Last year 2,653 multifamily lenders originated $110.1 billion in mortgages for apartment buildings with five or more units, according to a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The dollar volume in 2011 is 60% above 2010 levels and more than double the amount in 2009. Seventy-two percent of the active lenders made five or fewer multifamily loans last year, the association found.

“The growth is a testament to the improvements in both the underlying multifamily property markets and the broader capital markets,” Jamie Woodwell, MBA’s vice president of Commercial Real Estate Research, said.

However, interest in the multifamily segment may be cooling just as fast as it heated up in the wake of the single-family housing crisis, according to new data from commercial real estate data firm Reis, which cites a shrinking third-quarter apartment absorption rate.

The top five multifamily lenders in 2011, the MBA says, measured by total dollar volume, were Wells Fargo (WFC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), CBRE Capital Markets, PNC Real Estate (PNC), and Berkadia.

jhilley@housingwire.come