Guaranteed Rate’s Stearns acquisition: What’s the plan?

Guaranteed Rate announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Stearns Holdings, LLC, one of the nation’s top 25 lenders with more than $20 billion in origination volume in 2020 that is part of funds managed by Blackstone. Already one of America’s largest retail mortgage lenders, Guaranteed Rate reportedly is building on its goal to become the country’s top mortgage lender.

Texas-based Stearns, founded in 1989, operates retail, joint venture (JV), partnership and wholesale channels in all 50 states. The acquisition will enable Guaranteed Rate “to bolster retail loan origination and further scale its JV platform, while also developing new multichannel capabilities,” the company said in an announcement.

Guaranteed Rate is acquiring Stearns from Blackstone, which will have an unspecified interest in Guaranteed Rate and will continue to support the integration.

Retail, wholesale: What’s the plan?

The acquisition also allows Guaranteed Rate’s wholesale channel to complement the company’s multichannel distribution vision.

The plan is to integrate and rebrand Stearns’ retail operation as Guaranteed Rate, while Stearns’ wholesale and partnership businesses will remain as stand-alone operations led by David Schneider, the current Stearns CEO.

“We’re thrilled about this transaction,” said Schneider. “Guaranteed Rate is a formidable player in the mortgage industry, and this combination will empower our employees and partners.”

Expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, the acquisition is subject to customary closing and regulatory approvals.

“We are fully behind Victor Ciardelli and the entire Guaranteed Rate team,” said Nadim El Gabbani, senior managing director at Blackstone. “This combination creates a powerful player in the mortgage industry… over the long term.”

The pending acquisition comes at a time when Guaranteed Rate reported its best production year ever, funding over $73 billion in loans in 2020. Guaranteed Rate continues to expand via acquisitions while leveraging its expertise in running joint ventures and partnership platforms, where Stearns has a strong presence.

“We’re excited about bringing Stearns Holdings into the Guaranteed Rate family,” said Victor Ciardelli, Guaranteed Rate president and CEO. “Pairing the incredible talent throughout Stearns’ organization with that of our existing team exemplifies the best of the best in the mortgage business, yielding an even more powerful platform.”

Stearns’ extensive partnership model includes real estate agent, builder and relocation joint ventures, private label relationships and independent mortgage bank preferred partnerships that include brands such as SoFi and Home Mortgage Alliance.

Combined with Guaranteed Rate’s existing joint ventures Realogy and @properties, the company said, they will create “one of the largest partnership platforms in the country.”



Chase, NASB, PrimeLending, Navy CU & GR named among NerdWallet’s best mortgage lenders

NerdWallet, the personal finance website and app, recently announced its 2021 Best-Of Award winners, which according to the company recognize the best personal finance products in several categories: mortgages, auto insurance, banking, credit cards, investing, personal loans, student loans, taxes and travel rewards.

Each category recognizes several segments. For mortgage lending, those segments (and the winning companies) include:

  • Best Mortgage Lender Overall: North American Savings Bank (NASB)
  • Best Mortgage Lender for First-Time Home Buyers (tie): Chase and North American Savings Bank (NASB)
  • Best Mortgage Lender for Refinancing (tie): Better.com and Guaranteed Rate
  • Best Mortgage Lender for Home Equity Lines of Credit: Connexus Credit Union
  • Best Mortgage Lender for FHA Loans (tie): Alterra Home Loans and PrimeLending
  • Best Mortgage Lender for VA Loans (tie): Navy Federal Credit Union and North American Savings Bank (NASB)
  • Best Mortgage Lender for Jumbo Loans (tie): Chase and Flagstar Bank
  • Best Mortgage Lender for Online Loans (tie): Guaranteed Rate and Wells Fargo

Winners are selected by a team of NerdWallet industry experts who use comprehensive scoring methodologies that assess each financial product’s key features, weighting them according to their importance to consumers, the company said in a statement.

“Now more than ever, consumers need a resource to help them navigate today’s challenging economic environment, and the annual Best-Of Awards are designed to highlight our partners that are helping consumers achieve their individual money goals,” said Tim Chen, CEO and co-founder of NerdWallet. “We’re excited to congratulate this year’s Best-Of winners that continue to develop innovative financial solutions to set consumers up for success this coming year.”

MeridianLink®, a provider of cloud-based software solutions for financial institutions that include LendingQB mortgage LOS and Mortgage Credit Link, announced the acquisition of certain assets of TazWorks™, a premier technology platform for consumer reporting agencies (CRAs).

This acquisition will bring together two reporting technology experts, helping to fuel innovation and enabling rapidly increased product development for clients, the company said in a statement.

“TazWorks is a leading provider of technology specifically designed to meet the needs of the background and tenant screening industry and has helped consumers throughout its history,” said Nicolaas Vlok, CEO of MeridianLink. “I believe that combining two technology innovators like TazWorks and MeridianLink will accelerate innovation and further technological advancements for clients.”

“For almost 20 years, our team has been committed to delighting our CRA clients with impactful technology and services, and we could not be more optimistic about the future of the company under MeridianLink’s leadership,” said Scott Kimball, CTO and co-founder of TazWorks. “The infusion of additional resources will enable accelerated development of our product roadmap and a more agile API to further the success of new and existing clients.”

All TazWorks technology, products, and support remain available under the MeridianLink suite of products. The combined industry knowledge of both organizations provides a platform for further enhanced data reporting technology and streamline workflows for clients and their customers. 

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