For total year 2013, GE Capital paid $6 billion in dividends at the parent and will pay an additional $130 million in the first quarter to reflect the higher fourth quarter earnings.
On the right side of the page, asset quality trends continue to be strong with delinquency rates improving across the portfolio. We ended the quarter with $29 billion of commercial paper, ahead of our plans, and liquidity was very strong, ending the quarter at $75 billion.
Now I'll walk through each of the segments. The Commercial Lending and Leasing business ended the fourth quarter with $174 billion of assets, that's down 4% from last year, including a reduction in non-core assets of $3 billion. On-book core volume was $13 billion, down 8%, due to the elevated level of customer activity we saw last year from the U.S. fiscal cliff concerns.
But we did see strong volume growth in the U.S. direct mid-market businesses, which were up 32% in the quarter versus 2012. Overall, new business returns remain attractive at about 2% ROIs, despite continued excess liquidity. These are positive growth indicators as we think about CLL – our core CLL business going into next year.
Earnings of $263 million were down 52%, driven by lower assets and impairments. After adjusting for impairments that I covered on the prior page, earnings would have been up 1% with assets down 4%. Asset quality was stable in the portfolio. In 2013, the CLL business earned $2 billion, and going into '14, we expect it to be up double digits.
The consumer segment ended the quarter with $132 billion of assets that's down 4% from last year. The Swiss and BAY deals we exited reduced assets by $5 billion. Net income of $2.1 billion was up almost three times, again driven by these two transactions, partially offset by higher credit costs and charges related to the portfolio actions that I talked about on the prior page.
North American retail finance earned $466 million in the fourth quarter that's down 2% as higher core net income was offset by reserve adjustments and continued marketing investments. Asset growth in the business was strong at 10%, driven by volume up 11%. Overall, consumer asset quality remained stable.
Real estate had another decent quarter. Assets ended the quarter at $39 billion that's down 16%, down $1 billion sequentially. The equity book is down 32% from a year ago to $14 billion. Net income of $128 million was down 59% versus 2012, but in line with where we expected them to be. That was driven by non-repeat of last year's gain from the sale of our business properties portfolio of about $82 million and our Sweden equity sell down at about $75 million.
In the quarter we sold 341 properties with a book value of about $2.4 billion for $145 million in gains. The debt business earned over $100 million in the quarter and originated $4.7 billion of volume at attractive returns, including the purchase of a $1.8 billion U.K. portfolio from Deutsche Postbank.
Asset quality continues to improve with 30-day delinquencies at 124 basis points and that's the lowest level we've seen since the crises.