Sun Bancorp (SNBC) has more than doubled the size of its New Jersey home mortgage team by hiring 50 former MetLife (MET) employees for its residential lending division.

Half of the new hires are loan officers while the remaining additions are support services employees, the $3.1 billion-asset company said Thursday. The teams will be based in Florham Park, N.J., to serve the central and northern parts of the state and in Turnersville, N.J., to reach customers in southern New Jersey.

MetLife said in January that it had shut down its mortgage origination business and let go most of its 4,300 workers after the insurance giant could not find a buyer for the unit.

Since then banks have hired large groups of the former MetLife employees to help grow their own mortgage businesses. HomeStreet (HMST) in Seattle added 160 former MetLife mortgage professionals in three Pacific Northwest states hile Provident Financial Holdings (PROV) in Riverside, Calif., picked up 40 employees to run three new retail mortgage loan production offices.

The latest hires were announced a day after Sun Bancorp, based in Vineland, N.J., reported that ongoing problems with its loan portfolio caused a larger-than-expected first-quarter loss. Sun Bancorp said that it lost $28.1 million as nonperforming loans rose more than 6% and its loan-loss provision more than quadrupled.

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