Virgin Money says it is stepping into the breach by becoming a wholesale mortgage lender in the U.S. and that 150 brokers have already joined its high-tech network. Announcing the venture today, Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, said, "At a time when others are exiting the mortgage space, leaving consumers with fewer financing options, Virgin Money is jumping in."
Virgin branched very successfully into financial services in the U.K. more than a decade ago, then, six years ago, became a peer-to-peer style lender in the U.S.
Virgin Money USA, which is based in Waltham, Mass., seemed to distance itself from social lending—which has become so legally complicated in the U.S. that some have exited, others temporarily left the business. An FAQ page on its the Virgin USA website introduced its mortgage venture thus: "With roots in social finance (person-to-person lending), we acquired Lendia [Boston] in 2008 We now are a lender and processor of traditional mortgages, as well as intra-family and seller-financed mortgages. And there's more to come."
Asheesh Advani, Virgin Money founder and CEO, said in the statement announcing its expansion into mortgage lending, "Virgin Money sees a growing service gap in the mortgage industry, which we plan to close and own." Virgin Money previously serviced but did not fund loans on its web site.
Virgin Money said its wholesale mortgage offering will feature the best technologies available, allowing for:
- Real-time status updates and rate quotes
- Clear and updated product guidelines
- Ability to import brokers' 1003 directly using their loan origination systems
- Paperless underwriting for all loans
- Ongoing, on-site technology training