JPMorgan to hire 1,200 mortgage officers for housing recovery

NEW YORK: JPMorgan Chase & Co, the third- largest home lender in the US, said it plans to hire 1,200 mortgage officers to prepare for a recovery in the housing market.

The new employees, representing a 60% increase in the lender’s sales force, will be at branches in 23 states, including California, Florida and Texas. The hires will also serve customers outside the bank’s branch network in areas such as Washington, Boston and St Louis, New York-based JPMorgan said on Nov 10 in a statement.

“We see the mortgage business as core to our relationship with consumers and expect to be a major leader in the industry for many years to come,” Dave Lowman, chief executive of the bank’s mortgage unit, said in the statement. The move is aimed at ensuring each branch “is well positioned when the housing market fully recovers”.

Lowman said last month at a Mortgage Bankers Association conference in San Diego that banks haven’t seen the peak of foreclosures, which could challenge lenders for “some time to come”. When “rates ultimately rise,” he added, “that’s going to put tremendous strain on the origination side of the business”.

JPMorgan originated US$119.8 billion (RM405.76 billion) of mortgages in the first nine months of the year, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a Bethesda, Maryland-based newsletter that has covered the industry since 1984. That represents 8.5% of the market, trailing Wells Fargo & Co, the nation’s largest home lender, and Bank of America Corp.

President Barack Obama last week signed into law a bill extending the US$8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers until April 30. The credit would have expired at the end of this month. Mortgage applications in the US rose 8.2% for the week ending Oct 30, the first increase in a month.

US home sales increased 11% to a two-year high in the third quarter as the tax credit boosted demand, the National Association of Realtors said on Nov 10. The median price of an existing single-family house fell 11% from a year earlier to US$177,900, the Chicago-based trade group said. Sales of existing homes for 2009 probably will total 4.98 million, up from 4.91 million in 2008, according to the Realtors’ forecast. – Bloomberg LP
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