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Layoffs, Consolidations Continue

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Nearly 100 mortgage jobs have been cut in the wake of two companies cutting back on their California operations. And a Wisconsin brokerage that employed 45 and did more than $1 billion in loans just two years ago has also closed.

B.F. Saul Mortgage, a division of Maryland-based Chevy Chase Bank, has closed three California lending offices that employed 50 people. The offices were in Orange County, San Diego and San Ramon, Drew Young, who managed the California offices, told MortgageDaily.com.

Mortgage brokers who visit B.F. Saul’s Wholesale Lending’s Web site are instructed to send all new loan files to in Bethesda, Md., where Chevy Chase Bank Wholesale Lending is located, or visit Chevy Chase’s wholesale lending Web site.

B.F. Saul is “consolidating everything back at corporate” in Maryland, Young said. “They see the downturn the economy and they are taking moves to protect themselves.”

Young said the California offices were handling volume of about $300 million a month during most of the summer “but it fell apart during the first two weeks in August.”

“There’s no liquidity in the market,” he said. “B.F. Saul is still steady and safe. We did all we could to make it — and when things turn around, we’ll be back.”

In San Rafael in Northern California, Residential Mortgage Capital has closed. Thirty-five people lost their jobs, said Jim Chapman, a principal in First Security Loan also of San Rafael. Residential Mortgage Capital was the mortgage lending unit of First Security.

First Security is continuing as a brokerage.

“It was a solidly run mortgage company,” Chapman said in a brief interview. “The company just stopped funding loans. There was too much going on in the market with the big lenders like Countrywide and others in the subprime business.”

Residential Mortgage Capital handled $4 billion in loans last year, he said.

Chapman, who has been in the business since 1983, said he has never seen the market in such poor condition.

And he doesn’t see it ending for another two years “until we get rid of the current housing stock and the value of residences start dropping.”

“Then, the secondary market will be willing to buy loans,” Chapman said.

Aggressive moves by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “could come to the rescue and maybe shorten the turnaround time to one year,” Chapman said.

In Wisconsin, Paragon Home Lending, which employed 45 and did $1.1 billion in loans in 2005, has apparently closed. Its Web site is dark and its phone has been disconnected. The employment was tracked by Manta.Com, an Internet business information site.

According to AllMortgageDetail.com, an online mortgage tracking service, Paragon’s loan production was dropping steadily, from $2.1 billion in 2003 to $1.7 billion in 2004 to $1.2 billion in 2005.

The company is no longer listed as licensed with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. Its license in Nebraska was canceled last spring, according to the Nebraska Department of Financial Institutions.

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