General Motors Acceptance Corp., preparing for a fresh push in mortgage banking, has elevated Mark L. Korell to chief executive of its mortgage group.

Mr. Korell, a seasoned mortgage pro who had been running a GMAC securitization unit, succeeds Geoffrey C. Thomas as president and chief executive of GMAC Mortgage Corp., Elkins Park, Pa. Mr. Thomas was named chairman.

The shift, announced last week, comes as GMAC is renewing its commitment to mortgage banking. In early July, after mulling a sale of the mortgage businesses, GMAC said that it would not only keep the group but expand it.

No. 18 in Originations

GMAC Mortgage was the nation's eighth-largest servicer of mortgages at midyear, with a portfolio of $39.8 billion, according to the newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance. The company originated $3.4 billion of loans in the first half of the year, ranking No. 18.

"Led by this management team, we are confident that GMAC Mortgage is entering a new era of growth," said Robert T. O'Connell, chief executive of General Motors Acceptance.

Mr. Korell, 45, was equally upbeat.

"It's very exciting to have the largest industrial company in the world serious about the largest financial market in the world--residential mortgages," he said in a phone interview.

Since 1986, Mr. Korell has been chief executive of Residential Funding Corp., a Minneapolis operation that GMAC acquired in 1990. The unit is a leader in the business of buying high-balance loans and packaging them as securities.

Previously, he was chief executive of First Bank System Mortgage Corp.

Praise from Peers

Industry leaders said Mr. Korell may be just what GMAC Mortgage needs at the top. They hailed him as an innovator, a strong strategic thinker, and an excellent communicator.

"This guy is a real talent," said William Lacy, chief executive of Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp., one of the nation's top mortgage insurers.

Mr. Korell said that he and his family will continue to live in Minnesota, but he plans to travel frequently to Pennsylvania. Other management changes announced last week make it unnecessary for him to move, he said.

Specifically, Ralph J. Hall was promoted to the new post of general manager and chief operating Officer GMAC Mortgage Corp. of Pennsylvania and Iowa, the main mortgage banking business. He had been executive vice president of originations.

Changes at Residential

Meanwhile, Bruce Paradis has been named general manager and chief operating officer of Residential Funding. He had been executive vice president of marketing for the unit.

Michael D. Managan, who had been chief financial officer for the main mortgage unit, was promoted to a similar post for the whole mortgage group.

Mr. Thomas, the chairman, is a 32-year veteran of General Mortgage Acceptance. He was named chief executive of the mortgage group in 1989.

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