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Wells Claims 'Biggest Home Equity Lender' Title 4th Time

4th quarter production $69 billion

January 19, 2005

By MortgageDaily.com staff

Fundings for the year were down at Wells Fargo & Co. as a result of diminished refinance activity. But interest in ARMS and home equity loans accounted for an increase in quarterly production.

The San Francisco-based lender announced fourth quarter volume of $69 billion rose $1 billion from the previous quarter.

Full-year 2004 fundings of $298 billion sank from $470 billion from a year earlier, Wells said, as "the refinance driven market declined from its exceptional 2003 level."

Most of the fourth quarter's volume, or 43%, came from retail originations, and about 41% came from correspondent/wholesale fundings.

ARMs and home equity loans fueled an increase in consumer lending from the prior quarter and the fourth quarter of 2003, the mortgage banking giant said. The company noted in the announcement it was "ranked #1 nationally in home equity loan market share for the fourth consecutive year."

Wells said its pipeline of applications fell $5 billion from the third quarter to $50 billion.

The size of the bank's owned servicing portfolio grew 13% from the prior year to end 2005 at $805 billion, according to the announcement. "We saw very strong loan growth with the first mortgage portfolio up 5 percent to $87.7 billion and the second mortgage portfolio up 42 percent to $52.2 billion," said Wells executive Mark Oman.

The bank's net income in 2004 -- a record $7 billion -- was up 13% from the previous year. "Earnings growth was broad based across our businesses led by strong growth in consumer lending, deposits, asset management, commercial lending and consumer finance, and solid results from [Wells Fargo] Home Mortgage," said company executive Howard Atkins in the announcement.

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