HomeStreet to sell $5B in mortgage servicing rights

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HomeStreet in Seattle has agreed to sell a portfolio of mortgage servicing rights.

The $6.9 billion-asset company said in a press release Tuesday that it will sell the rights to service about $5 billion in unpaid balances for single-family mortgages. It did not identify the buyer or disclose the price of the deal.

The transaction is expected to close by Aug. 16.

HomeStreet said the portfolio represents about a fifth of the single-family loans is services for other lenders.

The company also said it will transfer about $27 million of related deposit balances to the buyer.

The transaction “is part of our ongoing balance sheet and capital management,” Mark Mason, HomeStreet’s chairman, president and CEO, said in the release. “This sale will provide regulatory capital relief to support the continued growth of our commercial and consumer banking business.”

While the sale will improve HomeStreet’s overall risk profile, Mason said the company remains committed to mortgage servicing. “This strategy has historically been a competitive advantage and these assets have generated strong returns on equity through the cycle,” he said.

The servicing rights deal follows HomeStreet’s decision to close 18 mortgage offices and cut jobs as part of a plan to save $13.1 million annually.

The announcement also comes less than a month after Blue Lion Capital, one of HomeStreet’s biggest investors, suggested that the company consider selling itself. The shareholder has also urged management to sell its MSRs and close any mortgage offices that is unable to earn its cost of capital.

Blue Lion has frequently criticized HomeStreet, which has bought four banks since 2013, for its focus on mortgages and acquisitions. The investor had planned to nominate two candidates to HomeStreet’s board and submit a proposal to separate the chairman and CEO roles. But HomeStreet invalidated the paperwork.

Blue Lion also asked shareholders to reject two HomeStreet director nominees and to vote against a nonbinding advisory proposal on executive pay. That effort was also invalidated because Blue Lion failed to get the prerequisite approval from the bank’s state regulator.

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