TD Bank plans to hire 87 employees within its mortgage operations to accommodate lending demand from Maine to Florida. About 50 of the positions will be in Lexington, S.C., while the other 37 jobs will be scattered throughout the East Coast. TD Bank has two American headquarters: one in Portland, Maine, and another in Cherry Hill, N.J. The new positions deal with all aspects of mortgage operations, including loan processing, appraisals, underwriting and customer care. Mike Copley, who leads retail lending products at TD Bank, said the firm saw "a robust pick-up in the first-time homebuyer market" in recent months. "We were very happy with our first-time homebuyers. That (pick-up) told us that there are people in the marketplace to buy homes, and the first-time homebuyer is doing their research and taking their time to buy a first home." He said TD Bank's unique position as a portfolio lender has helped the firm maintain a steady flow of business throughout the recession and slow recovery. "I think it has a lot to do with our value proposition. We really do offer simple products that are easy to understand," Copley said. Because everything stays in TD Bank's portfolio, the company's loan level pricing is more favorable since the bank does not deal with guarantee fees or loan level pricing adjustments that inevitably come into play when loans are sold off into the secondary market. "The third element is we are one of the few triple-A rated banks in the world," Copley said. "We have not experienced the significant decline in our mortgage portfolio performance that some of our competition has had, and we have not been involved in any of the foreclosure debacles." TD Bank is a subsidiary of Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD). Write to Kerri Panchuk.