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2 Keys to Mortgage Lending Success in 2016.

Byline: Bob Dorsa

Mortgage lending can be the key to your credit union's growth in the future. Opportunities abound for credit unions, individually and cooperatively. By securing a member with a mortgage loan, you have many chances to offer them other products and services, as well as helping them achieve the American dream of home ownership.

I have no doubt this is not new information for you -- you've heard it around. But let's talk more specifically about this New Year.

To succeed in the mortgage lending business in 2016, I believe credit unions must take two basic actions. First, they must develop strategies to deal with purchase money loans. And second, they must find ways to work collaboratively. (While this message is aimed primarily at credit unions with mortgage programs, there is no good reason to not consider starting your own program -- alone or with partners -- if you want to grow your business.)

As refinancing fades, purchase money loans should be front-of-mind for 2016. That means, to a much greater extent than in recent years, dealing with first-time homebuyers.

We all know mortgage lending rules have been tightened, but as you build your strategy you can still offer a variety of products that will appeal to your members -- and attract their business. Your advantage as a credit union is knowing what your members want and need. The big banks don't. That gives you an advantage. Toot your horn; get the word out. Then deliver for your members.

With credit unions near topping 10% market share for new mortgage loans, we also know people trust us to do the right thing -- offer affordable loan products based on each potential customer's individual financial situation. Keeping that trust continues to play an increasingly important role in lending.

Besides the purchase money strategy, I firmly believe credit unions must do a better job of working collaboratively. For instance, I have had the opportunity to talk with dozens of Realtors while representing America's credit unions at the National Association of Realtors conference over the past few years. The question that kept popping up was: How are credit unions different than other financial institutions?

Their perceptions of credit unions are familiar but disconcerting: Only certain people can join. Credit unions are not well-versed in complex transactions such as housing finance, securities and insurance. Their availability for service is limited to nine-to-five Monday to Friday.

Many advantages exist for Realtors to work with credit unions, but those relationships will never develop if credit unions do not first reach out to Realtors in the local community to dispel these perceived inadequacies. Consider establishing relationships with local Realtors, assuring them that working together is in the best interests of both:

* Tell the Realtor of your passion to serve people who live and work in your community. It's how they work, too. Then-NAR President Steve Brown, speaking at a recent ACUMA Annual Conference, noted that Realtors and credit unions strengthen the communities they share. To me, that is among the strongest arguments you can make in your conversation.

* Communicate your policies for working with Realtors. Tell them which methods you employ for communication. Share your loan process and, hopefully, other Realtors you have worked with. If you are willing to refer some of your members to the Realtors, mention it. All of these actions build trust.

* Work hard to collect testimonials from homebuyers and other Realtors. Display them on your website and make them available to Realtor prospects.

Like credit union lenders, Realtors want to make the dream of homeownership come true for their clients. Of course the Realtor benefits; so does the credit union as the lender. But Realtors and credit unions approach it locally -- where they know the people, the economy and therefore, the people's needs.

There are many other examples or working collaboratively. It might be partnering with another credit union or joining a mortgage CUSO, for example. At ACUMA, we explore these ideas in workshops and conferences. Feel free to contact me to learn more.

Bob Dorsa is president of the American Credit Union Mortgage Association. He can be reached at 877-442-2862
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Copyright 2016 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Credit Union Times
Date:Jan 19, 2016
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