MetLife, Inc. (MET), the largest U.S. life insurer and major mortgage market player, posted a first quarter income rise of 3.1%, as profit and revenue increased almost a quarter. The New York-based bank earned $830 million, or 78 cents a share, up from $805 million, or 97 cents a share, a year earlier, despite a reduced involvement in the mortgage market. Income spiked 21.1% in the three months ended March 31, up to $1.01 billion from $834 million in 2010. MetLife reported a total 1.1 billion common shares outstanding at the end of the period. Revenue too grew, up 22.4% to $15.82 billion from nearly $13 billion. Real estate assets including joint venture real estate on MetLife's balance sheet estimated $8 billion in the first quarter, up from $6.9 billion the year-ago period. About $5.61 billion was attributable to traditional investment, $2.27 billion to joint ventures and $165 million to foreclosed real estate. Total mortgage loans outstanding were $55.06 billion at the end of the first quarter, MetLife said. Commercial mortgages made up the biggest chunk at $38.09 billion, followed by agricultural mortgages ($12.76 billion) and residential mortgages ($2.4 billion). Residential mortgage lending increased 61% between the first quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011. MetLife reported holding $59.40 billion worth of mortgages for investment during the period, up from $55.35 billion a year earlier. The bank also held $2.44 billion for sale. As of March 31, the MetLife residential mortgage-backed securities portfolio sat a $45.01 billion, while the company's commercial mortgage-backed securities portfolio totaled $19.8 billion. RMBS and CMBS comprise 13.5% and 5.9% of MetLife's securities portfolio, respectively. The company held total assets of $751.3 billion. In 2010 MetLife Home Loans originated $22 billion in mortgages,, down 37% from 2009. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.