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LendingTree Model Stressed

$3.5 billion Q3 closings

October 30, 2008

By MortgageDaily.com staff

Fresh off an initial public offering, LendingTree LLC's parent said its business model is strained as business is limited to only conforming conventional loans or mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

Third-quarter closings were 23,500 units for $3.5 billion, earnings data from the mortgage lead generator's parent Tree.com Inc. indicated. Volume was down from 46,900 units for $5.7 billion during the third-quarter 2007.

Tree.com was spunoff from IAC in August, when it began trading publicly on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol TREE.

Loans held-for-sale as of Sept. 30 were $66 million. With a warehouse line-of-credit outstanding of $57 million, the haircut was around 14 percent including any loans that are not financed.

Earnings from the origination and sale of loans were $17.9 million, off from $22.4 million a year earlier. Match fees dropped to $12.1 million from $19.1 million, while close fees were $8.2 million, tumbling from $15.6 million.

On a company-wide basis, the Charlotte, N.C.-based company had a $23 million third-quarter loss, up from a $6 million loss a year earlier.

"The tight credit markets have limited the types of loans we are able to originate to predominantly conforming and FHA loans and made it more difficult to match potential borrowers to lenders' products through our exchanges," the report said. "Consumer demand has waned due to the volatile interest rate environment, deteriorating housing values and an uncertain economic outlook."

Chief Financial Officer Matt Packey said that given the current market, he was pleased with a $22 million decrease in operating expenses and a 39 percent improvement in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

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