Wednesday, March 13, 2013

BofA lays off property appraisers

Perhaps the property rebound, a la Housing Bubble 2.0, isn't so strong after all, given that interest rates have been rising and job growth is not booming yet.  Bloomberg reports (LINK, bold emphasis added):


Bank of America Corp., the second- largest U.S. lender, cut about 5 percent of staff in its appraisal unit last month as the firm rid itself of delinquent mortgages, said two people with knowledge of the move.

The job reductions at LandSafe, a business with more than 1,000 employees and acquired in the takeover of Countrywide Financial Corp., began Feb. 22, said the people, who requested anonymity because the dismissals were private. Appraisers, who estimate the market value of properties, and regional managers were cut, Tracy Sanderson, a LandSafe senior vice president, told staff in a Feb. 25 e-mail.
“While we have known we were overstaffed since the fall, we did everything we could to delay impacts as long as possible,” Sanderson said in the memo obtained by Bloomberg News. “We were hopeful that our volume would return and potentially reduce the number impacted.”...
About 70 percent of work done by LandSafe appraisers was related to transactions for soured loans, including the auction of bank-owned properties and short sales in which a borrower’s home is sold for less than the amount owed, said one of the people. The bank’s expected increase in originations this year isn’t enough to offset the drop in work resulting from having fewer delinquent loans to service, the person said.

The rest of the article discusses, among other things, declining mortgage volumes for the industry as a whole, which lately have mostly been refis rather than new loans.

This is not a disaster per se, but given the bullish action in bank and homebuilder stocks, it makes me wonder if the Street is not ahead of itself on this theme.

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