The bank has created about a 400-member SWAT team of underwriters to review mortgages maybe falling outside of new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Standards, with the goal of still making the loan, but keeping the paper on Wells' (WFC +0.6%) own balance sheet.
Wells Fargo was responsible for about one-in-five mortgages last year and - amid a big slowdown in mortgage lending - is looking for growth by competing for clients seeking non-conventional loans. “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,” says Zillow's Erin Lantz.
Non-qualified mortgages may end up being 25-40% of Wells' total non-conforming loans, or 5% of all mortgages, says the bank's chief of portfolio lending, Brad Blackwell. “In the early days of our history, we were a mortgage bank: our primary responsibility was to originate and sell ... Today we are originating for our portfolio. These are loans that we will hold for their lifetime.”