out a wholesale lending division. In the last three months, the Irwindale, Calif., thrift has started buying loans from 75 mortgage brokers in California. Home Savings has purchased $35 million to $40 million of these loans so far. The thrift is gearing up to do business with an estimated 800 brokers around the country by the end of 1996, according to Peter J. Levasseur, senior vice president and director of wholesale lending. The push is part of a broader effort by Home Savings - the nation's largest thrift - to boost loan production and become a bigger player in the fixed-rate loan market, Mr. Levasseur said. "If you look at the top 15 lenders in the country, Home Savings is one of them," Mr. Levasseur said. "But we're probably the only one that does not have a wholesale distribution channel. It's important for our long-term production goals to add wholesale as well as other possible channels." So far the thrift, whose parent company is H.F. Ahmanson & Co., has relied on making loans through its branches and loan offices in California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and the Northwest. Wholesale lending will make Home Savings "a more fully national lender," Mr. Levasseur said. It will give the thrift access to loans it would never have seen through its retail network. So how does Home Savings compete with established wholesale lenders like Countrywide Credit Industries? Mr. Levasseur said the key is to have a wide range of products, competitive prices, and fast service. "We think we price competitively with Countrywide," he said. "We think we have a product line that is as broad as Countrywide's. Given those two things, we think that we can compete on service and provide the brokers better service," he said. In setting up its wholesale network, Mr. Levasseur said Home Savings is paying close attention to recruiting brokers with reputations for making good loans and strong experience in underwriting and processing loans. The thrift plans to closely monitor the loans it receives from brokers to make sure the offerings are high quality. Before loans are funded, the borrower's employment and the value of the home will be verified, Mr. Levasseur said. After funding, loans will be randomly selected for close scrutiny. Home Savings will double-check information about the borrower and property, as well as redo the credit approval, Mr. Levasseur said.
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