A month ago, wags were calling Andrew D. Woodward Jr., president of NationsBanc Mortgage Corp., the Hamlet of the home loan business, hesitating to buy while his competitors at major banks were snapping up mortgage assets.

But nobody doubts any longer that Mr. Woodward is a man of action.

In two days last week, NationsBanc Mortgage plunked down almost $550 million for two mammoth pools of loan servicing and a giant processing plant in upstate New York.

"Obviously, we like the business," Mr. Woodward deadpans.

Last Wednesday, the company announced that it would buy a $10 billion package of rights from Source One Mortgage Service Corp., a deal observers valued at $195 million.

Thursday brought the news that NationsBanc Mortgage came away the winner of the auction for a $25 billion portfolio of servicing rights and a servicing center owned by Keycorp, a $350 million deal.

"For a while, we thought we might be able to get both deals done the same day," said Mr. Woodward.

The executive now finds himself at the helm of a mortgage bank with a top-tier servicing portfolio and, evidently, the deep pockets to keep it growing. Many predicted fast growth for the company when it tapped Mr. Woodward, formerly chief of Fleet Mortgage Group, to become president in June 1994.

NationsBanc now finds itself with a $75 billion portfolio of loan servicing rights, the fifth largest in the country. Fully $50 billion of that has been purchased by the bank in the past seven months - in last week's deals and in one in August when the company bought $6.5 billion of servicing from Express America Holdings.

"Servicing is clearly the best thing we can do for additions to GAAP earnings," said Mr. Woodward, adding that he hoped the lower-than-market interest rates on most of the rights purchased will mean a more reliable flow of cash.

But with the exception of a small outfit in California, NationsBanc has yet to take the plunge into buying loan production assets.

Production at the NationsBank Corp. unit was $5.9 billion last year, a number that some call too small in relation to a $75 million servicing portfolio.

"With runoff rates where they are, we don't feel we are out of balance. Our current production more than covers runoff," said Mr. Woodward.

But expansion in the production franchise is an open issue, "It's the old question, do you build it or buy it?"

NationsBanc Mortgage will be looking at a variety of channels for expansion, including telemarketing.

NationsBanc did take a pass on the correspondent and wholesale production units that Keycorp was trying to sell along with its servicing operation. Mr. Woodward termed those units "redundant."

To go with the servicing, NationsBanc Mortgage will now have servicing centers in Louisville, Ky.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Buffalo. "We are excited about the new platform. Obviously we will have to focus on how we can use it most efficiently," he said. For now, the company plans to hold on to all three centers.

Spending $500 million in two days can cause other problems. Asked how many days he had spent at home in the last two weeks, Mr. Woodward responded, "You'd have to ask my wife about that 'cause I can't remember. Not many, that's for sure."

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