The six months since we published our last Home Loan Leaders supplements have been eventful ones.

Refinancings of mortgages have taken off and, together with strong demand for loans to buy homes, are pushing lending volume toward a record this year.

What happens after a record year? After the previous record was set in 1993, the next year was a disaster as refinancings stopped dead and bloated lenders were slow to cut back their staffs and close newly opened offices. This time around, they appear to be better prepared, and their efforts are discussed in the article on the facing page.

Meanwhile, merger agreements have been reshuffling membership in the $100 billion servicing club, which may soon have nine members. Prospects of further growth of the club are meager, however, as discussed in the article on page 10A.

The refinancing boom, however, could spell trouble for some servicers. A statistical feature on page 4A examines lenders' ability to replace prepaid loans through new originations.

In the face of consolidation and of slim profit margins for many midsize - and large - lenders, some have found profitable niches for themselves. One of them is Headlands Mortgage, which has gotten big and profitable by specializing in "alternative A" loans.

One-stop shopping for mortgage-related services has also come closer to reality. In acquiring Contour Software, First American now has a nearly complete product line. See article, page 15A.

Despite the turmoil in the business, the secondary market for mortgage debt remains strong, as discussed in the article on page 6A.

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