In the third quarter of 2013, the Company continued to achieve loan growth, with its core loan portfolio increasing $27.5 million organically on a linked-quarter basis and advancing $123.7 million overall compared with the year-earlier quarter. For the third quarter of 2013, the Company's loan portfolio, including FDIC-acquired loans, totaled $789.1 million, increasing $19.2 million on a linked-quarter basis from $769.9 million and from $634.9 million compared with the year-earlier quarter. The organic loan growth for the linked quarter was primarily driven by growth in Statesboro, Albany, Valdosta, and Macon, Georgia and Auburn, Alabama markets. For the third quarter of 2013, the Company's loans held for sale totaled $38.0 million, decreasing $5.5 million, or 13%, on a linked-quarter basis from $43.5 million, but significantly increased $30.8 million, or 81%, from $7.2 million compared with the year-earlier quarter. Total deposits stood at $1.052 billion at the end of the third quarter of 2013, down 1% from $1.065 billion on a linked-quarter basis, but up 25% from $845.1 million at September 30, 2012.
Non-interest income for the third quarter of 2013 decreased 19% to $3.9 million from $4.8 million in the year-earlier quarter, primarily driven by a decline in the gain on sale of securities of $1.5 million and an increase in negative accretion for the FDIC loss-share receivable of $377,000, partially offset by increases in service charges on deposit accounts of $292,000 and mortgage banking fees of $264,000. Non-interest expense for the third quarter of 2013 increased 23% to $15.3 million from $12.5 million in the year-earlier quarter, primarily driven by increased salaries and employee benefits of $1.7 million associated with the hiring of employees from the Frontier acquisition and for the mortgage division. The increased equipment and occupancy expense of $615,000 related to the Company's continued efforts to expand the mortgage division and the Frontier acquisition. The increased acquisition-related expense resulted from final expenses associated to the conversion of the Frontier operating system.