The dust is settling from the housing crisis and mortgage lenders are easing back into lending. And now the amount of loans falling into foreclosure is dwindling, turning the spotlight back to mortgage originations.
During the stormy financial crisis, banks that were not up to standard were filtered out of the market. Since then, other banks have decided to pull back or even out of the industry altogether.
In a conference call for Citigroup [stock C] [/stock] regarding its first-quarter earnings, Michael Corbat, chief executive officer, and John Gerspach, chief financial officer, discussed and reviewed the bank’s financial standpoint.
Adding to the banks choosing to pull back from mortgages, Gerspach said, “Mortgage for us is not a big business. We’re very focused on executing on the mortgages for our retail banking customers. So as we’ve looked at a lot of the mortgage originations so far, it’s really been more heavily weighted towards our branch business than anything else.”
Citigroup’s allowance for loan losses stood at $23.7 billion in the first quarter – or roughly 3.7% of its total loan book. That is down from $29 billion, or 4.5% of all loans, during the same period a year ago, according to the company’s earnings.
The mega bank did note in its earnings that mortgage banking volumes have remained strong even though margins declined compared to year earlier levels.
Regardless, a Citi representative said during the call, “We are not looking to significantly grow our share in mortgages other than through our existing retail banking base.”