Report: Originations Tumble 21 Percent in Fourth Quarter, Countrywide Still King

Industry headwinds grew into a hurricane as 2007 came to a close, helping push mortgage origination volume down 21 percent in the fourth quarter relative to third quarter production. Inside Mortgage Finance reported Wednesday that industry activity totalled an estimated (and meager) $450 billion in the fourth quarter, off 38 percent from one year earlier. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with FHA, dominated the market: three out of four originations during the quarter were tied to the government lenders. If total production numbers hold up — far from a sure thing, at this point — 2008 originations would come in at $1.8 trillion, below the $1.96 trillion recently forecast by the Mortgage Banker’s Association. Notwithstanding the drop in industry production, the new king for 2007 is the same as the old king — and that would be Bank of America’s bride, Countrywide Financial Corp. IMF reported that a soon-to-be-published ranking of originators placed the the troubled lender with 17 percent of overall industry production for 2007. Wells Fargo, in comparison, posted the largest drop in production of any lender in the top five; Wells ended the year with $272 billion in total originations.

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