The newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance has come out with its annual ranking of the top mortgage lenders. Countrywide Financial once again topped the list—for the fourth year in a row. That’s even though its new mortgage originations were down 12% for the year to $408 billion. Since the overall market shrunk 19%, Countrywide’s share climbed to 16.8% from 15.5%.
Some other startling stats in the report. The market share of the top 25 lenders has climbed considerably to 90% of the market, up from 76% in 2003. That’s good news for the survivors.
With Wall Street no longer underwriting reams of subprime and jumbo mortgages, the government-affilated sponsors have had to step in. Mortgages insured by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made up 71% of the business in the fourth quarter, up from a low of 34% as recently as the second quarter of 2006.
A handful of regional banks have managed to step up and provide new loans in this choppy market. Four banks among the top 25 saw loan growth for both the full year and last year’s difficult fourth quarter. They were Virginia’s SunTrust, Minnesota’s US Bank, Michigan’s Flagstar and Ohio’s AmTrust.
Good for them!
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.