Two New York banks expanding in home lending along the East Coast announced Monday that they had bought additional mortgage offices.
Long Island Bancorp, Melville, said it had purchased two mortgage offices - in North Carolina and Pennsylvania - from Fleet Financial Group. And New York City-based Sterling Bancorp said it had acquired a company that operates three offices in the metropolitan area - two on Long Island, east of the city, and one in Westchester County, to the north.
Terms of the deals were not announced.
The loan centers that Long Island Bancorp bought are among a dozen in the East that Fleet is shedding as part of a restructuring.
With the purchases, Long Island Bancorp has mortgage centers in nine states from Connecticut to North Carolina.
"We have an ongoing strategy of building a retail mortgage franchise up and down the East Coast," said Joseph Bryant, executive vice president in charge of the bank's mortgage company.
Long Island Bancorp last year originated more than $1 billion of mortgages. The company typically sells its fixed loans into the secondary market while holding on to variable-rate products.
The offices that Sterling Bancorp acquired originated $190 million of loans last year. They are expected to top $200 million in 1996.
The purchase "provides us with the critical elements to build an expanded mortgage banking business throughout the Eastern Seaboard," said Louis J. Cappelli, Sterling Bancorp's chairman.
"We see this as the latest opportunity for Sterling to pursue our strategy of developing strong niche businesses with above-average profit potential," Mr. Cappelli said.
Sterling Bancorp already operates mortgage centers in Virginia, and it recently expanded into Maryland and North Carolina.
Although the acquisitions will add business, the banks remain up against some heady competition from other banks and independent mortgage companies.
"It can be very difficult," said Diane M. Casey, national director of financial services at Grant Thornton in Washington. "You have to offer product (and) packaging and provide flexibility."
The message is not lost on the bankers. "The mortgage business is very competitive," said Mr. Bryant of Long Island Bancorp. "It takes planning, vision, and execution of your strategy."
He said Long Island Bancorp seeks to stand apart by offering products such as special loans for newly constructed homes.