Ohio-based mortgage lender Lower imposed a round of layoffs last week due to market conditions, affecting 6% of its workforce, according to a spokesperson for the company.
“We’ve right-sized areas of our business impacted the most by this volatile market, such as refinance, operations, training, and recruiting,” Lindsey LeBerth, the company’s director of communications, wrote in an email to HousingWire. “In addition, we’ve restructured some sales positions to further tighten our focus on a purchase-centric strategy.”
With the job cuts, Lower has now 1,200 workers across all its businesses, including retail, mortgage as a service, wholesale and its direct-to-consumer arm called Lower.com.
“While we’re hopeful to see the market turn, we’re closely monitoring the Federal Reserve’s activity and have made the changes we feel will weather the upcoming rate hikes,” LeBerth wrote.
The Fed has increased the federal funds rate by 300 basis points so far this year to control surging inflation, resulting in a “reset” of the mortgage market. Another 125 basis points in hikes are still expected to come in 2022, with a federal funds rate topping out well above 4%.
Amid the landscape, Lower, according to LeBerth, “continues to invest in technology to build the most modern home finance solution for our channels, and despite the headwinds, we’ve increased market share 25% year-over-year.”
Meeting the needs of a new generation of homebuyers while managing the ebbs and flows of a volatile housing market is a major endeavor for any mortgage lender. So, what should lenders be doing to thrive in the face of a post-pandemic housing market rife with new hurdles?
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Lower claims its platform allows distributed retail partners to connect into its infrastructure to benefit from its streamlined technology.
In August, Lower announced that Honor Home Loans, founded by U.S. Army veteran Derek Vandlen and with branches in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama, would be joining its retail operation. Joining Vandlen were more than 60 workers.
Florida-based Hamilton Home Loans, with 500 workers, turned into a division of Lower in June. The company had branches in Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Virginia, and Nevada. Hamilton’s president and CEO Pat Sheehy became managing director, overseeing strategy and day-to-day operations of the division.
According to the mortgage data platform Modex, Lower originated a total volume of $5.66 billion in the last 12 months through 562 active loan officers and 89 branches – around 70% of the volume consisted of conventional loans and 51% was refinancing.