Lending

Wells Fargo to expand GSE-free mortgage lending

Wells Fargo (WFC) finalized a new division built to originate mortgages outside of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines.

The bank promoted Brad Blackwell, formerly a sales manager in charge of West Coast operations, to lead the new business. He will work with Wells Fargo community banks, wealth brokerages and retirement groups, and the non-agency, jumbo and home equity loans will be kept on the Wells portfolio.

Blackwell will report to Mike Heid, the president of the Wells mortgage department.

"The market has changed and we are adapting with it to add more horsepower to help homeowners and homebuyers succeed financially," Blackwell said in a statement.

The government continues to finance 95% of the mortgage market after credit froze during the crisis in 2007.

A Wells spokeswoman said the non-agency loans could potentially securitized in private-label bonds in the future, but there are no plans to "at this point." The bank did not project how many new loans the new division plans to write.

Greg Gwizdz, formerly an East Coast sales manager, will lead the national consumer lending team. It will continue its traditional retail lending business.

Wells remains the nation's largest mortgage lender. It originated $357 billion in new mortgages in 2011 more than double the $157 billion Bank of America (BAC) wrote as the next largest lender.

jprior@housingwire.com

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