The two largest independent mortgage companies reported strong originations in November.
Countrywide Credit Industries, Pasadena, Calif., said it booked $3.1 billion of home loans in the month, against $2.2 billion it originated in November 1994.
North American Mortgage Co., Santa Rosa, Calif., said it funded $794 million of loans in the month, up from $459 million a year earlier.
Countrywide's servicing portfolio grew to $133 billion as of Nov. 30, the company said. It was $105 billion a year earlier. The average weighted coupon was 7.8%, up from 7.4% a year ago.
Countrywide remains the nation's largest servicer but may be overtaken by Norwest Mortgage Inc., when the Des Moines-based lender's acquisition of most of Prudential Home Mortgage Co.'s portfolio is complete. Norwest is already the No. 1 retail originator.
The No. 2 slot in servicing would then be contested by Countrywide and the combined Chase-Chemical mortgage operation when the megamerger between the New York banks is completed.
North American Mortgage also reported $1.24 billion in loan applications in November, a 73% increase over the level in November last year.
"The steady decline in interest rates over the last several months has spurred strong refinance activity," said John F. Farrell Jr., chairman and chief executive.
The company's servicing portfolio in November was unchanged at $14.5 billion, as North American has been selling the servicing on its new loans. The portfolio has an average weighted coupon of 7.72%, and a 2.97% delinquency rate.
Separately, Standard & Poor's raised its rating on North American Mortgage's senior debt to BBB-plus, from BBB.
Terrance G. Hodel, president of North American, attributed the upgrade to the company's expanded originations, reduced costs, and reengineering of loan production.