During a recent discussion with a newly married woman about home ownership, the topic of financing emerged. The woman expressed concern about how she and her husband would secure a mortgage because every lender she spoke with seemed to brush her off and pigeonhole her into one type of mortgage.
When I asked if she had considered a credit union she looked puzzled, unsure not only what a credit union was but also whether a credit union had mortgage products.
“Credit unions have a lot to offer, but one of biggest issues for credit unions is that people sometimes don’t understand that they can join and that we offer a comprehensive menu of mortgage products.”
Fyfe shared a story about a member who went house hunting through a local Realtor. “When the member suggested getting the mortgage through the credit union the Realtor said that a credit union wouldn't close fast enough and advised the member to go through a different lender.”
However the borrower still went through Tropical Financial for the mortgage and it closed on time without a hitch. “Our loans remain on track because of our approach to mortgage lending,” Fyfe said. “In fact, after the closing the Realtor told me that he advised the borrower to go in a different direction and that he had no idea the credit union would provide such a positive and expeditious process. Now that Realtor refers business to Tropical Financial!”
“It’s commonplace for most loan officers to be available any time,” Doug Leever, mortgage sales manager adds. “Sandy is constantly in touch with members and borrowers, keeping them updated on the timeline and letting them know they can call her anytime, even on the weekend. Having this kind of access is comforting to the member and having such an advocate puts the borrower at ease because buying a home is very stressful.”
Many credit union officers point out that because credit unions are not for profit, the experience is more people than profit driven. “Our members typically have a kinder, gentler and more honest experience,” Fyfe says.
The credit union will walk the member through the process starting with the pre-approval. “We need the borrower to be pre-approved to make sure they can afford their purchase, but also to pre-approve them in a mortgage product that would benefit the borrower’s circumstance,” Fyfe states. Tropical Financial offers a tremendous number of loan products to accommodate nearly any borrower.
During the process, the borrower’s credit is pulled, income verified and debt to income ratio confirmed. “We don’t perform a superficial qualification,” Fyfe says. “Some lenders will pull credit and then take the borrower’s word over the phone. Instead we will ask for the tax returns so the pre-approval letter will be solid and set the member up for a quicker and smoother process in the long run.”
Fyfe adds that Tropical Financial also offers a special realty program that partners the borrower up with a credit union approved Realtor. CU Realty Services provides a professional realty service and special discounts to members. The program is offered at Tropical Financial Credit Union as well as many other credit unions throughout the country.
According to Real Estate.com, credit unions offer a bevy of mortgage loan advantages including low rates, no/low fees, personalized service and quicker closings.
Another advantage is the most credit unions retain at least half of their mortgages and don’t sell them on the secondary market. According to Bill Hampel, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) chief economist, credit unions are positioned to be people centered. “The people working at credit unions know that they’ll keep their jobs if they keep their members happy,” he told the New York Times. “There are no divided loyalties.”
Bob Dorsa, the president of the American Credit Union Mortgage Association told the New York Times that credit unions are beginning to emerge in the mortgage market thanks to big bank blunders. We’d be remiss if we didn’t give a shout-out to the major banks for being annoying to consumers and forcing people to seek out other alternatives.”
Whether you are considering a new home purchase or refinance, talk to a credit union mortgage loan officer for more information.By Gina Ragusa