JPMorgan Chase says it plans to hire 1,200 mortgage loan officers by the end of next year. The additions will increase the bank's sales force by 60%, the bank said in a release.
The additional staff will be located in 23 states and will help the bank go after new mortgage business and refinances. Does that mean that the housing market is finally picking up in a significant way?
You probably don't want to get too excited yet. But the housing market is showing some signs of life. Existing home sales rose 11.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.3 million in the third quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Forty-fives states saw home sales increase.
Home sales also have been helped by the tax credit for first-time home buyers. According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR:
"We can’t underestimate just how powerful a catalyst the first-time home buyer tax credit has been for the housing sector. It’s given buyers the confidence they needed to get off the fence and take advantage of extremely affordable housing conditions. The buying conditions this year are the most favorable on record dating back to 1970, but the tax credit is allowing buyers to set aside any reservations about waiting for a better deal."However, the median price of a single-family home in the U.S. fell 11.2% to $177,900, compared with a year earlier. Distressed sales and foreclosures accounted for 30% of transactions in the third quarter, dragging down the median price of a home.