, the credit union’s chief lending officer, said Greylock has taken a relationship approach to homebuying. In addition to offering first-time homebuying classes, the credit union launched classes two years ago to help people who aren’t looking for a home but want to understand whether homeownership might be the right option for them in the future. These classes give the credit union the opportunity to start building ties years before prospective borrowers begin the homebuying process.   

Classes, which are offered in both English and Spanish, often reach capacity, Rathbun-Briggs said. 

The credit union also works with members who might not yet qualify for a mortgage. One of only two credit unions in Massachusetts that is also a community development financial institution, Greylock launched what it calls a community empowerment center in 2019 to provide financial coaching and other assistance to members, including helping build credit scores.  

As a CDFI, Greylock is eligible for grants that help fund its coaching and classes. 

The number of coaching sessions through the empowerment center increased by 30 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, Rathbun-Briggs said. 

Minority Homebuyers Powered Win 

Another product Greylock launched in late 2021, aimed at Black and African American homebuyers, was a mortgage that comes with no minimum credit score, down payment or mortgage insurance.  

“What we needed to do and what we heard from the Black and African American community is that, due to systemic racism, there’s just a number of barriers that they weren’t able to overcome on their own,” Rathbun-Briggs said.  

Greylock has partnered with Westside Legends Inc., a Black-led local organization, on this mortgage program, and the credit union closed 55 mortgages to Black and African American families in 2022, nearly 15 percent of its single-family purchase loan total. 

The credit union has also added several positions that have helped build its mortgage business, Rathbun-Briggs said, including a community lender, a Black and African American outreach coach and a lender focused on southern Berkshire County. 

Diane McLaughlin

Working with Berkshire County’s immigrant community has also helped Greylock build its mortgage business. The credit union helped about 435 immigrants obtain an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) – a substitute for a Social Security number that works regardless of someone’s immigration status – in 2022. It also offers an ITIN mortgage, and plans to build out this program in 2023, Rathbun-Briggs said. 

Greylock has upcoming technology enhancements planned, and Rathbun-Briggs also credited the credit union’s mortgage staff for contributing to its growth and competitiveness in the Berkshires. 

“What we try to do is create our own destiny instead of chasing somebody else’s – so just looking at how we can be different, how we can provide a higher level of service and a better product than our competitors,” Rathbun-Briggs said. “It’s not always a pricing game. It’s a service game; it’s a loyalty game; it’s making sure that people are really cared for and that they come back.” 

2022’s Top Lenders Grabbed Market Share in Tough Year

by Diane McLaughlin time to read: 5 min