Craig Blunden started Provident Financial Holdings' mortgage shop in 1987, and has witnessed a lot of cycles. The "craziest" time, not surprisingly, came in the mid-00s. Real estate in California's Inland Empire was white hot, and lenders willingly tossed fuel on the fire.
"Stated-income loans were big here; option ARMs were big. You had four hairdressers pooling their money to buy a house and flip it," recalls Blunden, now Riverside, Calif.-based Provident's CEO. "We had to participate in those things to compete. If we didn't do it, we would have needed to lock up our doors."