Wells Fargo Creates SWAT Team to Keep Loans In-House

Commercial

Wells Fargo Co., the largest U.S. home lender, has assigned about 400 underwriters to originate mortgages for the bank to hold, with as many as 40% of those loans likely to fall outside government guidelines taking effect this week.

The bank is training the group as a way to increase lending without losing control of quality, according to Brad Blackwell, head of portfolio lending for the San Francisco-based lender. The group will review loans including those with terms that prevent them from qualifying for protections provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, under new rules, he said.

Wells Fargo, responsible for about one in five U.S. mortgages last year, is pushing the initiative to compete for clients seeking non-conventional loans such as those with interest-only payments. That segment will be increasingly sought-after at a time when rising interest rates are curbing borrowing demand and banks are facing the biggest regulatory overhaul since the Great Depression.

As rates continue to rise and refinancing volume continues to contract, lenders are going to be looking for a way to keep their staffs busy, said Erin Lantz, director of mortgages at Zillow Inc.

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