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Wells Retakes Lead

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Wells Fargo & Co. saw residential originations decline this past quarter. But the decrease was less than at Bank of America Corp. — likely leaving Wells Fargo as the biggest residential lender. An uptick in new loan applications suggests volume might increase this quarter.

Fourth-quarter home-loan production was $94 billion, according to earnings data released today by the San Francisco-based institution. Business declined from the third quarter’s $96 billion but was much better than the fourth-quarter 2008’s $50 billion.

At rival BoA, volume declined to $89.4 billion from $98.4 billion in the third quarter — when it stole the top spot from Wells Fargo.

Retail originations accounted for $51 billion of fourth-quarter activity at Wells, while third-party production represented $42 billion.

During all of last year, Wells Fargo originated $420 billion, leaping from 2008’s $230 billion.

Loan applications jumped to $144 billion from $123 billion in the third quarter — suggesting an increase in first-quarter 2010 production.

The residential servicing portfolio increased to $1.796 trillion from $1.795 trillion at the end of the third quarter and $1.781 trillion at the end of 2008. The Dec. 31, 2009, total included $1.422 trillion in loans serviced for others, $0.364 trillion in owned loans serviced and $0.010 trillion in sub-servicing.

One- to four-unit loans on the balance sheet were $229.5 billion as of Dec. 31, 2009, lower than $232.6 billion on Sept. 30, 2009, and $247.9 billion a year earlier.

Junior-lien holdings declined to $103.7 billion from $104.5 billion the prior quarter and $110.2 billion the prior year.

HEL delinquency of at least 60 days on the core portfolio climbed to 3.35 percent from 3.13 percent on Sept. 30, 2009. Delinquency on the liquidating HEL portfolio climbed to 6.74 percent from 6.51 percent.

The commercial mortgage servicing portfolio eased to $0.569 trillion from $0.571 trillion at the end of the third quarter and $0.586 trillion a year earlier. The most recent figure included $0.454 trillion in commercial mortgages serviced for investors, $0.105 trillion in owned loans and $0.010 trillion in sub-servicing.

Commercial mortgages outstanding finished last month at $104.8 billion, higher than $103.4 billion three months earlier. Commercial real estate construction loans fell to $29.7 billion from $31.7 billion.

Mortgage banking income came in at $3.4 billion, inching up from the third quarter’s $3.1 billion and much better than the $0.2 billion loss in the fourth-quarter 2008.

Company-wide after-tax net income declined to $2.8 billion from the third-quarter’s $3.2 billion but improved from the fourth-quarter 2008’s $2.7 billion loss. Full-year income was $12.3 billion.

Headcount finished the year at 267,300, higher than 265,100 three months prior.

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