Even in the face of a disastrous dip in new home sales in May (down 30%), many banks have hit the restart button on their mortgage lending operation.

JP Morgan Chase has announced that it will hire 1,200 new mortgage officers for what it anticipates will be a greater need in the not-so-distant future. Citizens Bank, which is owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland and operates in 12 states, is hiring an additional 400 loan officers over the next two years.

Chase said that it is locating new loan officers in the former Washington Mutual branches it acquired in 2008 and also plans to expand its lending operations to other cities it does not currently serve. Chase says its research shows that branch-based mortgages are less likely to default, so it is shifting to a branch-based lending strategy.

According to forecasts by the Mortgage Bankers Association, home loans for new purchases are expected to increase steadily over the next two years to $916 billion, from an expected $725 billion this year. However, MBA forecasters say that refinanced loans will drop from $717 billion this year to $474 billion in 2012.

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