Mortgage lender Total Mortgage Services is growing its product offerings for rural borrowers by employing the Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan Program into its product offerings. The program is insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is the second time in two weeks the Milford, Conn.-based lender has expressed its desire to grow its mortgage lending business at a time when activity on the origination side is still anemic and still recovering from a slowdown in demand. Total Mortgage Services said last week it plans to hire 50 retail loan officers as it grows its mortgage retail channel. The adoption of the rural housing program allows the lender to offer low and moderate-income residents living in rural areas affordable housing finance options, including instruments where no down payment is required, 30-year-fixed rates, no requirements for monthly insurance premiums and closing costs that can come in varying forms, including gifts. “The USDA home loan program is one of the most compelling mortgage products in today’s challenging mortgage marketplace and offers real solutions for rural borrowers, especially those in need of 100% financing or with lower credit scores," said John Walsh, president of Total Mortgage. "Our team of fully licensed loan officers have recently completed an extensive internal training program on USDA home loans guidelines and are ready to educate and help borrowers qualify for this money saving mortgage product.” Write to Kerri Panchuk.