Six months ago Interfirst Mortgage Co. issued pink slips to over 350 non-commissioned loan officers, a workforce reduction that former workers claimed to represent more than half of Interfirst’s entire staff.
It was not enough: the Rosemont, Illinois-based business plans to lay off 140 more employees in May, a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) the company filed in early March reveals.
Interfirst plans to lay off at the lender’s facility in Rosemont beginning on May 13, 2022, or within two weeks of that date. The company’s job cuts include human resources, technology, talent acquisition, and executive assistant positions.
The workforce reduction is also focused on mortgage loan production. The lender is scheduled to lay off 26 processors, 20 originators, and 15 mortgage account executives in junior and specialist job positions. The company is also laying off four people with the title of vice-president.
Interfirst did not respond to requests for comment left by HousingWire.
Some mortgage lenders reduced their workforce in the second half of 2021 and are now implementing new layoff rounds, such as Interfirst and Better.com. Interest rates are rising fast, reaching 5.10% last week, compared to 2.98% a year ago, according to the latest Freddie Mac PMMS. Higher rates are depressing refi volumes by 71% year-over-year, a Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) report showed.
Interfirst is a mortgage business founded in 2001 by Dmitry Godin that has been harmed before by market downturns.
In 2012, the historically low interest rates led to a boom in refinances, and the lender grew to $14.5 billion in origination volume, cementing its place as the 15th largest originator in the country.
But Interfirst struggled to maintain volumes in the following years as the market turned to purchase. The company reduced its origination to $2 billion in 2016 before shutting down altogether in 2017.
Godin relaunched the business in late 2019 as a lender focused on both wholesale and retail channels. It was just before refinance volumes started to grow again due to rates at historically low levels to deal with Covid-19’s impact pandemic on the economy.
Interfirst boasted of its ability to train people with no background in mortgage through a rigorous training course.
In October 2021, a $175 million investment from principals at the private holding company StoicLane was used to grow operations and refine and develop new technologies. StoicLane and the executives did not respond to a request for comment about the additional layoffs.
In November, Interfirst laid off 77 employees in Charlotte, North Carolina (including 50 LOs), and 274 in Rosemont.
According to former employees, the layoffs indicate that Interfirst, having shed much of its retail operation, may turn to mortgage brokers and hope that they feed the company deals.