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November 19th, 2009

Looking for a Job — Have You Tried Modifying Mortgages?

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While initial unemployment claims were technically “flat” last week, the number was still over 500,000 — a level the unemployment indicator has remained at for 53 straight weeks. Despite any improvements we’ve seen in the economy, it appears as though employers just aren’t hiring…outside the mortgage industry that is.

With current lending requirements being as strict as they are, mortgage companies aren’t looking for more mortgage originators necessarily, they’re hiring workers to restructure troubled mortgages:

Mortgage restructuring for strapped homeowners has emerged as a rare growth area in the economy as companies in the field keep hiring.

Four of the largest mortgages servicers — Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. — have collectively hired almost 17,000 people this year, mostly to work with financially ailing homeowners. With the number of defaults rising, many are planning to keep adding staff.

It’s certainly unfortunate that a growing portion of homeowners can’t seem to dig themselves out from under the housing mess. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported today that 14.4% of first-lein mortgages are either at least 30 days delinquent or have entered into foreclosure — the highest percenatage since the MBA began the data series. The glut of failing loans has provided one refuge for job-seeking Americans.

If existing lenders aren’t doing the hiring themselves, new, independent companies are spawning in order to capitalize on this growing need. Perhaps the best news for job seekers is that these positions don’t appear to be restricted to those with extensive financial experience:

Loan-servicing companies report that people with a wide variety of backgrounds are applying for the jobs, from rental-car service representatives to former chief executives of small mortgage brokerages that went under.

One of J.P. Morgan Chase’s best loan modifiers is a former police officer from Jacksonville, Fla., said Mr. Kelly, the spokesman. “She’s terrific on the phone with customers because she knows how to calm people down,” [J.P. Morgan Chase spokesman Thomas] Kelly said.

New companies formed in response to the home-mortgage crisis also have been hiring. For example, Private National Mortgage Acceptance Co., dubbed PennyMac, was founded in 2008 by former executives of Countrywide Financial Corp. and now employs about 120 people.

Who would have thought that the housing crisis would spark one of the best opportunities for job seekers?

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About the HSH Blog

HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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