CAMPBELL, Calif. — A pair of independent surveys point to strong mortgage lender use of Contour Software Inc.’s Loan Handler origination product.

Wholesale Access, of Columbia, Md., said the Loan Handler origination system produced nearly two million loans in 1999. That figure derived from an estimate of retail business that came through brokers to lenders in 1999 and the assumption that Contour’s market share held at its 1998 level: 36% of broker volume.

Contour’s software was used to originate 3.8% of loans through lenders’ retail channels, Wholesale Access concluded.

The research firm estimated that $228 billion of mortgages were originated using Contour’s software in 1999. That estimate combined the mortgage broker and retail lending markets and was tops in both markets for loan origination systems.

Contour, a unit of the Los Angeles title company First American Corp., noted that it achieved these numbers at a time of a drop in originations caused in part by higher interest rates.

The other survey was by National Mortgage News, a sister publication of American Banker. It found that Contour was tops among brokers, grabbing 31% of their loan volume in 1999.

These findings “show that even with a significant decline in the overall origination of mortgage loans by brokers, they still prefer to pay a little more to use our software,’’ said Scott Cooley, president of Contour Software.

Mr. Cooley said he expects Loan Handler’s market share “to increase even more now that we are rolling out our 5.0 version — a major ground-up redesign five years in the making.’’

Larry Pearl, managing director of Wholesale Access, said the data came from a survey this year of 4,000 mortgage lenders and a 1999 poll of 4,000 brokers

The National Mortgage News survey polled 1,000 mortgage lenders, 4,000 mortgage brokers, and 750 servicers. Contour was founded in 1982. Its flagship product, the Mortgage Banking Series, has software for every facet of mortgage lending.

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