Thriving in home loans is a tall order these days, but executives at Discover Financial Services sought to make the case Friday why the timing is right for their purchase of Tree.com Inc.'s mortgage origination unit.

Discover, of Riverwoods, Ill., badly wants to expand beyond credit card loans. Though mortgage lending has contracted and regulators are on red alert after servicing and other scandals, Discover is an experienced direct-to-consumer marketer that can expand the Home Loan Center unit and make broad use of it, executives said.

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