FB Financial in Tenn. joins list of banks warning of sputtering mortgage volume

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FB Financial in Nashville, Tenn., is bracing for a big decline in mortgage originations.

The $4.7 billion-asset company disclosed in a regulatory filing Friday that profit in its mortgage business could fall by 23% to 34% in 2018 from a year earlier.

FB Financial specifically said that the business should produce pretax earnings of $10 million to $12 million for the rest of this year. That compares to $18.2 million in 2017 and $2.1 million in the first quarter.

The company began expanding its mortgage banking operation in 2010, opening loan production offices in markets throughout Tennessee and other Southeastern states. It began originating loans online in 2014.

FB Financial closed $6.3 billion of home loans last year.

The new guidance comes about a month after management had expressed optimism that mortgage-related pretax earnings in 2018 would be similar to what was reported in 2017.

Still, the company forecast an industrywide decline in mortgage originations, noting in its recent annual report that its own production “could be materially and adversely affected by rising interest rates.”

Wilburn Evans, who manages FB Financial’s mortgage banking operations, also indicated during a conference call last month that tougher times were expected. “The overall industry is down and we’re seeing everybody compete with that [reduced] volume,” he said.

With interest rates rising, a number of banks have struggled with mortgage lending.

The $7 billion-asset HomeStreet in Seattle recently announced plans to cut 37 mortgage-related jobs after its home-loan unit posted a $4.3 million loss in the first quarter. The $20 billion-asset MB Financial in Chicago, which just agreed to be sold to Fifth Third Bancorp, said in April that it was exiting mortgage lending entirely.

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