Wachovia Corp. is changing its retail lending model in several states in a move that will shift retail mortgage originations from the field to centralized origination centers. As a result, originators in those states are being eliminated.
The Charlotte, N.C.-company will shut down retail mortgage operations in 16 primarily Midwest states that have no retail bank branches, spokesman Don Vecchiarello told MortgageDaily.com Friday. He said those states are Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
In addition, retail mortgage operations are being closed in Illinois, Kansas and Mississippi -- though financial centers will remain open.
"We're not exiting those markets from a retail banking financial center perspective," he clarified. "We'll continue to offer all of our traditional banking products ... in those three states."
The closings will result in around 125 layoffs involving loan originators, managers and other related personnel. The number of retail mortgage branches being closed was not available.
The move is part of an expense-reduction plan disclosed in July which included reducing headcount by more than 10,000. Wachovia discontinued its wholesale lending business on July 25.
"We're not going to have any retail sales staff face-to-face, in-person staff, in those 19 states where we don't have any branch presence or we have very few branches," he stated.
Wachovia will continue to provide mortgage services to borrowers in the impacted states by Internet, telephone and direct mail. The business will be handled through existing mortgage centers, including one in Raleigh, N.C., and another in San Antonio, Texas -- where early last year the company had planned to increase the staff from 3,478 to around 4,000 but wound up cutting 160 jobs a few months later.
Vecchiarello noted no job additions are planned at the existing centers, which they estimate have enough existing personnel to handle the added originations.
Other than in the 19 impacted states, mortgage operations will not be affected.
"In all the other states we're still doing complete mortgage -- offering face-to-face service and face-to-face consultation -- in every state where we have significant branch presence," he explained.
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