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Online Platform Drives Wholesaler's Expansion

MILA opening 6 new offices

August 28, 2006

By COCO SALAZAR


photo of Coco Salazar

A West Coast-based nonprime wholesaler is expanding east -- hoping to add another 6,000 mortgage brokers in the process.

MILA Inc. has expanded wholesale operations into six new states and is on track for stepping into 15 more in less than a year, as well as being the first to offer the paperless mortgage.

By September, six offices will be open for business in South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, New Mexico and Georgia, the wholesale online lender announced.

Including the addition of Florida in May, MILA has expanded into seven new states since the start of the year, bringing its number of operating states to 33 and keeping it on track to meet its goal of reaching all the lower 48 states by spring 2007. Only Hawaii and Alaska are not being aggressively pursued due to "unique challenges" in those states, spokeswoman Heidi Happonen told MortgageDaily.com.

MILA began its expansion in the Southeast "because of the overall growth taking place in the area," she added. The Northeast, "by contrast, is actually experiencing a population decline."

With the six new states, the network of more than 40,000 brokers MILA currently does business with could grow by another 6,000, based on the results of other recently opened markets. In Florida, for example, 200 companies signed on with MILA since June, which on the low end, translates to about 1,000 brokers, Happonen said.

MILA said it set its sights on a national expansion after moving loan originations exclusively online through its proprietary decisioning and loan management system, AccessPoint, in 2001. Since then, MILA has grown more than 800 percent. Plus, moving into new states and broadening its mix of products has given MILA an opportunity for continued prosperity adding valuable market share.

The Mountlake Terrace, Wash.-based lender added Alt-A products -- which account for 45 percent of its loans -- to its menu this year and will introduce its first prime products, "making the lender the only one in the nation capable of offering all manner of loans through a single decisioning engine," according to the announcement.

"We're on the cusp on an exciting era in the mortgage industry," said CEO and founder Layne Sapp in the announcement. "The recent boom has allowed for a lot of growth and investment in technology that will ultimately transform the home buying process for brokers and their borrowers. We are closer than ever to a truly paperless loan and MILA aims to be the first to offer it throughout the continental U.S."

MILA, which has about 500 employees, funded $4.5 billion in 2005 and believes the combination of expanding physically and product-wise gears it toward sustaining current volume in a declining market in the short-term, according to Happonen.


Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.

e-mail: [email protected]


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