Independent mortgage bankers earned $1,135 on each single-family loan they originated in 2009, compared with an average profit of $305 per loan in 2008, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association report.

The report, released Tuesday, said that 96% of the 219 firms surveyed posted pretax profits last year, compared with 59% in 2008.

Marina Walsh, the MBA's associate vice president of industry analysis, said higher profits were driven by a drop in production expenses per loan and higher origination volumes attributed mostly to refinancings.

Still, profits for mortgage subsidiaries of banks and thrifts averaged 79.5 basis points per loan, while profits at independent mortgage companies averaged just 54.9 basis points per loan.

Bank and thrift subsidiaries had an advantage over independent mortgage companies "because of lower loan officer compensation per loan and higher net interest spread due to lower warehouse funding costs and the ability to keep loans in warehouse longer," Walsh said in a press release.

The net cost to originate, which includes all origination operating expenses and commissions minus all fee income (but excludes secondary marketing gains, capitalized servicing, servicing release premiums and warehouse interest spread), dropped to $1,628 per loan in 2009 from $2,291 in 2008, the survey found.

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