While dozens of mortgage companies have closed due to soaring defaults of home loans made to borrowers with weak, or subprime, credit, those problems previously had occurred among non-bank lenders such as New Century Financial Corp. NetBank, in contrast, is federally regulated.
Loose mortgage standards in recent years - especially among lenders catering to subprime borrowers - have resulted in a spike in home loan defaults.
Bert Ely, a banking consultant based in Alexandria, Va., said NetBank was in "deep trouble" before the subprime mortgage market's woes accelerated this year. Regulators, he said, "should have closed it a long time ago."
While some Internet-only banks are successful, he said, operating one without retail branches can be a difficult strategy to maintain.