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BofA Bucks Trend, Lifts Quarterly Home Lending

With several of its early-reporting peers claiming quarter-over-quarter declines in new home lending activity, Bank of America Corp. bucked the trend with a slight gain.

For the three months ended Dec. 31 last year, BofA closed $17.037 billion in residential loans.

The numbers, in addition to other operational and financial data, were included in the Charlotte, North Carolina-based organization’s fourth-quarter earnings report.

New mortgage business inched ahead of the prior period, when originations were at a upwardly adjusted $16.852 billion. That was in contrast to activity at Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., US Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co. — all of which reported a decline in mortgage lending between the third and fourth quarters.

BofA also saw lending volume gains on a year-over-year basis — with just 41,000 loans for $15.036 billion originated in the fourth-quarter 2014.

During all 12 months last year, $69.990 billion in new home loans were funded.

Annual production moved up from the 163,500 loans closed for a downwardly revised $52.866 billion during 2014.

The fourth-quarter 2015 mortgage production gain came from home-equity loans originated at $3.494 billion — an increase over the $3.140 billion funded in the prior period.

First mortgages closed at $13.543 billion made up the rest of the recent home loan production total. This category actually decreased from a downwardly adjusted third-quarter lending volume of $13.712 billion.

In mortgage servicing, the lender’s total portfolio thinned to $565 billion as of Dec. 31, 2015, from $580 billion as of Sept. 30 and $693 billion as of the December-end balance in 2014.

The mortgage servicing portfolio included residential home loans, HELs and home-equity lines of credit.

At the end of last year, the serviced-for-investors portion of the servicing portfolio came to $378 billion. This amount declined from $391 billion as of Sept. 30 and $474 billion as of Dec. 31, 2014.

The banking institution claimed $263.859 billion in residential assets — a slightly leaner balance than the $265.969 billion accounted for at the end of September. The mortgage investment portfolio also thinned from $301.922 billion as of the final day in 2014.

Residential mortgages at $187.911 billion and HELs at $75.948 comprised the most-recent mortgage asset total on the balance sheet.

The lender said the number of first mortgages with a 60-day or more loan delinquency was down 46 percent from the prior quarter.

Also on the balance sheet, commercial real estate assets increased to $57.199 billion from $55.629 billion as of Sept. 30 and $47.682 billion as of the same point last year.

Within the consumer banking division, income before income taxes was bumped up to $2.795 billion from a downwardly adjusted $2.749 billion in the third quarter. The most-recent quarterly earnings also improved over the $2.687 billion earned a year earlier.

At the holding-company level, BofA earned $4.8 billion before income taxes. Income did decline from a downwardly adjusted third-quarter total of $5.8 billion, but earnings were just over half a billion dollars better than reported for the fourth-quarter 2014.

Legacy assets and servicing staff slipped to 11,200 at the end of the year from 12,300 at the end of the third quarter. Employee count also was well below the 17,100 employees accounted for as of Dec. 31 a year prior.

Company-wide, staffing was at 213,280 full-time equivalent employees at the end of last year. This number was 1,913 employees shy of the Sept. 30 headcount and 10,435 workers fewer than the year-end count in 2014.

As of Dec. 31 last year, BofA claimed 4,726 U.S. financial centers. The bank’s physical footprint was 15 financial centers short of Sept. 30 inventory.

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