Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Getting Out From Under a Stigma

We are constantly challenged as a credit union to dispel the myth that credit unions are clueless when it comes to mortgage loans. I’ve heard it’s true that for a long time credit unions did not dabble much in real estate and that it was slow going in the beginning for credit unions to earn their place within the mortgage industry. However, times have changed and credit unions now are just as savvy as any other financial institution.

Due to a few inexperienced credit unions, many realtors and builders continue to have a preconceived notion that going to a credit union for a mortgage will be more hassle than it’s worth.

Personally, I have a hard time with this. From my own experiences, I have felt the impact that this stigma can have on a potential homebuyer. When I purchased my current home, we felt the prejudice not only from our realtor, but also from our builder… and they knew I worked in the mortgage department! It made an already stressful situation even more so.

I did explore going with the builder’s preferred lender. It makes sense as a buyer to research all your options. I spoke with a representative from the lender and I wasn’t impressed. It was very impersonal – I felt like just another number; it was expensive - I would have been paying almost $1,000 more to use them over my own credit union (before taking my employee benefits into account); and it was a mortgage broker so they had less control over what happened with my loan than an institution that is lending their own money.
This coupled with my own experience within our department confirms my confidence in Verity Credit Union’s mortgage programs and staff. It makes my job much easier when I truly believe in the services I am selling. Here’s why I continue to stand behind our mortgage department…

< Our staff is fantastic! Everyone has worked for the credit union for at least three years, most over five. They have been in the industry for far longer… many are creeping up to 20 years! Multiply that by the number of staff members on our team and you have a lot of experience behind each and every loan!

< Not only is our staff experienced, but they are conscientious as well. If a loan officer doesn’t believe that doing a loan for a member is going to benefit them, they’ll say so. I have sat at my desk and overheard Tony numerous times tell various members that a refinance may not be the best option for them at this time. I’ve also heard Wendy counsel members wanting to buy a house, that they should wait another year to improve their buying power.

< Our programs and fees are a great deal! As a not-for-profit organization, we only charge our members a 1% origination fee and any third party fees incurred during the process. This can mean a lot of savings to our members! I first truly realized the impact of this when a Verity staff member asked me to review a Good Faith Estimate that her brother had received from a mortgage broker. I went through it and circled all the standard fees, I then added up the extras. The extras added up to over $1500! I couldn’t believe it!

At Verity Credit Union we continually work to get out from under the stigma that we don’t know what we are doing. But it’s a slow process. While it can be frustrating, I do feel that we are doing what we can to serve our members and I only hope that through our constant efforts, we can help our members and our community not only become homeowners, but feel confident in their decision.

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