Housing Market's Recovery Still Unclear: Wells CFO
Special to CNBC.com
The housing market is improving but it's not clear whether it has hit its low yet, Wells Fargo Chief Financial Officer Timothy Sloan told CNBC.
Unlike JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who told CNBC last week the housing market has bottomed out, Sloan said "It's not clear" whether that has happened but "I hope that is the case."
Earlier Tuesday, Wells reported earnings that beat expectations on lower loan losses.
Wells Fargo is the largest originator of home loans in the U.S. Its mortgage banking income increased to $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $1.8 billion in the third, but down from $2.8 billion a year ago, as the bank benefited from an increase in home loan refinancings.
"We love the business," Sloan said of housing. "We had a great mortgage quarter. Our pipeline ended the fourth quarter very strong, so we expect another good quarter in the first quarter."
He said there has been a "real difference" between the value of distressed, or foreclosed upon, housing and other housing.
"The distressed values are still under a lot of pressure. The non-distressed housing is up," he said. "It's not clear when the market's going to turn. It feels better than it did a year ago but we haven't seen a turn yet."
Loan growth was broad-based, he said, including in commercial banking, commercial real estate, corporate banking and consumer auto loans and credit cards. The bank's investment banking business also had a strong quarter.
"Your guess is as good as mine in terms of where the markets are going to go," he said. "We just want to make sure the right people are in front of our clients to give real value to them...We need to be able to demonstrate that we can deliver for our customers and shareholders in any kind of market."
—Reuters contributed to this report.