First California Mortgage (FCM) of Petaluma said it began originating loans under a new Fannie Mae warehouse pilot program last week — 90% of it coming from loan brokers.

Over the past two years several warehouse lenders have trimmed their menus to limit the financing of mortgages sourced through loan brokers.

The commitment is for $50 million, which will allow the privately hold nonbank to fund an additional 5,000 mortgages this year. The lender is Natty Mac.

Christopher Hart, president of FCM, said his firm continues to use the wholesale channel even though other firms have exited the sector.

"There's hope out there for brokers," he told National Mortgage News. "We don't like just any broker. We like the 'right' broker."

In 2009 FCM, a nonbank, originated $1.1 billion, which is about what it funded the year before. It currently has three warehouse providers. Its product menu includes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, including what he called "conforming jumbos."

Under the pilot program with Fannie, the GSE commits to buying the loans in a shorter time frame, which means they stay on the Natty Mac warehouse line for a shorter period of time. Freddie has a similar program.

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