Three years after making a big splash in mortgages and then growing its business to become the 12th largest in the U.S., insurance conglomerate MetLife is now throwing in the towel on residential finance.

The insurer said its reasoning was simple: “Today's uncertain marketplace and regulatory environment require a tremendous amount of resources – both in terms of people and capital – to effectively compete in and profitably grow the forward mortgage business. Doing so would divert these resources away from MetLife's primary focus on its global insurance and employee benefits businesses.”

At press time a spokesman for the company declined to elaborate on its initial statement about exploring a sale of its “forward” mortgage division. A few months ago the insurer said it planned to sell its bank, but planned on keeping the mortgage business.

In the second quarter MetLife Home Loans, Irving, Texas, funded $4.5 billion in residential mortgages, an 11% decline from 2Q 2010.

Not only is it an active lender/servicer, but it also operates a warehouse lending division and a reverse mortgage originator.

MetLife entered the residential finance space in June 2008 when it bought several mortgage-related divisions from First Horizon Bancorp.

Subscribe Now

Access to a full range of industry content, analysis and expert commentary.

30-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Access coverage of the securitization marketplace, including breaking news updated throughout the day.