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Better Times for Mortgage Banking

An interesting report today from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows business may be better than we think for their people.

Independent mortgage bankers and subsidiaries made an average profit of $1,358 on each loan they originated in the second quarter of 2009, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). This profit marks an increase from the first quarter of 2009 when profits averaged $1,088 per loan, according to the MBA's most recent Quarterly Mortgage Bankers Performance Report. This report measures the performance of independent mortgage bankers and subsidiaries of banks, thrifts and hedge funds.

The increase was fueled by the continuing refi boom. The increase in production volume made it easier for lenders to spread out their fixed costs over a larger number of loans, and that increased net profits. Also, the MBA notes, purchases picked up "as homebuyers with good credit took advantage of low interest rates." FICO scores of the average borrower rose, and that increased pull-through rates (that's the rate at which a borrower who applies for a loan actually gets the loan). I'm liking the higher caliber borrowers in today's environment.

Now here's the important part:

96 percent of the firms in the study posted pre-tax net financial profits in the first quarter 2009. In the first quarter 2009, 85 percent of the companies posted profits. Only 53 percent of the companies were profitable in the fourth quarter 2008.

Some positive news in an otherwise slow and dreary housing recovery.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com