Carrington Mortgage Services has opened its fifth retail lending branch in Virginia as part of its effort to originate more loans to borrowers with lower credit scores.

The new Tysons Corner branch will focus on Washington area borrowers, particularly underserved ones "in the sub-640 FICO score range," the company said in a press release.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based residential retail and wholesale lending subsidiary of Carrington Holding Co. has appointed 25-year real estate financing veteran Terry Rowland as branch manager in Tyson's Corner.

"These commitments require strong leadership" at the local level and industry experience, which Rowland brings to the table, said Ray Brousseau, executive vice president of Carrington Mortgage Services' lending division, in the release.

"Carrington remains sharply focused on increasing our capacity" and product offerings in a compliant manner "while maintaining our high standards for loan quality and widening our reach to effectively serve those consumers who most need the specific expertise we can provide," Brousseau added.

An estimated one in three consumers have a FICO credit score below 650, according to industry experts, making it very difficult for them to qualify for a mortgage loan.

According to Carrington's website, its retail lending products include Federal Housing Administration, conventional, jumbo, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Agriculture loans that are available "to borrowers across all ranges of the credit spectrum." However, Carrington says it will "increase its attention and focus" on the underserved by lowering its minimum credit requirement to a FICO score of 550.

Carrington has joined a still small but growing number of lenders willing to take on loan default risk. (The growth may accelerate given recent loosening of putback guidelines by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.) The company has expanded its guidelines "on a number of FHA, VA and USDA loan programs" and property types, and is offering borrowers MyLoanDetail, an online loan review and financial literacy education resource.

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