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Freedom Mortgage originations grow despite industry pullback

Smaller lenders steal more market share

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Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based Freedom Mortgage, a full-service mortgage lender licensed in all 50 states, funded more than $2 billion in residential mortgages in June 2014, while many of the industry's larger financial firms' originations contract.   

Back in July 2012, the company achieved monthly volume of $1 billion in funded loans for the first time. Roughly half of the $2 billion volume was funded by its Structured Products Group, the company’s correspondent lending division.

“We set out to expand the footprint of our Structured Products Group, and in the past year, that’s exactly what we did,” said Stanley Middleman, CEO of Freedom Mortgage. “The tireless work of the Structured Products Group’s highly professional staff has captured significant market share and increased their volume five-fold. We’re especially proud of the $1 billion funded by this group, because it means we have successfully broadened our reach to help even more homeowners.”

However, as second-quarter earnings continued to be released, origination results are not doing as well among mega banks.

The problem: “These guys continue to lose market share to the smaller guys because the smaller guys are able to take more risk and the bigger guys keep giving cookie cutter mortgages,” Miller said. 

JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) second-quarter mortgage originations came in at $16.8 billion, down 66% from the prior year and 1% from the prior quarter.

And while Wells Fargo's (WFC) second-quarter results were better, executives were less than thrilled about the origination results.  

“The gain-on-sale was at the low end of the range, which is how we thought it would be on investor day. Originations were less than what we originally anticipated. We are glad the results are good, but we might have imagined a little bit more going into the year,” Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf said.

Wells Fargo originations in the second quarter increased 30.6% from $36 billion in the previous quarter to $47 billion, with gain on sale revenue up $116 million.

Street projections for 2014’s origination total were somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.1 to $1.2 trillion, but now FBR Capital Markets is forecasting that originations will only reach $989 billion in 2014.

“We think the next couple quarters could be challenging for mortgage companies,” FBR analysts Paul Miller, Thomas LeTrent and Jessica Levi-Ribner said in an industry update. “In order for the purchase market to experience a true recovery and outpace the decline in refinancings, we believe that banks will need to go down the credit spectrum and lend to lower-FICO borrowers.”

Meanwhile, Freedom Mortgage also successfully launched its in-house servicing operation July 15 and is now servicing  all newly originated loans. 

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