Ideal Mortgage Bankers Ltd., a Melville, N.Y., company that does business as Lend America, is returning to the wholesale channel, where competition is now scarce.

The company said Thursday that it hopes to accept its first brokered loan this month.

"We think there's an opportunity now to revisit the wholesale market," said Michael Ashley, Lend America's chief business strategist. "There's a huge hole in the wholesale market. Mortgage brokers that are an unacceptable risk at this point have pretty much weeded themselves out." In August of last year the company shut down a wholesale business that used the Ideal Mortgage handle. This time it plans to fund loans under the Lend America name.

Ashley said the new wholesale channel would have a traditional compensation model, but centralized operations rather than account executives in the field as in the past.

It also plans to have a dedicated due diligence team focused on maintaining quality.

"We don't want to have loans that are not investment quality," Ashley said. "We're going to 100% control risk."

Traditionally a relatively low-cost channel, wholesale fits with Lend America's direct-to-consumer approach, which uses mock-newscast infomercials and an 800 number rather than branches to market its loans.

The company was early in moving toward Federal Housing Administration products.

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