Mortgage industry veteran Jeffrey Appel has left Bank of America to start a new team at MetLife Home Loans.
Appel — a well-known figure in the industry and host of the Real Estate Board of New York’s Real Estate Master’s Series — and his partner at Bank of America, Ken Evans, are joining forces with Brooklyn-based Trachtman & Bach alumni John Bach and Frank Tamayo.
“We have basically put together a dream team to cover Manhattan and Brooklyn with MetLife,” Appel said.
The team comprises a new branch of MetLife Home Loans, Appel explained, with Evans as the branch manager, Bach as the sales manager, and Appel and Tamayo as the two lead salespeople. The team currently has 12 people and is looking to grow, Appel said.
John Bach and Frank Tamayo will continue to be based in Brooklyn And Are Currently Looking For Office Space On Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, while Appel and Evans will be based in Manhattan at 260 Madison Avenue between 38th and 39th streets.
The team will focus on addressing New York City’s need for jumbo and other non-conforming loans, Appel said, including mortgages at new condominiums with less than 51 percent of units sold — a Fannie Mae requirement that has caused significant hurdles for New York City developers.
“The lending environment obviously has changed,” Appel said. “The larger lenders have been struggling with how to do business in this new environment.”
Founded within the past two years, MetLife Home Loans is a division of 10-year-old MetLife Bank, which in turn is a subsidiary of the 150-year-old Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (known as MetLife).
Since MetLife Home Loans is smaller than Bank of America, Appel said he believes it’s better poised to handle New York City’s high prices and many self-employed borrowers.
“New York is a unique market full of non-conforming borrowers and unique properties,” he said. “We feel that MetLife is in a better position to deal with the complexity and uniqueness of this market.”
Or, as Bach put it, “the underwriting is more common-sense than at other places.”
Appel explained that Met Life, which is seeking to establish a greater presence in the New York market, is able to underwrite loans based on its own requirements, not Fannie Mae’s. That means the team will evaluate loans on a case-by-case basis.
“Met Life is not going to be careless,” he said. “But we are willing to underwrite mortgages to our standards.”
For example, he said, most lenders will not consider a new condo project where less than 51 percent of the units have been sold. But his team can underwrite loans in projects with only a few units sold, after evaluating factors like sales velocity at the project and whether the developer is willing to adjust prices.
“We’re not going to want to place mortgages in a building where the developer is looking to rent all the units,” he said. “But we don’t mind being the first lender in a building,” as long as the developer is taking steps to get units sold, he said.
Appel, previously a real estate agent in California, worked at Manhattan Mortgage company for seven years before moving to Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Preferred Empire Mortgage Company. He stayed there for four years, working alongside Evans, who had previously worked at Trachtman & Bach. When Elliman created DE Capital Mortgage in a joint venture with Wells Fargo in 2009, Appel and Evans left for Bank of America.
“I didn’t feel comfortable with the role that I could play in the joint venture,” said Appel, who is also head of corporate training at new residential brokerage, Town.
Trachtman & Bach is now defunct, and at that point, Bach and Tamayo were working at Bank of America. They later departed for DE Capital Mortgage.
Bach said the four have talked for months about establishing a team.
“This is exciting what we’re establishing here, as a team,” he said. “We think we can make quite an impact.”