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E-LOAN, Wells Announce Layoffs

Fading forecast forces online lender to make cuts

November 7, 2003


A forecast of falling refinances led an online lender to join a growing list of companies that have recently announced mortgage job cuts.

E-LOAN Inc. laid off 49 employees Tuesday, of which "almost all of them were from our mortgage business," said company spokeswoman Tiffany Fox in a phone interview. The layoffs translate approximately into an 5% slice of its overall employment, which totaled 890 at the end of the third quarter, and about 10% from its mortgage business workforce, which totaled 450.

Fox indicated that the company's fourth quarter forecast of decreased refinance mortgage volume, as well as the predictions made by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA) in October, prompted E-LOAN's decision to cut jobs.

"As always throughout the history of the company, we always evaluate staffing levels in all our business lines based on demand," said Fox. "We'll continue to do that." On this note, Fox acknowledged more mortgage employment layoffs could ensue.

E-LOAN anticipates a 23% decline in refinance mortgage volume during the fourth quarter, while the MBA predicts 65% for the industry, said Fox. And even though the MBA predicts a 23% change in the industry's purchase volume, E-LOAN predicts this segment of its volume to stay similar to that of the third quarter.

The layoffs at E-LOAN follow Washington Mutual Inc.'s recent disclosure that it would cut about 4,000 out of 22,000 mortgage employees to trim expenses and meet financial goals. This was in addition to 1,500 layoffs in the third quarter. The banking behemoth cited a slowed pace of refinancings as the reason.

Additional layoffs occurred at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. The company announced that it released a number of temporary and contract associates "to reflect the pace of the market and our current application volume." The number of layoffs could not be verified, a spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement. Its residential real estate first mortgage applications totaled $135 billion at the third quarter's end, according to the latest Wells Fargo & Company earnings statement.

Meanwhile, the latest monthly report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the total number of people working in mortgage-related employment -- "Real Estate Credit" and "Mortgage and Nonmortgage Loan Brokers" -- decreased by 1,100 in August.

The overall unemployment rate remained at 6.1% or 9 million people in September, said the Bureau.

Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.

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