It's official: First-quarter issuance of mortgage-backed securities more than doubled the year-earlier figure.

The numbers were released recently by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which serves as a repository for statistics on all types of mortgage securities, whether they are issued by government-sponsored enterprises or conduits operated by private companies.

The less-than-timely numbers came as no surprise. But what does the rest of the year hold for mortgage-backed securities? Observers say this year's volume will top last year's but may not show the kind of strength demonstrated in the first quarter.

This fall expect $21 billion of fixed-rate issuance each month, says Salomon Brothers. That would be down from August's $22.5 billion but a solid showing nonetheless, said Anthony C. Lembke, mortgage analyst with the investment bank.

Looking further ahead, he said issuance will probably drop into the high teens by early 1997, before rebounding in the spring.

All told, the agencies and private conduits issued $104.3 billion of mortgage securities during the first three months of 1996, compared with $39.7 billion in the 1995 quarter, the HUD figures show.

Conventional loans sold through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, and the Farmers Home Loan program accounted for $93.2 billion of this year's first-quarter volume. Jumbo and other nonconventional loans that were securitized through private conduits accounted for the rest, $11.1 billion. During the 1995 quarter, conventional loans made up $35.3 billion of securitizations and nonconforming loans $4.7 billion.

The 1996 figures represent the third-biggest pool of mortgage securities ever recorded in a first quarter, said John N. Dickie, HUD's chief statistician for mortgages.

"The dip in interest rates and good home prices" combined in the first quarter to boost loan volume, and thus securitizations, Mr. Dickie said. The figures consider volume by mortgage companies, commercial banks, savings and loans, life insurance companies, and other lenders.

Mortgage volume was indeed up early this year. In the first quarter lenders originated $205 billion of home loans, the HUD figures show. In the same period in 1995, lenders made only $119 billion of home loans.

Mortgage companies produced $121 billion of this year's first-quarter volume. The companies lent $103.6 billion on existing properties and $17.4 billion for new homes.

Commercial banks accounted for $46.8 billion - $27.7 billion for existing properties and $19.1 billion on new homes. Of the $28 billion lent by savings and loans, $25.8 financed the purchase of existing homes and $2.6 billion went for new properties. Mutual savings banks, life insurance companies, and pension funds made up the balance of the first quarter lending.

In last year's first quarter, mortgage companies lent $65 billion, with $54.3 billion on existing homes and $10.7 billion for new home purchases. Commercial banks financed $30 billion, with $19.6 billion for existing homes and $10.4 billion for new sites.

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