WASHINGTON — At the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) National Secondary Conference & Expo third general session held here this week, the focus turned to coping with the post refinance boom environment.

While volume is not exactly in a downward spiral, lenders described it as “going down, up, down.”

The challenge is to create a working balance between permanent — employees who sometimes have to put in extra hours — and contract or temporary workers, who pick up the slack when things are heated.

Robert Broeksmit, president and chief operating officer of B.F. Saul Mortgage Company, said that at a certain point his firm realized it had too few permanents and were overpaying temps. At that point B.F. Saul had to view the situation as balancing variable costs and fixed costs. The firm’s robust business was more sustainable than executives had initially thought.

Diminishing volumes are not as much of an issue in the non-prime sector. Steve Nadon, chief operating officer at Option One Mortgage Corp., said that his firm hasn’t had to layoff any of its staff yet.

“The pressure is just on the margins,” he said. “Our volumes are just going to continue to grow.”

He added that rising interest rates might actually be beneficial for Option One because “we have more flexibility in what we do.”

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