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Residential Department: Backspace: April 2014



Breaking down the Top Originators 2013 data

There are nearly 1,400 conclusions to draw from this year’s Top Originators rankings.

Each of our entrants provides a snapshot of the mortgage industry in this past year. Scotsman Guide has put these snapshots together to convey the big-picture perspective on how the industry fared in a year marked with lofty expectations and significant uncertainty.

In our analysis, we’ve identified three broad trends that affected almost all of our entrants’ production:

  • Lower volumes. Despite the staggering volumes that were closed by some of our top-ranked originators, the 2013 numbers are generally lower than the previous year’s;
  • Focus on the purchase market. The industry’s top producers could see the market shifting away from refinance deals in response to increasing interest rates; and
  • Drop in niche volumes. Volumes dropped in the three niche-loan categories that we track: Federal Housing Administration (FHA), U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Reverse-mortgage volumes dropped, too.
Top Originators 2013 Data

Let’s look at each of these trends.


Although the 2013 housing market was a big improvement over the previous year’s, increasing interest rates put the brakes on the refinance boom. The numbers speak for themselves. In the 2012 rankings, nearly 1,500 entrants closed a total volume of about $93 billion and 326,556 loans. In the 2013 rankings, about 1,400 entrants closed a total volume of almost $71 billion and 253,471 loans.

Similarly, the top 300 originators on our 2013 top volume list closed an aggregate dollar volume of more than $30 billion, nearly an 18 percent decrease from the aggregate volume closed by the 2012 top 300 originators. All variables considered, the drop is still substantial and reflects an undeniable decline in individual volumes.

To put this volume change in perspective, the 2013 volumes remain well above those of the years that followed the housing crash. In fact, many of the originators we spoke with seemed unfazed by this dip, which they saw coming along with the end of the refinance boom — bringing us to the next point.

Focus on purchases

Top Originators 2013 Data

As refinances began to dry up this past year with increasing interest rates, our top originators and their companies put a conscious effort into targeting the purchase market. One of them, Victor Ciardelli, president and CEO of Guaranteed Rate, told us, “We focused on our purchase business for quite a while, and it really paid off.”

Our rankings prove it. Guaranteed Rate has 41 originators on our top-volume list, making it the company with the most ranked originators. The aggregate volume of these 41 originators splits almost evenly at 48 percent in purchase volume and 52 percent in refinance volume — similar to the overall breakdown of the top 300 originators’ aggregate volume at 49 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

This shift of focus is a big change from 2012 when purchases comprised merely 28 percent of the top 300 originators’ aggregate volume.

Top Originators 2013 Data


Through the years, Top Originators has tracked the rise and fall of different niches — particularly FHA, VA and USDA — giving us the opportunity to take a look at a broader range of market players. Many of those who made our niche lists were not necessarily on the dollar volume list for the year, but they were leaders and top producers in their specialties.

This year, the shrinking volumes across the different niches are hard to miss. For example, the aggregate volume of the top 25 originators ranked on the FHA volume list was just $878.4 million, nearly a 14 percent decline from the volume of the 2012 counterpart group.

VA volumes similarly dropped this past year. The total aggregate VA volume of our 25 top-ranked originators dropped from more than $2 billion in 2012 to just $1.5 billion this past year. Despite this nearly 25 percent decline, the 2013 volumes remain well above the levels seen in ’11 and ’10, indicating that the popularity of the different funding programs offered to the nation’s veterans probably will continue this year, but on a more limited scale.

Finally, USDA volumes were not hit as hard as the other niches. The aggregate volume of our 25 top-ranked originators only slightly decreased — from about $197 million in ’12 to $195 million this past year — probably a sign of strength in a year when volumes dropped across the board.

•  •  •

There is much more to the Top Originators data than meets the eye. For example, closing ratios can tell you what pull-through rates are realistic. Originators’ job functions (broker, banker or both) can indicate which area of the industry has become home for the nation’s top producers in the various ranking categories. Don’t overlook the wealth of information that you can draw on your own from these annual rankings. 


Rania Efthemes is director of content strategy at Scotsman Guide Media. Reach her at (800) 297-6061 or

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