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Nova Home Loans opens local branch

Nova Home Loans, one of the biggest residential mortgage lenders in Arizona, is breaking into the Nevada market.

The private company, which reported $1.4 billion in mortgage originations last year, has opened a branch in Henderson with 15 employees, Chief Operating Officer Lance Dickson said.

Dickson said the company intends to double the staff to 30 by year’s end.

Nova Financial & Investment Corp., the parent company of Nova Home Loans, ranked second last year in Arizona in federal home loan originations, behind top-ranked Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a mortgage industry publisher.

Nova made $464 million Federal Housing Administration home loans last year in Arizona. Nova is also licensed to make residential loans in 17 other states although it lacks branches in many of the states.

The last few years have been devastating to mortgage brokers in Nevada, but Nova believes the worst of times may be the best of times to grow. The company said it can fill the niche of making loans to borrowers who come close but fail to qualify for loans from other lenders.

“We really looked at Vegas as an exciting market,” Dickson said.

Nova intends to expand its market share in Nevada until the market stabilizes and then be ready to benefit from the rebound in housing, Dickson said.

Residential mortgage lending has slumped in recent years in Nevada since the housing bubble burst and the state found itself with a massive inventory of vacant, foreclosed houses.

So Nova Home Loans is using the downturn to sign up some of the best residential mortgage brokers in the state, he said.

All but some of the strongest mortgage brokers already have left the business in recent years.

The Mortgage Lending Division counted 1,099 licensed mortgage brokers and 294 mortgage bankers in Nevada in February 2007 about the time the real estate market started to crack. (Mortgage bankers typically use their own money to temporarily fund loans later sold to third parties, while brokers arrange loans for lenders and provide no temporary funding.)

By end of May, the broker count had plunged to 181 and the banker count had slid to 86, according to the state mortgage division.

The company offers loans to a wide variety of residential borrowers, including “everything from superjumbo home loans all the way down to the first-time homebuyer,” Dickson said.

About 75 percent of the loans Nova originates are for purchases, but the company also makes loans for refinancing houses, he said. Through the FHA, Nova provides Section 203(k) loans that enable homebuyers to purchase damaged houses and finance repairs for them.

Ray Desmond is the company president and founder; Jon Volpe is chief executive officer. Dickson and the other two executives own the company.

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