Bank of America was named the nation's top retail mortgage originator for the first nine months of 2007, as well as during the third quarter of 2007, according to a recent survey published by Inside Mortgage Finance. According to a press statement released by the bank, it originated $119 billion in mortgage and home equity loans through the retail channel for the first nine months of 2007, ahead of both Wells Fargo and Countrywide. Countrywide only recently began focusing on retail originations this year, after continuing problems in the mortgage market forced it to abandon other origination channels. "Several years ago we moved forward with a strategy that leveraged the size and scale of the Bank of America retail franchise to provide our customers with innovative products," said Floyd Robinson, president of the bank's Consumer Real Estate and Insurance Services Group. Bank of America's overall first mortgage funded production increased 27 percent in the third quarter of 2007 when compared with the same period last year. Driving that overall increase was a 60 percent spike in funded mortgage originations through banking centers and a 26 percent increase in funded originations by mortgage loan officers. Retail mortgage results do not include mortgage originations by independent mortgage brokers. Bank of America announced last month that it would exit the wholesale mortgage business effective Jan. 1. Contributing to the bank's emergence as the top retail mortgage originator was the April national introduction of No Fee Mortgage PLUS, billed by BofA as "the first and only true no-fee product offered by any major lender." Bank officials said they received more than $50 billion in applications under the loan program in the first three quarters of 2007.