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BayFirst Financial to shutter Clearwater hub

Veronica Brezina



The BayFirst Financial Residential Mortgage Division at 2520 Countryside Blvd., Clearwater. GoogleMaps.

St. Petersburg-based BayFirst Financial Corp. will permanently close its Clearwater office. 

The independent bank filed a notice to the state indicating it will close its Residential Mortgage Division at 2520 Countryside Blvd. Nov. 25. The company will cut 58 local workers as a result of the closure. 

“As previously announced, due to the continuing decline of mortgage volumes leading to continued division losses, along with the uncertainty of the outlook of mortgage lending in the near to mid-term, the Board of Directors of BayFirst Financial has made the extremely difficult to discontinue our nationwide network of LPOs,” a Sept. 23-dated letter sent by BayFirst’s human resources director read, explaining the division’s closure. 

The 58 employees who will be affected by the closure include those working as underwriters, loan processors, administrators, managers, specialists and analysts. Over half of the 58 employees work remotely outside of Tampa Bay, according to a BayFirst spokesperson. 

The Clearwater location served as the headquarters for the residential mortgage operations, which supported the nationwide residential lending teams. BayFirst will continue to originate residential loans in the Tampa Bay markets it serve, a spokesperson said. 

The notification letter was submitted one day after BayFirst Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: BAFN), parent company of BayFirst National Bank, announced the discontinuation of its nationwide network of residential mortgage loan production offices. 

BayFirst Financial CEO Anthony Leo said by halting the mortgage lending network, it will allow the bank to focus resources on its core banking business and other main division, SBA lending. As of Sept. 22, BayFirst Financial had approved 906 SBA loans totaling $308.8 million. 

The company estimates the after-tax expense associated with discontinuing this line of business will range between $3 million-$4 million, depending upon multiple factors, according to Leo. 

The CEO also stated last week that the company opened its eighth banking center in West Bradenton and will continue to expand its network of bank offices throughout Tampa Bay.

Earlier this year, BayFirst Financial restructured its residential mortgage division by discontinuing its primary consumer direct residential mortgage business line. The restructuring was undertaken in response to reduced volume due to a lack of demand for refinancing. 

That restructuring resulted in the closure of loan production offices in Overland Park, Kansas, New Albany, Ohio and Tampa, according to SEC documents. 

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