Chase, the personal banking unit of JP Morgan Chase (JPM) announced plans to hire an additional 1,200 mortgage loan officers by the end of 2010, a 60% increase in its origination and refinance officer work force. The bank’s mortgage operation serves customers in 23 states, including California, Florida and Texas and metro areas like New York and Chicago. “We have made a number of strategic investments in our organization,” said Dave Lowman, head of home lending at Chase. “We have invested in new systems, aggressively grown our capacity and now are looking to increase our sales force” Chase is the nation's third-largest lender, originating $37.1bn in mortgages in Q309. The bank touted a banking branch near 43% of US households and near 55% of the nation's real estate offices. “With nearly 5,200 bank branches -- one of the largest networks in the country — we need to ensure each branch has seasoned mortgage professionals to help meet the needs of their communities and is well positioned when the housing market fully recovers,” said Lowman. Write to Austin Kilgore.