Even as it continues to staff up to meet surging demand for refinancings, Bank of America (BAC)is laying the groundwork for a return to traditional mortgage lending when the refi boom ends. Matt Vernon, B of A’s top mortgage lending executive, says the company has hired roughly 1,000 mortgage specialists so far this year to keep pace with refi demand, which he expects to remain strong through most of next year due to low interest rates, the Federal Reserve’s latest round of quantitative easing, and a government program that allows “underwater” homeowners with high loan-to-value ratios to refinance.
At the same time, Vernon is looking ahead to 2014 and beyond, when purchases are likely to drive mortgage lending activity. Key to keeping the momentum going, he says, will be convincing more of its 58 million of its retail customers to get their mortgage through B of A – a strategy that is not as simple as it seems. After a major management shake-up last year that realigned the bank around a “customer-centered” approach, Vernon admits that its cross-selling initiative is still a work in progress.