Banks are in and thrifts are out.
That was the big story in the mortgage industry last year, as indicated by American Banker's rankings of the 100 top originators and servicers of home loans. (See tables beginning on page 10.)
For the first time in decades, no thrift company was among the top 10 mortgage originators last year. Adjustable-rate mortgages, the thrifts' bread and butter, were out of favor at the same time that major thrifts were in the midst of redefining their business.
As a result, Home Savings of America, the nation's biggest thrift, plunged to No. 16 in originations, from No. 9. Among the other large savings institutions, Great Western dropped a notch, to No. 13; World Savings fell five places, to No. 19; and American Savings sank seven places, to No. 25.
Bucking the trend was Standard Federal Bank of Troy, Mich., which surged to 11th place, from No. 24, as it ambitiously expanded through acquisitions and internal growth. Standard is dwarfed in assets by the top thrifts, but it has been operating more as a mortgage banking company than as a savings institution and thus is less affected by consumers' preference for fixed- rate loans. This route may yet be taken by its bigger rivals.
But commercial banks were another story. They increased their market shares last year in a wave of acquisitions and mergers. Leading this trend was Norwest Corp., which showed a gain of 36% in originations and 48% in servicing.
Overall, the 41 bank-owned companies in the top 100 increased originations by about 17%, while the 26 thrift units had a drop of about 3%.
The mortgage units of NationsBank Corp. and BankAmerica Corp. both moved up slightly in the rankings. BancBoston Mortgage jumped into 10th place, from 19th, with an acquisition-driven gain of 91%. Bank of Boston has since spun off the mortgage unit, which has been renamed Homeside Lending Inc. The bank now holds 50% of Homeside and will eventually have just one-third.
As a result of all these moves, seven of the top 10 originators were units of commercial banks. And only 10 thrifts placed in the top 50.
Last year was also a rocky one for mortgage companies not owned by banks or thrifts. The biggest, Countrywide Credit, is independent, publicly held, and still holding onto the No. 1 spots in servicing and originations. And the No. 2 public company, North American Mortgage, held on in originations, slipping one notch, to No. 12.
The biggest success in this group was Resource Mortgage Bancshares, which jumped to 15th place from 32d on a gain of 146%.
But GE Capital Mortgage slumped to No. 26 from No. 6 as it exited retail lending and fled from an unprofitable wholesale market for much of the year. And Prudential Home Mortgage, while dropping only one place, to No. 4, posted a decline of 35% in originations. The unit was being sold piecemeal during most of the year.