The number of state licensed mortgage companies licensed through the National Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) was essentially unchanged in 2013 but the number of mortgage loan originators (MLOs) and especially the number of licenses they held saw substantial growth.  NMLS issued its 2013 Annual Report on Tuesday which showed that the number of mortgage companies holding licenses decreased by 2 percent to a total of 16,178 entities during the year although the number of licenses held by those companies increased by 4 percent to 34,998.  The number of company branches also increased, up by 6 percent to 19,976 and the licenses held by the branches went up by 17 percent to 38,595.

The number of licensed mortgage loan originators (MLOs) increased by 8 percent and the number of licenses they held shot up 28 percent.  At the end of the fourth quarter there were 130,311 MLOs nationwide holding 331,351 individual licenses or an average of 1.8 licenses each.

The growth in MLOs was nationwide.  Every state had a net increase in the number of MLOs holding their licenses but the increasing numbers of MLOs were cutting a smaller pie.  Mortgages originated by state licensed MLOs declined significantly in Quarters 2 and 3 as the refinancing boom retreated.

NMLS said the state licenses it manages are approved for a calendar year and on December 31, a significant number of them are not submitted for renewal and become expired. This graph shows the monthly number of approved MLO licenses over the past three years. Total MLO licenses have grown both year over year and throughout the year from 2011 to 2013.



Many of the states that saw the largest growth in the numbers of MLOs were the same states which adopted the Uniform State Test, which streamlined the addition of new licenses for MLOs who work in multiple states.  The largest net growth in the numbers of MLOs was seen in South Dakota, up 112 percent, North Dakota with a net increase of 106 percent, and Iowa, up 90 percent.

There was also a big increase in the reach of MLOs.  The number of MLOs who were operating in only one state increased by 3 percent in 2013 while the number who were operating in 10 or more states went up by 52 percent.



Mortgage originations reversed course in the last two quarters of 2013.  The number of originations had doubled during 2012 due mostly to refinancing.  With the exception of an uptick in the second quarter, originations by state-licensed companies' declined throughout 2013, almost entirely due to decline in refinance transactions.


The 258 companies that operated in more than 20 states had the largest share of loan originations, accounting for 46 percent of the total while the thousands that operated in only one state had only a 20 percent share.   

NMLS said the number of federally registered MLOs and companies changed very little during the year.  The number of registered entities declined by 2 percent to 10,848 while registered MLOs saw a 1 percent increase in their numbers to 404,239.