Stearns Lending to lay off 348 workers

Earlier this month, Guaranteed Rate said it would discontinue Stearns Wholesale Lending channel

Stearns Lending will lay off 348 workers following the decision by Guaranteed Rate earlier this month to discontinue operations of its third-party wholesale channel. A Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN), submitted to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) specifies that the layoff date will be on March 13.

HousingWire sent a message seeking comment to Guaranteed Rate, which was not returned.

Tammy Jetton, executive of human resources at Guaranteed Rate, wrote to TWC that the layoffs result from the entire Stearns Lending Wholesale division being shut down, affecting its joint ventures with other companies.

For instance, in a letter to TWC, Jetton explained that the operational unit of Stearns that supports the fintech SoFi, due to a 2016 joint venture, will be also closed, in two different phases.

“The expected date of the first separations for the SoFi Operational Unit will be January 6, 2022, and it will impact 66 employees. The second set of separations will occur on January 31, 2022, and it will impact the remaining 27 employees. A total of 93 employees will be impacted,” Jetton wrote.

SoFi hasn’t answered a request for comment.

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Stearns is headquartered in Lewisville, Texas and the state requires that under certain circumstances companies provide notice 60 days in advance of plant closures or mass layoffs.

Guaranteed Rate acquired Stearns Holding in January 2021 from the financial giant Blackstone Group, for an undisclosed sum, but announced after one year that it is closing the wholesale channel.

The last day for brokers to close a transaction is Feb. 28.

In a letter to brokers about shutting down the Stearns wholesale channel, Victor Ciardelli, Guaranteed Rate CEO, wrote that the company will have a laser focus on leveraging its “industry-leading purchase platform augmented by the best loan officers in the business.”

Founded in 2000, Guaranteed Rate sought to boost retail loan originations, scale its JV platform, and develop new multichannel capabilities by acquiring Stearns.

After the deal, HousingWire reported that Stearns’ retail operation was folded into Guaranteed Rate. Wholesale, JV and partnership businesses remained as stand-alone segments led by Stearns’ CEO David Schneider.

Stearns, founded in 1989, had a sizable partnership business, led by Steve Stein, a more limited retail operation, and a wholesale channel that was the largest in the industry as recently as 2013, but has lost market share to UWM.

Update: This story was updated on Jan. 25 with the information from letters to TWC.

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