In 2006, Wells Fargo ranked as both the nation's number one retail mortgage originator and mortgage servicer for the full year, according to data released recently by competing industry publication Inside Mortgage Finance (ed note: IMF charges nearly $900 per year to subscribe, which is partly why Housing Wire was started). The distinction marks the 15th year in a row that Wells Fargo has claimed the top spot in retail mortgage lending, originating $158.48 billion in loans through its retail channel and earning an industry market share of 14.2 percent. In addition, Wells Fargo grew its servicing portfolio to $1.34 trillion and, with the top ranking in this category, now has 13.2 percent of the nation's home mortgage servicing market share, up from 11 percent in 2005. That represents a 12-month increase in portfolio value of $336 billion, or growth of nearly 34 percent. Cara Heiden, division president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, said that the company's rapid growth in recent years is the result of both seizing market opportunities in lending and increasing the number of customers the company services through loan acquisitions. A significant portion of the servicing growth in 2006 came from Wells Fargo's purchase of Washington Mutual's entire portfolio of government mortgage servicing and a portion of its conforming, fixed-rate servicing portfolio, with loans totaling approximately $140 billion and representing approximately 1.3 million servicing customers. "The WaMu servicing acquisition was the largest of its kind undertaken in our industry," said Heiden. "We were confident we could execute well on the transition for these new customers and their accounts, and by all measures did just that. We take our commitment to being viewed as the premier mortgage servicer to heart. We now service loans for more than 7.7 million customers, which provides us with the scale and expertise that gives Wells Fargo a strategic advantage in the industry." Heiden noted that at the end of 2006, Wells Fargo's foreclosure rate on its servicing portfolio compared favorably to other larger mortgage servicers.