Published in Finance

Amerifirst Home Mortgage to lay off 59 people in early 2023

BY Monday, December 19, 2022 04:17pm

PORTAGE — Amerifirst Home Mortgage plans layoffs at its Portage office early next year, citing reduced demand for home mortgages resulting from rising interest rates.

The company is permanently laying off 59 people whose employment will end Feb. 12, 2023, according to a notice Amerifirst Home Mortgage submitted to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the City of Portage under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

“Rising interest rates have impacted the nation’s home mortgage industry including Amerifirst. Unfortunately, the resulting slowdown forced our company to scale back operations and reduce our workforce,” CEO Mark Jones said in a statement to MiBiz. “Although we are saddened to reduce our operational footprint, we are continuing to originate and service loans from our Portage and other Amerifirst branch offices.”

Portage-based Amerifirst’s website lists branches in 19 states. In addition to the Portage office at 950 Trade Centre Way, Michigan branches include locations in Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Brighton, Cadillac, Chesterfield, Coldwater, Gaylord. Greenville, Hastings, Kalamazoo, Port Huron and Reed City.

Nationally and across the state, rising interest rates over the last year or more have slowed home sales, resulting in lower demand for mortgages.

In September, home sales in the Kalamazoo area were down 17.3 percent from a year earlier, according to the most recent data posted to the Michigan Association of Realtors’ website. Year-to-date sales in the Kalamazoo area declined 5.75 percent.

Across the U.S., the National Association of Realtors reports that home sales declined by 4.6 percent in October from a year earlier, the fifth straight month for a decline. Year-over-year pending home sales were down 37 percent, according to the association.

“October was a difficult month for home buyers as they faced 20-year-high mortgage rates," NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a recent monthly report on home sales. “The upcoming months should see a return of buyers, as mortgage rates appear to have already peaked and have been coming down since mid-November.”

An 2023 outlook NAR issued last week projects home sales nationwide to decline 6.8 percent from this year, to 4.78 million from an estimated 5.13 million.

Since the start of 2022, rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages nationally have increased from 3.9 percent in the first quarter to 6.6 percent as of the fourth quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Fixed-rate mortgages last year averaged 3.2 percent.

The association projects 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages to dip to 6.2 percent in the first quarter of 2023, then decline to 5.2 percent by the fourth quarter of 2023 and 4.4 percent by the end of 2024.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Amerifirst was planning to close its Portage office. The company is laying off 59 people at the location, but will keep it open. 

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