Freedom Eyeing Irwin, But Not Its Servicing?

Freedom Mortgage, a moderately sized lender based in suburban New Jersey, is expected to win the bid for Irwin Mortgage Corp., Fishers, Ind., but likely won't get its $20 billion servicing portfolio, sources told Mortgage Servicing News. A source familiar with the deal indicated, however, that Freedom might acquire Irwin's servicing platform.

It is unclear at this point which bidder will get the portfolio, which includes 156,000 loans. Among residential servicers, Irwin Mortgage ranks 36th nationwide, according to figures compiled by MSN and the Quarterly Data Report. At press time, officials at both Freedom and Irwin could not be reached for comment.

IMC is a subsidiary of Irwin Financial Corp., Columbus, Ohio, a commercial bank. Little is known about Freedom, which is based in Mount Laurel, N.J., and was founded in 1990. According to the company's 2004 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act filing with the Federal Reserve, Freedom Mortgage funded $758 million in loans that year. (HMDA results for 2005 will be released in mid-August.) It's believed that Classic Strategies Group LLC, New York, is advising Freedom. Classic Strategies declined to comment.

Irwin has been trying to sell its mortgage division since January.

In February, reports began to surface that subprime giant New Century Financial Corp., Irvine, Calif., might buy IMC, but the talks fell through.

Even though Irwin is selling its "A" paper mortgage affiliate, the company is keeping its home-equity division. About 90% of Irwin's production is sourced through loan brokers or correspondents. The mortgage division has 47 offices in 26 states.

Over the past few months - thanks to a slowdown in production and declining profit margins - several mortgage banking firms have changed hands, including Aames Financial, Los Angeles; Golden West Financial, Oakland; Waterfield Mortgage, Fort Wayne, Ind., and others.

IRWIN MORTGAGE CORP. -- Servicing Statistics at a Glance

Parent: Irwin Financial Corp.

Headquarters: Fishers, Ind.

Housing receivables: $ 20.35 billion

# of loans serviced: 156,186

Servicing rank: 36

30+ day delinquency rate: 2.29%

Servicing growth rate: -35%

SOURCE: MSN/Quarterly Data Report.

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