Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has created a new joint venture to market home loans to Hispanic borrowers, which will employ bilingual loan consultants and provide “a culturally sensitive home financing experience tailored to their needs,” the company said.

The new company, ILUMINA Mortgage LLC, is a joint venture with the Hispanic National Mortgage Association. ILUMINA has begun hiring experienced bilingual and bicultural loan consultants in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, and will open its first branch this month in Fontana, followed by offices in Riverside and Phoenix.

Leonardo Simpser, managing director of HNMA, said ILUMINA is the result of months of research, planning and development. ILUMINA’s customers will have access to flexible mortgage programs at competitive rates, he said, and the company plans to “raise the bar when it comes to providing services for this underserved market.”

According to a recent study of government loan data, immigration and lower home-ownership rates among Hispanics and African Americans make minority buyers the fastest-growing segment of new home-purchase mortgages.

The study, prepared by ComplianceTech for Genworth Mortgage Insurance, found the percentage increase in home loans taken out by minorities in high-volume areas was three times greater than for white households. In 320 of 388 metro areas analyzed, growth in minority borrowing outstripped growth in white borrowing.

Blacks and Hispanics are also more likely than whites to take out higher-cost loans, according to another analysis of loan data collected by the Federal Reserve. A Fed report on 15.6 million loans granted by 8,850 lenders showed 54.7 percent of African-American borrowers took out higher-cost loans in 2005, compared with 46.1 percent of Hispanics, 17.2 percent of whites, and 16.6 percent of Asians.

Wells Fargo says ILUMINA’s customers will have access to the lender’s “full product platform.” The ILUMINA Web site offers fixed-rate mortgages and FHA-backed loans, as well as 5/1 and 10/1 adjustable-rate mortgages, 100 percent financing loans, and a “No Money Down Plus” mortgage that finances the home purchase, down payment and closing costs up to a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 103 percent.

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