Columbia VA lender adds Springfield office, targets new mortgage market

Add Springfield to the growing list of Missouri cities Veterans United Home Loans has stretched to recently. The addition of Paddio is the second major expansion this year for the Columbia-based lender.

Paddio will expand the company’s lending beyond veterans and service members to the general population and will focus on conventional and Federal Housing Administration loans, according to Veterans United spokesperson Chris Cline. It will add 100 jobs in the southwest Missouri city.

“We looked at (Paddio) as an opportunity to grow the stage and help civilians in the same way we do veterans and service members,” Cline said.

The move to Springfield follows Veterans United’s January expansion into the St. Louis area, where the company has already added 120 jobs and plans to add 85 more by the end of the year, Cline said.

Additionally, the company’s Military United Insurance arm, which provides personal property insurance for military members and veterans, took root in Jefferson City last year.

The pandemic has made for a hot housing market, said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com.

“Rates have been at record lows, so there’s a lot of refinancing activity taking place as a result,” he said. “Pent-up demand for housing has meant mortgage originations are surprisingly strong despite a recession.”

Veterans United is recognized as one of the top lenders in the VA loan business. Between April and June, it ranked third among VA lenders for number of loans guaranteed and total value of loans, according to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs data. Over the same period, Veterans United guaranteed a larger number and greater value of purchase loans than any of its competitors, more than tripling the No. 2 lender in both of those measures.

VA home loan utilization was up 114% through the first three quarters of the 2020 fiscal year, according to an August report by Veterans United. VA refinance loans are up 315% over the same time period.

VA loans typically show a much lower rate of forbearance and delinquency than FHA loans, McBride said. However, it’s typical for lenders to offer a range of different programs rather than specializing in just one, he said.

Veterans United has been seriously discussing expanding to Springfield for several years, Cline said. Beyond Columbia, St. Louis and Jefferson City, the company also has offices in Kansas City. So expanding to Missouri’s third-largest city made sense for Paddio.

“It has always been in the back of our minds that Springfield is a place that we’d like to grow to,” said August Nielsen, vice president of people services for Veterans United. “Paddio was a perfect opportunity to be able to do that.”

Missouri State University and other area colleges were another factor in the decision, Cline said. The close access to graduating college students searching for jobs will make hiring easier for Paddio, mirroring how the Columbia headquarters has helped Veterans United hire its more than 3,000 employees there, he said.

Paddio had hired 33 of the 100 Springfield employees as of Sept. 18, Cline said. Its offices there opened Aug. 6.


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