JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is attempting to grow its mortgage market share to offset recent revenue declines in its mortgage business as fewer Americans refinance, an article in Reuters said. The plan? Buy more mortgages.
However, according to JPMorgan’s competitor, Bank of America (BAC), the move is too risky.
"There's more risk in being that far away from the customer," said D. Steve Boland, the Bank of America executive in charge of mortgage and auto lending. For example, a smaller lender could fail to verify a borrower's income properly, and just sell the loan on to a bigger bank.
Meanwhile, JPMorgan is growing in that department.
In the first half of 2015, the bank bought 62% of the $58 billion in home loans it added to its books, compared with 56% in 2014 and 37 percent in 2011.
While other big banks buy mortgages from other lenders, known as correspondents, JPMorgan has racked up the biggest increase among its peers in the proportion of loans it buys from others, according to data from trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance. JPMorgan is fighting for business in what has been a shrinking market.
This move from JPMorgan comes during a time that a lot of the big banks are more hesitant to lend.
Shrewsberry made the statement in light of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s revision to its previously announced proposal to change the Federal Housing Administration loan level and lender certifications that each lender must adhere to in order to receive federal insurance on mortgages.
Although, the announcement did also sparked a similar response from JPMorgan.
Kevin Watters, CEO of Chase Mortgage Banking, said in an interview with CNBC that FHA loan requirements look an awful lot like subprime lending.
"FHA requirements are down to a 520 FICO (credit score) and you only have to put 3.5% down; that's subprime lending, and we're not in the subprime lending business," CNBC quotes Watters saying.
As far as the risk involved in the lender’s decision to grow its correspondent lending business, JPMorgan said in the Reuters article that it specifies exactly what correspondent lenders have to do to vet loans. It also forces the smaller lenders to buy back loans that turn out to have fallen short of those requirements.
Greg Beliles, correspondent lending head at JPMorgan, wrote through a spokeswoman that the bank works with "experienced, well managed and high quality" lenders. Bank of America's concerns may stem from its experience with Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America bought in 2008, the largest correspondent lender in the U.S. at the time.
But this news should come as no surprise. In an interview with HousingWire Magazine in March 2013, Watters said that JPMorgan wanted to grow.
"We’re going to continue to grow our mortgage business. We’re growing our retail franchise, we’re going to continue to add bankers there. We’re growing our correspondent business. We think it’s a business we’re going to continue to invest in over the future. We’re going to do it smart, and we’re going to react to the market," he said.