Entering new markets

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

Mequon-based Moneyline Mortgage has expanded its downtown Milwaukee office with the addition of the company’s first commercial mortgage division. Previously, the company had a residential division with six employees working in a 1,400-square-foot office space on the eighth floor at 828 N. Broadway. The company has moved those employees into a 6,000-square-foot space on the seventh floor and added a commercial mortgage division there with 12 employees.
Moneyline’s other office locations are in Jefferson, Brookfield and Wauwatosa.
Moneyline Mortgage was established in 1997, and most of its mortgages have been for residential property buyers.
The company’s executives carefully examined how it might best be able to expand its services. The commercial mortgage market was the best choice, said James Browning, president of Moneyline Mortgage.
"It’s a wide open market," he said. "And the licensing is not as stringent. More importantly, it’s a huge market that a well-positioned broker could do well in."
A team of 12 of Moneyline’s employees was formed to create the commercial division. They are the company’s "best and brightest," Browning said. The team will work to sell mortgages for commercial real estate projects ranging from gas stations to restaurants to manufacturing facilities.
It was important to place the commercial mortgage office in Moneyline’s downtown office because of the prestige a downtown location carries, Browning said. With the 12-person commercial "coalition" and the five-person residential team that moved from the eight floor, Moneyline occupies the entire seventh floor of the building.
"We want a presence that will show quality," Browning said. "And I think we’ve got a mix of people in this (commercial) coalition who will be able to be players in a lot of opportunities."
Moneyline Mortgage had about $72 million in revenues for 2004. The company’s revenues are expected to rise at least 10 percent for this year, Browning said.
"I put that onto the people involved in the company," Browning said. "As we grow, we’re finding ways to find other niche markets."
The launch of the commercial mortgage division will lead to much of the company’s growth, but it is difficult to predict how much revenues will increase this year, Browning said.
Adding to that difficulty are two separate efforts that Moneyline Mortgage has made in recent years to reach emerging segments in the residential market in southeastern Wisconsin.
Moneyline has several employees working in different offices who speak Spanish, which has helped the company tap into the Hispanic market. In addition, the company now has an employee, named Karina Chichelnitskaya, who is fluent in Russian. She works in the Mequon office and is able to work with a well-established Russian population along the North Shore.
"I have an affinity for people who have come to the United States and struggled to get things done," Browning said. "We go the extra mile to do teaching to help them acclimate themselves better, so they can know what’s going on and get better help."
Browning said he’s also hoping to establish a foothold in the construction mortgage market with Moneyline Mortgage. Most of those loans are currently done by banks. Moneyline has four construction lenders now, but Browning said that division has not had as big an impact on the market as he thinks it could have.
Meanwhile, Moneyline is also preparing to open its first out-of-state offices near Ft. Meyers, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn., this summer.
The booming real estate market in Florida made that state an attractive place to establish the company’s first out-of-state office, Browning said. The company will start with residential mortgages there, but could eventually expand into the commercial market.
The Florida office should be open by late July or early August, Browning said, depending on when he is able to complete educational and testing required by law in the state.
"As the broker of record, I have to take a 24-hour, three day course in mid-June and take a test at the end of the month," Browning said. "We have about four people down there ready to be on board (for staff) and we could be operational by July or August at the latest."
The Tennessee office should open at about the same time as the Florida office. The company is opening the office there because there are people close to Browning and the company that are relocating there, he said.
Moneyline is hoping to expand more in the future, Browning said, but has no definite plans now. The company’s next step will be connecting with a national lender, which would give it the ability to do loans in almost any state, he said.
"Our growth is dependent on finding the right people in the right places," Browning said. "We want to be careful. When you farm things out and lose control, that’s when people get taken advantage of."

Moneyline Mortgage
Address: Headquarters at 1001 W. Glen Oaks Lane, Mequon, four other locations in
southeast Wisconsin
Industry: Mortgage lender
Employees: 85
Revenues: About $72 million in 2004
Web site: moneylinemortgage.instantlender.com

June 10, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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