South Carolina-based Movement Mortgage laid off around 170 employees in March, another case of a top-25 mortgage lender paring back its workforce due to a more challenging origination landscape.
Pink slips are arriving to between 165 and 170 operational employees across the country, including professionals in the processing, underwriting and closing areas, multiple company sources told HousingWire.
Movement did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Founded in 2008, Movement Mortgage focuses on providing loans quickly and easily to homebuyers, with a network of loan officers in more than 775 locations nationwide, and more than 4,500 employees, the company’s website shows.
The retail lender has historically focused on purchase loans, but, like many lenders, built up an infrastructure over the last two years to originate more refinances in a lower interest rates landscape.
In total, the company originated $33.1 billion in 2021, up 10.7% compared to the previous year, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. However, originations fell 0.7% between the third and fourth quarter, to $8.2 billion.
Movement Mortgage ranked as the 24th largest mortgage lenders in the country in 2021, per IMF data.
The latest pink slip wave represents the second large-scale layoff Movement has made in the last five years. Movement cut 180 jobs in 2018 due to a nationwide downturn in the housing and mortgage market. In a note, the company cited lower mortgage origination forecasts for 2019, rising interest rates and low housing inventory among the reasons for the layoffs.
Sound familiar? On Friday, the average mortgage rate was 4.9%, according to rate lock data from Black Knight’s Optimal Blue OBMMI index.
Mortgage rates are climbing amid rising inflation, war in Ukraine, and disruptions to the supply chain, and there’s no sign that they’ll fall anytime soon. The Federal Reserve is expected to make six more rate hikes in 2022, and some Fed watchers believe the central bank will raise rates by 50 basis points several times.
The higher-rate landscape is affecting all mortgage companies. Despite a decline in origination, the largest nonbank players, like Rocket Mortgage, United Wholesale Mortgage, loanDepot have a cash cushion due to the historic years of 2020 and 2021. Others aren’t as fortunate. Digital lender Better.com, which rocketed to the top 25 by making a killing with refis, has laid off 3,000 employees. Other refi-centric lenders, such as Interactive Mortgage, recently cut 51 jobs. Freedom Mortgage also cut jobs at its Fort Mill, South Carolina location in late 2021, as HousingWire previously reported.