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Mortgage lenders expand operations during COVID-19 pandemic

Companies hire more workers, add branches

Amid waves of coronavirus-related layoffs and staggering unemployment numbers, two mortgage lenders announced expanded operations on Monday.

Better.com, which reported a 200% increase in applications since March 1, plans to hire 150 people per month in sales and mortgage operations and reach a total of 1,000 new employees this year. The company’s optimism stems from what it sees as a competitive edge: its digital-first platform allowing applicants to lock in rates virtually instantly, versus long wait times by phone with traditional bank lenders, a company spokeswoman said. Eighty-two percent of potential borrowers on Better.com don’t speak with a loan officer while completing their application.

The e-lender’s hiring pledge is particularly targeted at laid-off hospitality workers in New York, Charlotte and Orange County, Calif. (with the potential for remote positions, as well), citing the “consumer-centric mindset” required in both the hospitality and loan origination industries.

“All of the skills that make people in hospitality amazing, those are all attributes we want” in the company, said the spokeswoman, adding open positions are “on the front line” as customer-facing sales associates and operations associates.

Homespire Mortgage, a national residential mortgage lender in 34 states, announced new branches in Atlanta; Baton Rouge and Shreveport, La.; and Westborough, Mass.

“In competitive markets like Georgia, Louisiana and Massachusetts, it’s so important for borrowers to work with lenders who not only understand the local community, but are willing to take the time to guide and ensure they make the best decisions possible when fulfilling their dreams of homeownership,” Michael Rappaport, president of Homespire Mortgage, said in a statement Monday. The company is an approved Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac seller and servicer.

These expansions come on the heels of a dire past week for employment. A record-breaking 3.28 million people filed for unemployment for the week ending March 21, 2020, the Department of Labor reported last Thursday. That’s five times the peak during the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

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