Norwest Mortgage's servicing portfolio surpassed the $250 billion mark last week.

The Wells Fargo & Co. unit is believed to have joined BankAmerica Corp.'s home loan unit in the $250 billion club. BankAmerica had $249.7 billion Dec. 31. In October 1997, Norwest became the first company to surpass $200 billion.

Michael J. Heid, executive vice president for loan servicing at Norwest Mortgage, attributed the portfolio's growth to "the sheer scale of our production and a heavy focus on customer retention." Norwest's 4,579-strong retail sales force brought in $56.2 billion of its $109.4 billion production last year.

Mr. Heid said that growth has lowered Norwest's cost of servicing. "The servicing business continues to get more and more sophisticated, creating the need for more significant investments" in technology, he said. "Scale helps spread those investments over a broader base." He declined to give specific numbers.

Mr. Heid added that if economists' forecasts prove correct, Norwest Mortgage could "easily" double the size of its portfolio in the next three to five years without making any acquisitions.

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