Production expenses averaged $8,887 per loan for independent mortgage bankers in the first quarter as there were fewer originations to absorb the costs.

This was up from $7,562 in the fourth quarter and $7,845 in the first quarter of 2016, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Production expenses are defined as commissions, compensation, occupancy, equipment and other related costs.

"The drop in overall production volume in the first quarter of 2017 resulted in the highest per-loan production expenses reported since inception of our study in the third quarter of 2008," said Marina Walsh, the MBA's vice president of industry analysis, in a press release.

Those companies that own mortgage servicing rights benefited from the increase in interest rates that resulted in valuation gains and helped their overall profitability, Walsh said.

Independent mortgage bankers averaged $445 million per company in volume, down from $690 million in the fourth quarter, with purchases making up 68% of the total.

Total volume for all originators for the quarter was $361 billion, down from $470 billion in the fourth quarter. Purchase volume was $212 billion, down from $232 billion, while refinance volume was $149 billion, down from $238 billion.

Originators did see increased production revenue to $9,111 per loan, compared with $8,137 in the fourth quarter. Production revenue includes fee income, net secondary marketing income and warehouse spread.

On a per-loan basis, net secondary marketing income increased to $7,469 in the first quarter, up from $6,433 per loan in the fourth quarter of 2016.