One in five home purchase loans made in 2005 by Cleveland's top mortgage lender are already in foreclosure, according to an investigation by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Three years after entering the Cleveland market and becoming the city's top mortgage lender, California-based Argent Mortgage Co. is under fire from critics who allege the company's lax lending practices are one reason the city has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation. Ironically, the investigation found that an anti-predatory-lending law passed by the Cleveland City Council in 2002 likely opened the door for Argent, because some lenders stopped doing business in the city. Argent entered the Cleveland market in 2003, and within a year had captured 22 percent of the city's mortgage business, the Plain Dealer reported. In 2004, Argent made twice as many home loans as former market leaders Charter One Bank and Third Federal Savings & Loan combined. Although the Plain Dealer said other subprime lenders hav...
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