Bank of America to exit broker-led mortgage business, may lend directly

Mumbai: Bank of America Corp, the second-largest US bank, will stop offering home mortgages through brokers and may focus on lending directly to consumers.

The plan, to be implemented by the end of the year, is expected to result in a loss of 700 jobs. This will form part of the 3,000 jobs the bank plans to eliminate, after investment banking losses led to a larger-than-expected 32 per cent drop in quarterly profit, the bank said.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said the cuts would affect about 5 per cent of its 13,000 employees in consumer real estate.

"We believe our long-term opportunity lies in maximising our more competitive retail channels," Floyd Robinson, head of the bank''s consumer real estate operations, said in a statement.

Bank of America will route mortgage loans through its 5,748 branches that employ about 10,000 personal. The bank also has 2,200 mortgage loan officers in 33 US states and Washington, DC.

Other mortgage lenders have this year also reduced their reliance on brokers, including Wells Fargo & Co, Washington Mutual Inc and Wachovia Corp.

Bank of America made $95 billion of mortgage loans from January to June, ranking fifth nation-wide. Since May, it generated more than $50 billion of applications from a "no-fee" product under which homebuyers aren''t charged for such things as applications, appraisals, originations, title insurance and flood certifications, reports said.

Bank of America had in August made a $2 billion investment in Countrywide Financial Corp, in a transaction that could give it over 16 per cent stake in the largest US mortgage lender. Countrywide is expected to report a large third-quarter loss.