MetLife Continues to Win Big in Wells Fargo’s Exit Wake

The month of December wasn’t exactly the most magical time of the year for reverse mortgage originators, as the year’s endorsement volume finished on a modest down note, says the most recent HECM lenders report from Reverse Market Insight. Despite the small decline overall, MetLife (NYSE:MET) finished 2011 strong with endorsements at season-highs in the last two months.

Home equity conversion mortgage endorsements decreased 0.4% from November to 4,636, according to RMI data, and although active lenders increased 4.4%, it’s still a low level of competition since stabilizing earlier this year, the newsletter says.

“We’ve been saying that fewer competitors yields benefits for surviving lenders for at least a year, and Metlife provided a poignant demonstration of this effect,” says RMI. “The company’s November and December totals were its two highest endorsement figures of the year, with each month higher than the low months for Wells Fargo before their exit announcement in June.”

Wells Fargo for its part saw what’s likely to be one last upswing in endorsement volume with 70 loans, up from 24 in November.

Along with Wells Fargo and MetLife, One Reverse Mortgage LLC, Urban Financial, and Security One also saw their endorsements increase from November, although volume for Generation Mortgage, Genworth Financial, and American Advisors Group was down by an average of 53 loans.

Regionally, half of the regions tracked by RMI saw higher volume, including Southeast/Caribbean and Pacific/Hawaii, although national volume fell 5.6%.

Although the exits of the two biggest reverse mortgage lenders dealt a blow to the industry, a majority of top lenders appear to have surged in both their endorsement volume and market share in 2011, according to RMI’s report.

Besides Wells and Bank of America, seven out of the top ten reverse mortgage lenders saw volume significantly increase in 2011 compared to the previous year, with AAG, MetLife, and Generation Mortgage seeing triple-digit gains. In terms of market share, AAG saw an increase of 192%, trailed slightly by MetLife’s 187%, with Generation posting a 130% gain.

With two dominant banks fading out of the picture, the remaining top lenders stand to continue gaining steam—including market share and volume—in 2012.

View the HECM Lenders newsletter here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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