Mortgage layoffs – why there’s no need to panic

Execs detail success in finding new jobs for the suddenly jobless

Mortgage layoffs – why there’s no need to panic

Those working at real estate staffing company TalentWoo prefer to think of layoffs that have beset the mortgage industry as opportunities rather than signs of challenging times.

In an interview with Mortgage Professional America, company officials sought to convey encouragement to those in the mortgage industry affected by the layoffs that have occurred against an inflationary backdrop marked by higher interest rates. With their particular skillset, industry professionals are able to transition into a variety of other jobs. For example, senior VP Buck Rogers said, loan officers are a good fit in sales, leadership roles and project management to some degree.

CEO Jerel Cain (pictured top) agreed with the assessment, noting the high degree of adaptability mortgage industry workers have to other industries. “There are other people who are in escrow, foreclosure, specialists, any type of call center-type roles. Credit card debt is at an all-time high, auto loans are at an all-time high. So people can sort of fit into those sister industries – a lot of transferable skills. Attention to detail and people skills work well.”

Cain sought to assuage feelings of anxiety those experiencing layoffs might have, noting the vast difference with the Great Recession of 2008, which was exponentially more dire. “People should also know there are a lot of layoffs, but these people are getting employed quickly,” Cain said. “It’s not like 2008 when people were out of work for six months, eight months. We’re talking people being out for like a week, two weeks. There’s still a scramble for that talent, and for those smaller companies trying to hire.”

Mortgage layoffs yield opportunities

At TalentWoo, the paradigm is shifted in seeing layoffs as areas of opportunity rather than a dry recitation of numbers representing jobless people. “We’re like ‘oh good, more layoffs because we need people. It’s been hard to find people and find people who want to work,” Cain said.

Rogers (pictured below) noted the breadth of work that goes into placement: “We network with real estate and mortgage professional all day, every day,” he said. “We can post a job and have 100 candidates in a day,” he added to illustrate the level of volume received from a single post.

Yet recruitment remains laborious, which may call for more direct – yet appropriately discreet – contact, he suggested: “If I’m hiring a type of role, we know how to reach out, identify and engage with mortgage and real estate professionals so we can have that conversation. One great way to find a candidate – and it always has been – is to talk to somebody in that role. So whether they are qualified or not, they usually know two or three others in that role.”

Mortgage layoffs have been sizable

Virtually a who’s who of the mortgage industry has laid off sizable numbers of employees since the onset of inflation last year, as seen in a compilation by BeSmartee. Wells Fargo – one of the nation’s largest banks – began laying off people at its home lending section last year. Cuts announced at the end of the first quarter last year followed a 33% drop in its mortgage revenue amid higher interest rates. And who can forget the layoffs conducted via Zoom at The total number of layoffs remains unclear, but known to be in the thousands of employees. NewRez LLC was ahead of the curve in the layoffs trend, cutting roughly 3% of its workforce after the acquisition of Caliber Homes in late 2021.

Continuing the trend, direct-to-consumer lender Owning Corp. cut nearly 200 jobs once it was acquired by Guaranteed Rate. Stearns Lending was alsopurchased by Guaranteed Rate, prompting the layoffs of nearly 350 workers in the early part of January 2021 after the acquiring firm opted to shed its third-party wholesale division. Most affected by the layoffs were mortgage specialists, mortgage consultants, underwriters and senior executives. Redfin, in turn, laid off more than 120 workers after its acquisition of Bay Equity Home Loans.

Mr. Cooper wasn’t immune from market shifts, prompting employee cuts. Also affected was Pennymac, which shed 236 workers in March and another 239 in July. All told, the company cut 474 jobs in the first half of 2022 alone. Tomo cut 44 jobs – representing a third of the small company’s total workforce – in May. USAA Bank reportedly shed more than 90 employees as potential homeowners wait on the sidelines for the market to shake out before pursuing purchases.

Several nonbank lenders has also followed the trend:

  • loanDepot laid off 4,800 people, or 42% of its workforce, in July.
  • Fairway Independent Mortgage made cuts in its retail and wholesale divisions.
  • Interfirst Mortgage has laid off a total of 491 people this year in two separate rounds.
  • Movement Mortgage laid off 170 workers, chiefly in the closing, processing and underwriting departments.
  • Union Home Mortgage, like many other companies, laid off an unknown number of employees ranging from junior loan officers to senior positions last April. 
  • And Interactive Mortgage laid off 51 of its workers in the early part of last year.