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Dwindling demand: Wells Fargo lays off 1,900 mortgage workers

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Wells Fargo (WFC) laid off 1,900 employees from its mortgage division as housing demand fell, the bank said Thursday. Wells is the largest mortgage lender in the country, but in the fourth quarter, home loan applications fell to $158 billion, down 19.4% from the previous quarter. The layoffs began two weeks ago and occurred in various locations across the country. "We worked with all of them to explore other opportunities in other parts of the company," a bank spokesperson said. A majority of those laid off were told when they were hired that their positions were for the short-term to assist with loan application volumes. But there were some longer-term employees let go, as well. Each was given a 60-day notice, the spokesman confirmed. But the grim times may not last too much longer. According to a study from Wells released last week, a large number of Millennials, those aged between 19 and 30 are entering prime first-time homebuyer age. Bank researchers said these potential homebuyers outnumbered baby boomers by almost 6 million when that generation was hitting its pinnacle homebuying age in 1977. But for now the pain continues to be felt. Fannie Mae recently said mortgage applications fell 7.9% in January and another 3.3% in February. Throughout the spring, usually, the prime buying season, sales are expected to remain soft. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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