Prime Alliance Real Estate Services Celebrates First Anniversary; PA "Right on Intended Path"
TUKWILA, Wash. - Twelve months after opening the first of its ancillary services for business, Prime Alliance Solutions has good reason to celebrate. Prime Alliance Real Estate Services, which celebrated its first-year anniversary July 4, issued a record number of rebates to members in June - more than $100,000. That's on top of the more than $1 million in rebates it issued to members in its first nine months of business. Prime Alliance President/CEO Joe Brancucci predicts Prime Alliance Real Estate Services will do another $1 million in rebates for the remainder of 2005. "When we formed Prime Alliance Solutions in 2001, our original vision was to create a virtual mortgage banking service for credit unions, and we're right on path," says Brancucci. "It's what we've been building towards ever since, in fact we're a year ahead of our target." While PA always had it in its strategy to develop a program that would serve as a one-stop housing resource for members like Real Estate Services, Brancucci says "architecturally we first had to build the technology to support that kind of business. The Loan Fulfillment Center gave us the architecture to hold the pieces together. Now the sky's the limit." PA's Loan Fulfillment Center is a Web-based mortgage fulfillment solution that features intelligent, conditions-based workflow and connections to preferred service providers. A key feature of the solution is its integration with external partners involved in the mortgage process, allowing credit unions to take advantage of preferred pricing on mortgage services negotiated on their behalf. When it came to developing PA Real Estate Services, Brancucci says the company "wanted to build something on top of a successful relocation model where the member would get an incredible servicing experience when they move from one place to another." He adds that, "The real estate transaction is the most important transaction members have. We want the member to only have to worry about where they're going to put their furniture, not whether the deal is going to close." Members who use the service when buying or selling their home receive a 20% rebate of the realtor's commission on the transaction side after closing. In addition, each credit union has the ability to designate an additional amount that will be applied to the member's closing costs if the member uses the program and gets their loan from the credit union. When looking for a real estate company to partner with, Brancucci says Prime Alliance Solutions deliberately looked for one that wasn't necessarily the highest producer or had high branding and name recognition. "We wanted a realtor who was very experienced but unassuming. Big name realtors won't have the time to spend with members, and they tend to have an entourage they pass clients off to. We wanted someone who would spend time with the member, because if they did that and were able to make the member comfortable, then that translates into a transaction," he says. That's why Prime Alliance Solutions chose to partner with Prudential because the company has access to realtors associated with Prudential Real Estate. Prime Alliance Real Estate Services currently has over 350 Credit Union Certified Real Estate Agents to work with credit unions and their members. Brancucci explains that both the credit union and member benefit from the arrangement. The credit union knows they're handing their member off to a realtor it can trust will handle the transaction professionally. The member knows they're working with a realtor who understands the credit union philosophy and will give them good service. "That means whether a member goes to Tampa or St. Petersburg, they'll get the same level of service and experience as if they were in Seattle," says Brancucci. With credit unions competing now in the evolving purchase mortgage market, the PA president says that level of service is all the more crucial. "For credit unions to compete in the purchase market, they have to develop relationships with developers and realtors. The majority of credit unions doing mortgages now got into it during the last refi boom, and a lot of them are getting out of the business because the refi boom is over and they're no longer just taking orders. They don't have the infrastructure. When you have to compete against the likes of Citibank or Countrywide, it's a hard business unless you have a strategy in place," Brancucci opines. "Seventy percent of all purchase mortgage market transactions are directed by realtors, so if credit unions want to make believe that realtors don't exist then they're being nave. A lot of credit unions have difficulty dealing with realtors, with Real Estate Services they don't have to because we deal with the agents for them," says Brancucci. Looking ahead for future announcements credit unions can expect to come out of Prime Alliance Solutions, Brancucci says the number one request the company's heard from its advisory board and credit unions is for it to develop an ancillary secondary marketing activity that would allow CUs to aggregate mortgage volume to sell on the secondary market. He says CUs now sell on the secondary market by themselves, but they don't aggregate. "We have all the pieces together now for a virtual mortgage banking service for credit unions except the secondary part," he says, adding that he hopes to have a plan put together for this by May 2006. -firstname.lastname@example.org