Area lenders bank on hiring more mortgage loan officers

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Increased demand for housing and a new crop of home buyers entering the market are two factors leading area lenders to hire more mortgage loan officers.

If you are buying a home, chances are you need a mortgage to do it.

If you are buying a home, chances are you need a mortgage to do it.

With renewed vigor in home buying and in anticipation of continued trends toward healthier residential real estate markets, area lenders are beefing up their loan departments to better serve mortgage consumers.

Increasing demand for housing, a new crop of home buyers entering the market for the first time and changes in mortgages since the economy tanked in 2008 are all factors spurring the hiring of mortgage loan officers.

“Customer expectations are increasing, and the lending environment demands transparency, speed and simplicity,” said Kevin Gillen, executive vice president and general manager for mortgage for TD Bank. The Cherry Hill, N.J.-based bank has several Lehigh Valley branches.

Gillen, who works in the Florida market, said this year TD Bank began 2016 with 100 loan officers and expects to increase hires to 180 “from Maine to Florida,” by the end of the year.

A mortgage loan officer is responsible for cultivating business contacts, increasing lending portfolios, prospecting for mortgage loan customers, completing loan processing and supervising department staff.

TD bank launched a new 4:1 model where “for every four branches we have one mortgage loan officer,” Gillen said. The goal is to increase mortgage loans and better serve customers, Gillen said.

Plans to roll out the new model are in place for New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with Lehigh Valley branches starting the program on July 6.

Gillen said consumer expectations are part of the driving force behind new hires. “We have 54 [mortgage] products and it is not just about going online and picking one,” Gillen said. Having an experienced loan officer to help guide customers is important to understanding each applicant’s needs and situation, he added.

Mortgages often involve a longer sales cycle because a lot of information must be gathered to complete and process the applications, Gillen said.

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