WATERBURY, Conn. - Tough competition and slow business have forced many small mortgage lenders to either sell out to larger mortgage companies or banks or simply close their doors.

One Connecticut lender, though, is not only a survivor but is moving to larger quarters and making expansion plans.

Fairbank Mortgage Co. is moving to quarters four times the size of its old offices, with more than four times the staff it had three years ago. The company plans to hire additional employees once the move is complete, according to David S. Eldredge, executive vice president.

The company specializes in nonconforming loans, offering first and second mortgages and home equity loans in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. It has operated in New York for the past year under the name Colony Mortgage Bankers.

By maintaining their focus on the nonconforming area, offering, for example, 100% loan-to-value loans, Mr. Eldredge said Fairbank has been able to avoid the downturn many interest-sensitive lenders have faced.

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