Make us your home page
Instagram

Tampa entrepreneur's mortgage lending gamble paying off

Since January, assets of Jerry Campbell’s Tampa-based HomeBanc lending venture have jumped 84 percent.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Since January, assets of Jerry Campbell’s Tampa-based HomeBanc lending venture have jumped 84 percent.

What are the odds of winning in a ravaged industry like mortgage lending, especially when you name your fledgling company after one of the biggest lenders to melt down in the Southeast?

For longtime banker and avid thoroughbred racehorse owner Jerry Campbell, that gambit has paid off like a glorious day at the track.

Since buying rights to the HomeBanc name out of bankruptcy court and raising $45 million in a public offering two years ago, Campbell's Tampa-based institution has been on a tear.

The new HomeBanc's assets have jumped 84 percent since January, from $100 million to $184 million, and the company is on track to pass the $200 million mark by year-end. This year, it opened two more bay area branches — in Westchase and Belleair Bluffs — giving the bank four branches in Tampa, one in Orlando and one in Sarasota.

Some of its growth, Campbell said, came courtesy of Wachovia Corp. customers who defected before that troubled megabank was absorbed into Wells Fargo. "There's an old expression that there's not an ill wind that doesn't blow someone something good," he said.

At 69, Campbell has spent more than 40 years in banking, much of it in Michigan where he built up Republic Bancorp into the second-biggest bank in Michigan ($6.5 billion in assets) before selling it and moving to one of his favorite getaways, Tampa. Campbell, who's commuted to and from the bay area for more than 25 years to stay at a Clearwater Beach condo and race horses at Tampa Bay Downs, recently sat down with the Times.

HomeBanc is described as a full-service bank. How much of your business is mortgage origination?

It's almost all mortgage origination. We're a conforming single-family mortgage lender. ... We deal with Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the (Federal Housing Administration).

Is the mortgage climate improving, or is the recent rise in interest rates scaring away buyers?

The rise in interest rates a couple of weeks ago has already abated. Rates are still extremely low. We're seeing a lot of first-time home buyers, a lot of FHA properties and a lot of VA product. Eighty-two percent of our volume in the month of June were home purchases, not refinances.

June was by far the best month we've had all year. Our volume was up dramatically. We've got 21 loan officers in the Tampa market, and we're seeing a real building presence here. It's still not robust in the market, but it feels real good to us.

How are you growing when others are shrinking?

Others are growing, but a lot of people have pulled back in the past two years. They cut back their staff. They cut back their efforts. If you were underwriting mortgages in 2005 or 2006, you're probably underwater.

We have the advantage of timing (in entering the market). There's a great sale with (the price of homes) in the Tampa Bay market down 35 percent from where it was in 2005. It's really a great time to buy a house.

The old Atlanta-based HomeBanc was well-known in the region with $8 billion worth of loans when it entered bankruptcy. Has buying the name helped or hindered you?

I think it's helped. Most people in the market don't even know what happened to HomeBanc. They had some offices in Tampa and all of a sudden they closed. There wasn't a lot of publicity about it.

We think it's a great name, and it typifies the business we're in. In a couple of limited cases, people have called us for a payoff in their mortgage that they got five years ago from the old HomeBanc, and we've helped them track down where that mortgage went.

Are we on the path to financial recovery or do you see more upheaval ahead?

What's been happening in my opinion is there's no stimulus whatsoever. All this year, it's about billions and trillions going to stabilization. It's not, 'How do we get the economy going?' I've written everyone in Washington that I can think of that we need a mortgage plan that would stimulate the industry. We need a long-term low rate.

Take the (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money. I think in Florida only 15 banks in the whole state out of 425 banks got TARP money. It's not having a great impact in Florida or anywhere in the U.S. Almost all the TARP money has gone to the two coasts, and it's not working. It started out they were going to buy troubled assets, and now they switched to force-feeding capital.

I'm a giant critic of what's going on. We just hit a 26-year-high unemployment rate, and everyone is predicting that's going to go higher. And I'm very concerned there's no stimulus out there, and we're still sinking. No one has heard that thud that's called hitting the bottom.

Away from the banking world, how's the horse breeding and horse racing business going?

That's what brought us to Tampa in the first place. We've been racing at Tampa Bay Downs for 30 years now. We've had 25 horses there this year. Tampa Bay Downs is a wonderful spot; it reminds me of a giant fairgrounds.

You've had your share of winners at the Downs?

I guess we've won several hundred races. We had a horse called Above the Wind. He won those big stakes races in Tampa three different years in a row. ... We had a horse called Tricks of Glory. It went off as a high odds, and it won and actually paid $116 on a $2 bet to win and $5,700 on a $2 trifecta bet. You just need to do that once a day and you're happy.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8242.

fast facts

Jerry D. Campbell

Title: president and CEO of HomeBancorp, parent of Tampa-based HomeBanc (formerly Community National Bank of the South)

Age: 69

Family: wife, Lisa; a daughter, 21, and a son, 15.

Other business ventures: breeds and trains thoroughbred race horses at Campbell Stables in Grass Lake, Mich.; operates Pinnacle Race Course in New Boston, Mich.; half-ownership of Star Tickets Plus, the fourth-largest ticketing business in the country.

Banking history: chairman and CEO of Republic Bancorp Inc. in Michigan from 1986 to 2000; former chairman of Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc. and Citizens Wealth Management.

Affiliations: former board member and chairman of Central Michigan University; taught finance, banking and investment at Wayne State University; on the board of Magna Entertainment Corp., which operates 15 horse-racing tracks.

Tampa entrepreneur's mortgage lending gamble paying off 07/10/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 10, 2009 9:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay's Top 100 Workplaces deadline extended to Nov. 17

    Business

    Think you work at one of the best places in Tampa Bay? You've got a little more time to make a pitch.

    Penny Hoarder and Gregory, Sharer & Stuart were among those at an event in Tampa last May honoring winners of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces awards. Nominations are now open for this year.  
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  2. Tampa-based Checkers testing delivery, aims for record expansion

    Retail

    TAMPA — Tampa-based Checkers Drive-In Restaurants continues to fly under the radar compared to dominant burger chains like McDonald's and Burger King.

    Checkers Franchisee Shaji Joseph, of Tampa, hoses down the front walkway of his store at 6401 Park Boulevard, Pinellas Park. The business has a new look including signage and exterior tile. One drive through has been eliminated for an outdoor dining area, right. Joseph owns nine Checkers and is planning to open his tenth in Tampa.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times ]
  3. City Council approves $5 million for Clearwater Marine Aquarium expansion

    Briefs

    CLEARWATER — The City Council on Thursday approved contributing $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for its massive expansion project.

    Clearwater has agreed to contributed $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium 
's $66 million expansion project.. [ Clearwater Marine Aquarium] 


  4. Trigaux: Florida, Tampa Bay lagging in growth of their startups

    Economic Development

    The annual assessment of how entrepreneurs are doing across the country is out from the Kauffman Foundation — among the best watchers of the nation's startup scene. How do Florida and Tampa Bay fare?

    Lured by financial incentives, startup GeniusCentral relocated from Manatee County in 2015 to St. Petersburg, promising to creatye 40 new jobs. It took downtown space in an appropriately creative workpace for entrepreneurs. It did not last there, later moving back to less expensive space in Manatee. A new Kauffman Index report on entrepreneurship found that Florida is a good place to launch startups but a tougher place to grow them.
[SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Pleasant dreams: sleep travel site gives high marks to Tampa airport

    Airlines

    TAMPA — Traveling might be considered closer to a nightmare than a dream for many. But that might be different for those who travel through Tampa International Airport. It was ranked the No. 3 overall best airport in North America by Sleeping in Airports, a travel site that tracks the best airports to catch some …

    Tampa International Airport was ranked as the No. 3 best overall airport by travel site Sleeping in Airports. | [Times file photo]