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First Federal Bank Announces Agreement to Acquire Watson Mortgage Corp.

LAKE CITY, Fla., April 18, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- First Federal Bank and Watson Mortgage Corp. announce that they have signed a definitive agreement for First Federal Bank to acquire the mortgage group. The transaction brings together two teams skilled at delivering results and award winning customer experiences. As a community-based mutual institution headquartered in Lake City, FL, First Federal Bank is owned by its customers rather than stockholders, and has 25 branches in the Southeast and operations in the Midwest.

Under the terms of the agreement, First Federal Bank will purchase Watson's mortgage business assets and will continue to serve Watson's mortgage customers throughout the entire Watson Realty footprint. With the acquisition, First Federal will gain tenured loan officers and will extend the benefits of community banking, customer service, and stability to the expanded customer base. John Medina, President and CEO, shares "Our mission is to provide solutions from a financially stable institution that is a great place to work and bank. This acquisition underscores our commitment to our customers and the residential mortgage sector. We look forward to serving the Watson Mortgage customers with the same excellence they came to expect from the team."

"We are pleased to have come to an agreement that permits our talented and dedicated team to continue providing mortgage solutions to our customers and serve our teams with valuable mortgage expertise. Watson's strategic plan for 2024 includes a strong focus on helping customers secure homes, in a challenging rate environment," says Bill Watson, Chairman of the Board of Watson Realty Corp.

The acquisition of the Watson mortgage team allows First Federal Bank to better serve the customers of both organizations by offering additional technology tools and an expanded product offering. First Federal anticipates retention of the vast majority of employees of the Watson Mortgage. "We look forward to welcoming the new employees and the Watson relationship to our Residential Lending Team. Watson Mortgage will enhance our retail lending capabilities and market share in the communities we serve," says Paul Ottendorf, Residential Lending Division President. It is anticipated the Watson platform will transition to the First Federal brand within a few months of closing. Since 2020, customers have increased their use of digital tools and First Federal continues to invest in providing cutting-edge digital solutions to customers, coupled with personal service. "Watson's team excels at serving our customers and looks forward to add to our product offerings and joining the larger First Federal mortgage business," says Mike DiClemente, President of Watson Mortgage. With the steady, forward-thinking leadership, the bank will continue to be lauded as one of the best regional banks.

About First Federal Bank

First Federal Bank is a leading financial institution committed to serving the needs of its customers and communities. With banking locations in northern and central Florida and coastal South Carolina, and mortgage operation centers in Jacksonville, FL, Alpharetta, GA, Madison, WI, and Overland Park, KS, First Federal Bank is a community-owned bank that provides a wide range of consumer and commercial banking solutions, services, and loans. Additionally, SBA and USDA customers are served by lending offices across the Southeast and Midwest, and mortgages are offered nationwide. With over $3.9 billion in assets, First Federal is headquartered in Lake City, Florida and has a steadfast focus on innovation and customer satisfaction. The bank is consistently recognized with a "5-Star, Superior" rating from BauerFinancial, Inc. for over 20 years. Furthermore, Newsweek named First Federal the "Best Small Bank in Florida" for four consecutive years from 2020 to 2023 and "Best Regional Bank" for 2024. To learn more, visit the website at www.ffbf.com.

About Watson Mortgage Corp.

Established in 1994, Watson Mortgage Corp. has been a trusted partner in helping customers achieve their dream of homeownership for over 30 years. Our mission is centered on providing a legendary quality of service that leads to customer satisfaction and lasting relationships. Each member of our team is dedicated to prioritizing your needs and keeping you informed every step of the way, from the initial home loan inquiry to closing day, ensuring an exceptional home loan experience. We are committed to serving our communities as the leading lender of choice. Our vision is focused on exceeding customer expectations throughout the entire home loan process, delivering legendary quality of service to all customers and business partners. We are honored to play a role in delivering the keys to the people we serve, making homeownership dreams a reality.

SOURCE First Federal Bank

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