The country’s largest mortgage lenders are a picky bunch, their Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data for 2014 show.

It is easy to find the biggest lenders in the LendingPatterns™ database. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to keep a close eye on the big boys (and I do mean boys, as a search for women-owned banks and thrifts comes up with zero records) and so the category “CFPB Lenders” refers to mortgage lenders with $10 billion or more in assets.

The 135 lenders in this category (132 of them actually made mortgages) are big mortgage lenders. They made nearly half a trillion dollars in home loans in 2014 ($490 billion to be exact, or an average of $3.6 billion apiece).

But, since they received a total of more than $1 trillion in mortgage applications, they actually funded less than half of that amount, 47.7 percent to be precise. (Which may make the CFPB happy, actually.)

Of course, they did not deny all of the other 52.3 percent. There are a number of reasons a lender does not approve an application. CFPB lender denials make up only 13.6 percent of all actions taken. The other nearly 40 percent of apps were disposed of in these ways: rejected by applicant, 2.4 percent; withdrawn, 8.2 percent; incomplete, 2.9 percent; purchased, 23 percent; preapproval denied, 1.2 percent; and preapproval rejected, 1 percent.

How does that compare to 2013? LendingPatterns™ data show the two years are almost exactly the same. In 2013 CFPB lenders approved 46.6 percent of application dollars, continuing the tighter credit pattern that has persisted since the mortgage crisis.

The biggest CFPB lenders are not surprising, as they correspond to the familiar biggest mortgage lenders we recognize: Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America.

Wells made $111 billion in mortgages in 2014, for a market share of 23 percent, while Chase did just half of that, $56 billion (11.4 percent), and BofA took the bronze with $43 billion, an 8.7 percent market share.

But just being a big institution doesn’t mean you are a big mortgage lender. At the bottom of the list, Irvine, Calif.-based Bankers Funding Co., a former joint venture of Wells, made just $1.5 million in mortgages.

Nearly 90 percent of big-boy mortgage lending on 2014 was conventional. On the government side, Department of Veterans Affairs loans had a slightly higher percentage than Federal Housing Administration lending.

CPPB lenders did a considerable bit of investor lending, as 12 percent of volume was non-owner occupied. Purchase lending was 55 percent of the total, while refis came in at 41 percent, with the balance in home improvement.

These biggest lenders showed a definite inclination for lending to upper income borrowers, which made up 63 percent of their volumes. Low-, moderate- and middle-income borrowers were only 20 percent combined.

And they kept a lot of loans for their own portfolios, with 55 percent not sold. Of those that were sold to the agencies, Fannie Mae had the biggest market share, at 16 percent.


(Mark Fogarty is a journalist and analyst who has been covering the mortgage industry for more than 30 years.)