Mortgage lenders are quite pleased with the housing market

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Mortgage brokerHome sweet home doesn't mean quite what it used to. Not to homeowners who want to sell their home but can't, thanks to a weak market. Not to those facing foreclosure, who will soon lose the roof over their heads. Not to the potential home buyers who are having more trouble securing loans than they used to. And not to real estate agents, who are having more trouble selling those houses these days and are seeing their commissions dropping.

But mortgage lenders like the old saying just fine, and as a group, they're probably quite pleased by the current state of the market.

Why? Because some people are managing to buy homes just fine, thanks, and according to a new report released by the Mortgage Bankers Association, independent mortgage lenders made an average profit of about $1,100 per loan in the first quarter of the year. For a little perspective, that's 635 percent more profit from the previous quarter.

How'd they do it? How else? Fees.

The publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, Guy Cecala, told The Huffington Post that it's due to all the upfront costs of buying a home: "Originating fees, underwriting fees, processing fees -- fees you haven't seen in years. There are roughly 12 to 20 fees you wouldn't have seen as recently as two to three years ago. But lenders can charge them, so they're charging them."

And it's not just fees from people buying houses, taking advantage of the $8,000 first-time home buyer's credit that is due to expire before the year is up (but is widely believed will be extended into next year). There's a lot of refinancing going on as well.

So maybe it's not a coincidence that Bloomberg.com recently reported that Bank of America is seeking to expand its more than 20% market share.

Still, the news isn't all bad for the consumer. Closing costs may be approaching the ridiculous, but interest rates are low, and there's that tax credit, all of which takes some of the sting out of the fees. If your credit is good and you have the cash, it's a buyer's market.

Geoff Williams is a regular at WalletPop.com, usually writing about banking issues. He also writes about real estate for HGTV's FrontDoor.com.
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