St. Petersburg’s BayFirst Financial is closing a Clearwater office and laying off 58 employees due to declining interest in residential mortgage.
The company, which in May adopted the BayFirst name to replace its First Home Bank brand, said in a letter to the state that the cuts were due to “the uncertainty of the outlook of mortgage lending.” The cuts will be final by Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving.
The news is not unexpected, as BayFirst last week announced it was shuttering its network of residential loan offices, which were not providing enough return on investment, and refocusing its business on U.S. Small Business Administration loans. For the first six months of 2022, the bank originated $641.1 million in residential loans, down from $1.24 billion during the same period in 2021.
BayFirst had already restructured its residential mortgage division this spring, resulting in three office closures, including one in Tampa. That resulted in the company cutting 65 jobs.
“This decision allows the bank to focus our resources on building a premier community banking franchise and capitalizing on our expertise in SBA lending,” CEO Anthony Leo said in a statement.
BayFirst recently opened a new bank in Bradenton and said it was hiring in its small business lending divisions.