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April 15, 2016  

Berkeley Point Buys Oppenheimer's FHA Unit

Berkeley Point Capital, a rapidly growing agency lender owned by CCRE, has acquired Oppenheimer & Co.’s FHA-lending platform.

With the transaction, which closed last week, Berkeley Point assumed 17 originators and underwriters, along with Oppenheimer’s pipeline of pending loans. The acquired unit, Oppenheimer Multifamily Housing & Healthcare Finance of North Wales, Pa., primarily originates FHA loans on assisted-living facilities, nursing homes and other healthcare properties.

The takeover significantly expands Berkeley Point’s footprint in the FHA market. Last year, Oppenheimer was the sector’s ninth-biggest lender, with $380.5 million of closed FHA-insured loans, according to a ranking published by sector leader Red Capital. Berkeley Point, based in Bethesda, Md., ranked 36th, with $71.1 million of closed FHA loans.

The Oppenheimer employees moving over to Berkeley Point don’t include the operation’s senior management team. Among those making the move is Philip Abrams, an assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the 1980s and a former FHA commissioner.

The merged Berkeley Point-Oppenheimer operation will be overseen by Robert Wrzosek, a former Hunt Mortgage president who joined Berkeley Point early this year as an executive managing director.

The terms of the acquisition couldn’t be learned, but people familiar with the details said it includes the transfer of the employees and a relatively small payment for the loan pipeline. The transaction excludes Oppenheimer’s $4.1 billion servicing portfolio of FHA loans, which is being sold separately.

Berkeley Point, which CCRE acquired in 2014, is already one of the top originators of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac multi-family loans. Last year, it sold $5.6 billion of mortgages to the agencies, the fifth-highest total, up 87% from 2014.

CCRE is a major originator of commercial MBS loans. Last year, it contributed $4.1 billion of private-label loans to securitizations, ranking 10th in the sector. But CMBS activity is down sharply this year, so the acquisition of the Oppenheimer unit could be a hedge against that trend. One person close to Berkeley Point said the firm’s FHA, Fannie and Freddie lending could grow by as much as a third over the next year or so.