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FHA Mortgage Focus Fuels Lend America's Rise

The changing landscape in mortgage banking is propelling fast-growth for lenders that specialize in originating mortgages endorsed by the Federal Housing Administration; Melville, New York-based Lend America is a perfect example of what may be the new reality in mortgage lending. The company, one of the nation's largest direct-to-consumer FHA lenders, said Monday morning that that it had moved its headquarters to a new 60,000-square-foot facility -- in a unique twist of irony and symbolism, the new digs are those that once housed the origination and processing operations for the now-bankrupt American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. American Home, which went bankrupt in August of last year, once employed more than 7,000 and focused on non-conforming, private-party mortgage originations. The company's substantial servicing platform was sold to billionaire investor Wilbur Ross in bankruptcy, who has since also acquired the servicing portfolio of former subprime giant Option One Mortgage Company. But that was then; FHA lending is what's hot now. "Over 28 months ago, Lend America adjusted its business model to originating primarily FHA loans," said Michael Ashley, chief business stategist at Lend America. It's a strategy that has clearly paid off in spades, with the company increasing production volume over 250 percent through the first half of 2008, according to Ashley's estimates. The emergence of Lend America has caught the eye of locals, as well. "Amid a mortgage lending crisis and a struggling economy, Lend America has become a key Suffolk County employer, and the expansions of its operations in Melville is a win-win situation for both the Company and the County," said Wayne Horsely, Suffolk Country legislator. The company has hired over 100 new employees in 2008, and said in a press statement that it expects to hire more shortly. Lend America currently operates in 36 states, including recent approvals in Arizona, Delaware and Vermont; the company received approval to issue Ginnie Mae MBS in June. For more information, visit http://www.lendamerica.com.

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