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Super-low mortgage rates during the coronavirus pandemic spurred a surge of mortgage borrowing. But a banner year for lenders yielded little change in the roster of the nation’s largest mortgage companies.
There was some jockeying for position, however. In the boldest move, Freedom Mortgage jumped into third place, all the way up from 10th place a year ago, underscoring aggressive growth by non-bank lenders.
The 10 largest lenders accounted for nearly a quarter of the market in 2020. These rankings are based on a Bankrate analysis of preliminary Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, with an assist from ComplianceTech’s LendingPatterns.com.
The 10 biggest lenders
- Quicken Loans. The biggest by a large margin, Quicken originated more than 1.1 million loans worth $314 billion in 2020, according to HMDA data. (Reflecting the close-but-not-perfect nature of HMDA data, Quicken parent Rocket Mortgage’s annual report pegs the total at $320 billion.) Quicken more than doubled both its number of loans originated and dollar volume from 2019 to 2020.
- United Shore Financial. Better known as United Wholesale Mortgage, this lender originated 560,798 loans worth nearly $183 billion in 2020. Both figures represented a nearly 70 percent increase from 2019.
- Freedom Mortgage. This fast-growing company originated 389,146 home loans worth nearly $100 billion in 2020. Both totals were up about 250 percent from the previous year. Freedom Mortgage focuses on loans offered through the Federal Housing Administration and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs mortgage programs. Its average loan amount of $255,000 was the lowest among the top 10.
- Wells Fargo. Megabank Wells Fargo originated 320,026 loans worth $137 billion last year.
- LoanDepot. LoanDepot originated 294,467 loans worth $101 billion, both about double 2019 levels.
- JPMorgan Chase. The megabank’s Chase Home Lending originated 229,061 loans worth $108 billion. Its average loan amount — nearly $472,000 — was the highest among the top 10.
- Caliber Home Loans. Caliber originated 228,633 mortgages worth $71 billion, both up about 70 percent from 2019.
- Fairway Independent Mortgage. The lender opened 228,154 loans worth $65 billion.
- Bank of America. The megabank originated 184,118 mortgages with a total value of $78 billion. Bank of America was the only lender in the top 10 that generated fewer loans in 2020 than 2019.
- U.S. Bank. The financial institution originated 180,649 mortgages worth $59 billion.
Traditional banks take a breather
If you took out a mortgage last year, chances are you opted for a non-bank lender rather than the bank where you keep your checking and savings accounts.
Traditional financial institutions seemed not to push for new business in 2020. While Freedom Mortgage saw a 255 percent jump in loan originations from 2019 to 2020, Bank of America experienced a 14 percent decline. The other banks in the top 10 — Wells Fargo, Chase and U.S. Bank — also showed modest growth compared to the non-bank lenders on the list.
“This has been the general trend since the financial crisis,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. “Banks have backed off of — but not eliminated — originations. Non-banks more than filled the void as the market picked up, and the big banks often buy the servicing rights so they’re in the game with less risk and cyclicality on the origination side.”