Financing a home purchase isn’t always a leisurely walk in Memorial Park, especially since borrowing requirements were tightened after the housing crisis. But some lenders are trying to make the process easier by making it more local.
Last year, Cinco Houghton and his partner, Edmundo Portillo, acquired the mortgage business of WestStar Bank, one of the city’s largest community banks. And the department was basically picked up and moved to Cadence Lending Group’s offices at 211 W. Yandell, becoming El Paso’s second local mortgage company.
The small financial institution is in its first year of business, Houghton said, at a good time to be in the mortgage business.
“It’s going very well,” said Houghton, the company’s vice president. “We’ve built it up pretty good and have had a good group of people with us that have helped us grow rapidly.”
Cadence Lending bought the building that houses its headquarters on the edge of the Sunset Heights historic neighborhood in August 2018. The former health clinic and office space was gutted and renovated before opening that December. About 20 employees, including seven loan officers, work at Cadence.
Cadence, along with Rocky Mountain Mortgage Company, are two El Paso institutions that are not tied to large banks. Houghton said that helps keep overhead down and lets Cadence be more flexible with what they can offer.
“If it’s tied to a bank, a lot of times they have more regulations because they’re part of the bank, which has their rules on top of mortgage company rules,” Houghton said. “We’ve removed that layer.”
Houghton said the building sat vacant for nearly 10 years and needed some work. The space is now filled with natural light and plenty of room for loan officers and clients. He said the location was attractive because it’s close to Downtown but not so close that they have to worry about limited parking options.
“Parking Downtown is tough,” Houghton said. “We needed parking for employees and for clients. We didn’t want to be in an office tower where you have to park in a parking garage and go up an elevator. We wanted to be very accessible.”
Houghton said Cadence offers financing for all types of homebuyers, including first-timers, repeat buyers and buyers seeking higher loan amounts.
“We feel like we can be really competitive with higher loans as well,” Houghton said. “There’s not a mortgage company in town that’s targeting people with loan amounts higher than $250,000 or $300,000. We feel like they just go online, but we feel that we can fill that in El Paso.”
The Cadence building is on the route where the Texas Department of Transportation is studying whether to completely reconfigure Interstate 10 where it runs through Downtown. TxDOT’s plan might even include a deck park that would reshape Downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.
“I’d love it,” Houghton said. “It would be a huge enhancement for the area, and Downtown would benefit greatly from that, as well as other local businesses like ours.”
An El Paso native, Houghton graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in economics and lived in Manhattan in New York City for two years as an investment banker. He moved to Houston, where he lived for 12 years and got into the mortgage business. Three years ago, he moved back to El Paso.
There’s a new addition to the Cadence property: an El Paso Strong mural by Gabe Vasquez, the same artist who painted that original mural on Cotton.
“The Pearl Apartments did a great job with their mural, and we felt like we wanted to be apart of it,” Houghton said. “We wanted to see what we could do to show our support for El Paso and Sunset Heights.”
Email El Paso Inc. reporter Sara Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 105.