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Credit Union Home Buying Seminars Promote More than Mortgages

Credit Union Home Buying Seminars Promote More than Mortgages By Gina Ragusa
Published August 8, 2011
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Members will need their credit union more than ever now that the S&P downgraded the country's AAA credit rating status. The reduction from AAA to AA means that consumer borrowing costs could increase which may have an effect on everything from fees to interest rates. As if navigating the murky waters of mortgage lending isn't scary enough, borrowers now must try to comprehend how the latest reduction will impact their chances of home ownership leaving many borrowers more frustrated than ever. Luckily, those who are credit union members will have financial education and insightful advice on their side. With the majority of the nation's credit unions offering comprehensive home buying and refinance seminars, members can apply the information delivered during the session to make an informed decision about how to proceed at just about any point the process. Free to members, prospective members and often the community, credit unions are doing what they do best--taking a grassroots approach to member education and breaking down how to effectively purchase a home. Seminars go far beyond just mortgage basics--credit unions are teaching members about credit, how to compare home prices and negotiate a good deal. Whether it's the member's first home or third, credit unions throughout the country are opening their doors and are introducing seminar attendees to leading mortgage, real estate and credit experts.

Seminars Reach Beyond the Mortgage

Jeff Coward, VP/Mortgage and Real Estate Lending at Virginia Credit Union ($2 billion, Richmond, VA ) says that seminars are an investment in the future. He adds that while some seminar attendees are not ready to buy a home, they want to learn about the process so they can plan. "Our hope is when they are ready, they will turn to their credit union." Navy Federal Credit Union ($46 billion, Vienna, VA) Corporate Spokesperson, Donovan Fox says that in addition to the typical mortgage and home buying information, his credit union injects facts present in the current market. "In today's market, being pre-approved is imperative to buying a home. In some markets, real estate agents won't talk to you if you aren't pre-approved, which often comes as a surprise to many buyers." Current topics are also a source of interest at Consumers Credit Union ($525 million, Lake County, IL). Gilbert Chavez, Director of Mortgage Lending says, "We like to mix it up with guest speakers. Our format has stayed the same, but we have guest presenters who can address what's hot and important at the moment, with the overall general message of educating the member about home ownership." He adds that his seminars typically include both a Realtor and an expert from the credit union, in order to provide the member with a complete picture. Matt Cornia, Mortgage Business Development Officer at Unitus Community Credit Union ($836 million, Portland, OR) says his credit union seminars touch on more than the mortgage too. "We talk about how to make an offer on a house and will often have a Realtor on hand to help the member learn how to negotiate the process and be prepared in this market."

Credit Unions Have Become Seasoned Home Buying Seminar Experts

If you plan to attend a credit union home buying seminar, get ready for full-on, comprehensive educational instruction. Many credit unions have been hosting home buying seminars for over a decade and have become keen experts on how to effectively inform the borrowing public. Navy Federal Credit Union and Andrews Federal Credit Union ($878 million, Suitland, MD) have been producing successful home buying seminars for at least 15 years. Other credit unions, such as Ent Federal Credit Union ($3.2 billion, Colorado Springs, CO), Unitus Community Credit Union, Virginia Credit Union and Consumers Credit Union have been at the home buying seminar game for several years. Chavez offers sage advice through experience. "Through the years we've learned what works and doesn't work." He says that having a centrally located seminar, held after work hours and to offer fun door prizes will keep the seminar flowing. During Consumers Credit Union home buying seminars, presenters will randomly distribute $5 gift card to local chains when attendees answer questions. Unitus does the same. Cornia says, "We'll offer door prizes such as gift cards ranging from Starbucks to Home Depot--we like to change it up between seminars." Nearly all credit union sponsored home buying seminars provide refreshments since many attendees come to the seminars directly from work.

Seminar Topics Are Key to a Successful Seminar

One reason many credit union home buying seminars are so well attended is due to the type and amount of information packed into the one to two hour period. Suzanne Curren, Director of Public Relations and Community Development at Andrews Federal Credit Union says that topics are broader than just "how to purchase a home. She says," The seminars are geared toward the first time home buyer so we provide a very broad scope of home purchase related topics during the seminar not just the home loan and real estate aspects." A few of the topics include advantages of renting versus buying, determining how much home you can afford comfortably, negotiating the officer and closing the deal. Cathy Grossman, VP/Corporate Communications says that Ent Federal Credit Union's topics include "building a home from the ground up," which includes loan guidelines and pre-qualification, interim construction financing, permanent financing, general contractor and builder recommendations and requirements project requirements and how the process works.

What Makes Credit Union Home Buying Seminars Successful?

Many credit union executives believe about the role home buying seminars is another branch of delivering non-stop exceptional service. Grossman says that credit unions strive to offer insightful, educational outlets for its members without the hard sell delivered at many banks. "Ent is committed to making sure our free educational seminar programs do not feature a hard sales pitch; however, we have found that our educational approach has had a positive impact and some attendees do convert to a mortgage with Ent. The seminars are presented by our mortgage loan officers and this also keeps them in tune with what questions potential mortgage loan purchasers have. We believe the seminar program remains an effective way to present our knowledgeable mortgage loan officers and the support and programs Ent provides to the community."

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