Becky Yerak
August 8, 2008

Wachovia Corp. will cease mortgage origination in its branches in Illinois as well as 18 other states, a spokesman confirmed Thursday.

About 125 workers, including 20 in Illinois, will be affected.

Wachovia’s eight retail branches in Illinois will remain open and continue to offer traditional banking services. They will still sell products such as home-equity loans, but consumers interested in first mortgages will have to go through Wachovia’s direct lending channels, namely phone, Internet and direct mail.

"We’re not going to have any Wachovia mortgage-branded, face-to-face sales staff in those states," the spokesman said.

The move by the Charlotte-based bank, which has $812 billion in assets, comes after a review over the past several months of its mortgage operations due to the housing crisis. Wachovia, under financial pressure like other banks, wants to focus its mortgage operations where it has a meaningful branch presence. The change in Illinois is effective Sept. 30.

Wachovia ranked 84th among mortgage lenders in the Chicago metropolitan statistical area by number of loans, housing tracker Woodstock Institute estimates.

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