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National Wholesaler Done

1st National abandons brokers, maintains direct lending

August 22, 2007

By staff

An Arizona-based national wholesale lender that specialized in Alt-A lending has abandoned mortgage broker business. While a direct lending unit will remain, more than 500 employees will be laid off.

1st National Bank Holding Co. will discontinue its Alt-A wholesale lending operations, according to an announcement Tuesday. The company, which operated with account executives in 43 states, will close three operations centers.

The actions led to 351 layoffs yesterday, and another 190 jobs will be cut by Dec. 31, the company said. In April, 212 mortgage employees were terminated.

"I have never seen a market shift as drastically as has occurred in the mortgage business over the last four months, but even more precipitous in the last few weeks," 1st National Chairman Raymond Lamb said in the announcement. "This was one of the most painful decisions of my 38-year career."

Loan commitments on applications that were locked by Aug. 21 will be honored, 1st National said.

Bank divisions in Reno, Nev.; Las Vegas; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Newport Beach, Calif., are unaffected by the moves, the statement said. Bank subsidiaries include1st National Bank of Arizona, 1st National Bank of Nevada and 1st Heritage Bank of California.

The Scottsdale-based company said it plans to continue retail mortgage operations through offices in Tucson; Scottsdale; Albuquerque, N.M., Las Vegas and Reno. A Tempe, Ariz., operations center will also remain open.

More than 1,000 employees will remain after the latest round of layoffs, including 130 mortgage servicing positions, 1st National reported.

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