Enterprise, Bellwether form JV, Eye $1.5 Billion in Mortgages


Enterprise Community Investment’s mortgage finance business is merging with Bellwether Real Estate Capital, The Commercial Observer has learned. The new company, Bellwether Enterprise Real Estate Capital, is aiming for $1.5 billion in mortgage production volume once the merger is completed, through the end of this year, some of that based here in the New York tri-state region.

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lamar seats Enterprise, Bellwether form JV, Eye $1.5 Billion in Mortgages
Lamar Seats.

The merger is expected to be completed by the end of May or June, Lamar Seats, senior vice president of Enterprise’s Multifamily Mortgage Finance business, told The Commercial Observer. Mr. Seats will head up the newly formed entity, as its CEO. Bellwether Real Estate Capital’s Ned Huffman will serve as its president.

Mr. Seats said that the two companies have very little overlap and will bring different strengths to the table.

“They bring a very strong commercial lending platform through over 25 life companies to the new organization and that’s everything from office, retail, hospitality and industrial and they also bring a very robust multifamily platform,” he said of Bellwether. “As for Enterprise, we are solely multifamily focused and our core focus is really low income and affordable housing, which we execute through Fannie Mae (FNMA), Freddie Mac (FMCC) and FHA. So we’ll be merging two companies—one with a focus on multifamily rental housing and the low income to moderate income side with Bellwether, which has a very strong commercial and then market rate multifamily business.”

Bellwether Enterprise will be based in Cleveland, Ohio but will retain a presence in the New York tri-state area, where Mr. Seats said that it will target low income and affordable housing.

“We cover the entire New York City metro area and all five boroughs so we want to do business in all of them,” he explained. As for its deal pipeline—there are targeted loans moving through, he said, both in New York City and New Jersey.

Overall, Mr. Seats said, the company expects to hit $1.5 billion in mortgage production from the time the merger takes effect, through the end of 2012, a figure he conceded was both aggressive and “very solid volume.”

In a prepared statement about the merger, Charles Werhane, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Investment, said that $1.5 billion was, in fact, only a start. “Through this merger and with planned strategic growth initiatives,” Mr. Werhane said, “we expect to build Bellwether Enterprise’s annual production volume to over $3 billion.”