Realty Check

Countrywide: Fewer Loans, More Workers?

CFO David Sambol

I was reading some wire copy on Countrywide this morning, and it left me scratching my head. The company reports that foreclosures and delinquencies among home loans that Countrywide services rose in July to their highest level in several years... delinquencies up a full percentage point and foreclosures up a half point. The company reports it made 14% fewer home loans in July than in June and applications fell 15% to a nine-month low.

The CFO of Countrywide, David Sambol, blames the drop in business on tighter lending standards, and coincidentally I received a memo yesterday from a mortgage broker I know. It's from Countrywide:

"Due to ongoing changes in the market, Countrywide, America's Wholesale Lender, is introducing an entirely new set of lending guidelines effective immediately."

Under the "all new" parameters category: Non-Conforming Programs, PayOption ARMs, Fixed Rate Second/HELOC. All effective ASAP.

But on top of this, Countrywide announces that it added 1,159 jobs in July. Hmmm. I see this as I recall the video not two weeks ago of all those American Home Mortgage former employees carrying their cardboard boxes out of the building. I know Countrywide is not in dire straits (at least that's what they say), but wouldn't you think these folks might want to tighten up a bit in these tight times?

Questions?  Comments?