Interfirst Mortgage to lay off nearly 50 LOs

Interfirst Mortgage to lay off nearly 50 LOs
Chicago-based Interfirst Mortgage Co. will lay off 77 employees in its Charlotte, North Carolina office come January 2022, a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) notice filed by the company reveals.

Among those getting a pink slip are 49 loan officers, 10 national account managers, seven retail sales managers and seven transaction coordinators. The company provided no explanation for the upcoming terminations. It did not respond to requests for comment left by HousingWire.

Just shy of a year ago, Interfirst announced that it would be opening an office in Charlotte to serve as a second headquarters for the company’s wholesale business. To run the hub, the company hired Casey Nunn, a former Rocket Mortgage and Homepoint executive, as the vice president of wholesale lending.

At the time, Mark Freedle, executive vice president of production at Interfirst, said in a statement that the company’s “broker-centric approach offers the technology, competitive products, pricing and service to help our broker partners build and grow successful.”

Interfirst was founded in 2001 as a retail originator and then expanded to the wholesale channel and the correspondent channel in 2008 and 2011, respectively. In 2017, after years of plummeting volumes, the company, led by CEO Dmitry Godin, decided to shutter its business, only to relaunch in 2020.

In returning from its three-year hiatus, Interfirst said it had reinvented itself as a tech-forward mortgage lender. It said it developed its own proprietary loan origination platform that applied artificial intelligence to the loan process, which allowed Interfirst to eliminate upfront fees and cut interest rates.

In October, Interfirst’s tech-forward approach helped the company secure $175 million in funding to accelerate growth and fund new technologies.

One of the company’s investors, Al Goldstein, CEO of StoicLane, said in October that “the mortgage industry is fragmented and ripe for disruption by tech-enabled, customer-centric platforms.”

Layoffs at the Charlotte office will commence the week of Jan. 21, 2022, but before then, the company will provide notice to each affected employee and will ensure that “employees who are laid off are paid all earned wages and agreed upon benefits at the time of termination,” the company said in a letter filed with the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Only seven states have WARN requirements in the nation.

Meanwhile, in an interview with HousingWire in August, Dhaval Patel, senior VP at Interfirst, said the company was recruiting former teachers and first responders to become in-house LOs following a seven-week training and licensing course. Interfirst, which claimed to have originated $1.65 billion in volume between June 2020 and June 2021, pays new LOs between $44,000 and $68,000 annually, which is based on base salary and quarterly performance-based bonuses. 

“I feel that we do a good job in maintaining our processes, and make sure that we’re sensible in how we pay,” Patel told HousingWire in August. “Our loan officers, our team, they know that they can probably make more money somewhere else, but they’re gonna take it from someone, and it’s not going to be the company. They’re taking it from the customer. So you have to really decide that the work that you’re doing is worth more before you go out there and try to take more money.” 
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