Spokane Journal of Business

Sterling’s mortgage unit tops $1 billion

Action Mortgage Co. expects even greater lending activity this year, expands in Oregon

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Action Mortgage Co., a subsidiary of Spokane-based Sterling Savings Bank, topped $1 billion in total lending volume last year, the first time in the 15-year-old companys history it crossed that mark.

Action made residential mortgages and home-construction loans totaling $1.01 billion in 2003, up about 18 percent from its 2002 volume, says Ron Jarvis, the mortgage companys vice president. Action handles all of Sterlings residential mortgage lending, so even if a customer goes to a Sterling branch and applies for a mortgage, that application would be routed to Action Mortgage.

Part of Actions growth last year was fueled by historic low interest rates, which buoyed many lenders, but that wasnt the whole story, Jarvis says.

Were a very strong construction lender, and an awful lot of that (growth) was construction lending, as well, he says.

Action Mortgage expects even greater lending volume this year, despite a slowdown in residential mortgage activity due to somewhat higher interest rates, Jarvis says.

Our goals are to have an even better year than last year, he says.

Some of the anticipated growth is likely to come from the acquisition by Sterling Financial Corp., Sterling Savings parent, of Klamath First Bancorp Inc., which closed last month, he says. As part of that $145 million transaction, Sterling acquired Klamath First Federal Savings & Loan, which had 52 branches, most in Oregon, paving the way for Action Mortgages expansion in that state, Jarvis says.

Prior to the acquisition, Action mortgage had just one office in Oregon, in Lake Oswego, he says. It now has opened four more offices there, all in former Klamath First branches, but Jarvis says its unclear at this point how many Oregon operations Action ultimately might establish.

Action Mortgage now has 15 stand-alone offices and another 11 offices located within Sterling Savings branches in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana, says Sterling Savings spokeswoman Jennifer Hatley. The mortgage companys headquarters here are located at 510 W. Riverside, and it also has operations in Spokane Valley, on Spokanes North Side, and in Coeur dAlene.

The subsidiary employs 191 people, Hatley says.

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