Live Well Financial Inc., the once fast-growing mortgage lender and servicer, is ceasing operations because of what it calls “sudden and unexpected developments.”
The Chesterfield County-based company said on its website that “due to unexpected circumstances, as of May 3, 2019, Live Well Financial Inc. will cease to originate mortgage loans.”
The company also filed a notice with Virginia employment officials that Live Well Financial is laying off 103 employees, most of them working at its corporate headquarters in the Boulders office park in Chesterfield.
The layoffs included Michael C. Hild, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, according to the letter to the state detailing the layoffs. The last day for the employees was May 3, or within 14 days, the notice said.
Live Well Financial’s traditional and reverse mortgage loan business requires significant liquidity to operate.
“Due to sudden and unexpected developments in the markets for certain financial assets the company uses as collateral for certain credit facilities that provide this liquidity, these lenders have reduced significantly the amount of liquidity they make available to the company,” Paula Foster, Live Well Financial’s vice president, controller and human resources director, wrote in a letter to the state.
“This reduction in credit availability combined with challenging conditions in the markets for mortgage loans, which were conditions outside of the company’s control, along with related regulatory issues, have resulted in the company having insufficient available cash to continue operations,” she wrote.
“Despite the company’s exercise of commercially reasonable business judgment, it could not reasonably foresee these circumstances and therefore was unable to provide 60 or more days notice of the closing and related layoffs.”
Foster, when reached by telephone, declined further comment.
The letter said the closing and relating layoffs will be permanent, affecting the entire Chesterfield operation as well as other company offices outside of Virginia.
The notice didn’t say how many employees worked at other locations or where those locations are.
At one time, the company had a call center with hundreds of employees in San Diego and a servicing office in Lansing, Mich. It also operated a call center in the Arboretum office complex in Chesterfield.
It is unclear what developments took place that forced Live Well Financial to shut down.
Hild started Live Well Financial on April 1, 2005, and had expanded the company to become a specialized national lender, originating and serving more than $2 billion in mortgage loans in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Hild did not return repeated phone calls and emails seeking comment.
The reverse mortgage business in the U.S. suffered in 2018, recording the lowest volume since 2005, according to online trade publication Reverse Mortgage Daily. Live Well Financial has been among the top reverse mortgage lenders by volume, the publication said.
In December, Reverse Mortgage Daily reported that Live Well Financial sold the majority of its home equity conversion mortgage-backed securities portfolio — $4 billion worth — to Reverse Mortgage Funding LLC. The online publication reported that a Live Well Financial executive vice president said at the time that the company would continue to actively trade both traditional and reverse mortgages and mortgage-backed bonds.
Hild had said in a 2014 interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he saw a huge business opportunity in selling reverse mortgages with the aging demographics of baby boomers as they retire or near retirement. A reverse mortgage is a government-backed loan that provides payments to homeowners based on the equity in the homes and the age of the borrower.
While Hild ran Live Well Financial, he and his wife, Laura Dyer Hild, also have amassed nearly three dozen properties in Richmond’s Manchester, Blackwell and Swansboro neighborhoods in recent years with plans of redeveloping those properties.
Through their Church Hill Ventures LLC, the couple have opened Hot Diggity Donuts and The Butterbean Market & Café, both on Hull Street. In the same block is their Dogtown Brewing Co. brewery and restaurant slated to open this year.
Hild also owns Anderson’s Neck Oysters, an oyster farm along the York River in King and Queen County.