BankUnited exits residential mortgage lending

BankUnited's headquarters in Miami Lakes
BankUnited's headquarters in Miami Lakes

BankUnited, the largest bank based in South Florida, stopped making residential mortgage loans to consumers and laid off some of its staff.

Mary Harris, a spokeswoman for BankUnited, told the Miami Herald the bank’s termination of residential mortgage lending would not affect prior loan commitments.

“We remain committed to honoring all of our current loan commitments,” Harris told the Herald.

She declined to say how many employees BankUnited laid off.

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BankUnited will continue such businesses as mortgage warehousing, mortgage purchases and mortgage servicing.

Ken Thomas, a South Florida consultant to banks, told the Miami Herald he was “shocked” by BankUnited’s withdrawal from the home loan market: “If a small bank did this, that’s one thing. But this is BankUnited … When you have the biggest South Florida-based bank backing off residential lending, that raises eyebrows.”

Thomas also told the Herald that private-equity investors in BankUnited’s stock may be preparing to sell the bank. Private-equity investors acquired BankUnited out of regulatory receivership following the bank’s failure in 2009.

BankUnited has become profitable again through its focus on commercial lending and its entry into the New York City market by acquiring Herald National Bank. The bank now has 98 branch offices in Florida and six in New York City. [Miami Herald] — Mike Seemuth