FORT WORTH, Texas - How does a credit union know, before it contracts to work with a mortgage partner, that the lender they choose will be the right fit for their credit union? What questions do they need to ask? Credit unions' lack of awareness of what they need to know has become increasingly apparent to Linda Clampitt, vice president of CU Members Mortgage, since she's had to field calls from credit unions that had a relationship with CUNA Mutual Mortgage Corp. until CUNA Mutual Group decided to get out of the mortgage business and sell that part of its operations to PHH Mortgage. "We've gotten a lot of calls from credit unions who aren't sure if they want to go with PHH and are looking for alternatives. A lot of them used CUNA for so many years for their mortgage services and felt comfortable. A lot of them don't know where to begin to start exploring their options," says Clampitt. "They're at a loss, and they're looking to us for guidance," she added. Clampitt stresses that not every mortgage lender is the right fit for every credit union. There's no one that can be all things to all credit unions. "For some credit unions, servicing release is most important or they don't care about having the provider do the marketing because they do it themselves. Then there are credit unions at the other end of the spectrum who don't have the expertise on their staff and used CUNA Mutual Mortgage for everything. We've seen a lot of credit unions frantic to find someone," she says. To help credit unions better assess which mortgage provider best meets their needs, CU Members Mortgage has published a guide to help CUs find the right partner titled Home Work. The booklet includes a list of 34 questions credit union executives should ask during a review of mortgage providers to find the best match. There's room for responses from four lenders. Clampitt says in putting the list of questions together, CU Members Mortgage tried to compile a comprehensive list it thought are important in the mortgage lending market that credit unions should consider. She stresses there is no wrong or right answer to each question, but rather it's what best fits the CU's needs. "One lender can specialize in certain products, and another in certain services or can promise a certain turnaround time. It's what's best for each credit union," says Clampitt. Among the list of 34 questions, Clampitt offers that some are more important than others. For example, question #1 asks "How long have you been in business?" That's important, she says because you want to know the lender's stability and whether they're financial healthy. There are also several product-related questions such as fixed rates, ARMs, construction-permanent, zero-point loans. "Credit unions' number one challenge in mortgage lending is convincing members they're a viable lender. So the worst thing you can do is not have a product to offer to meet the members' needs," she says. Clampitt says it's also important for credit unions that have fields-of-membership nationwide to make sure they have a mortgage lending vehicle to serve those members. If you have members in multiple states, make sure the provider you contract with is licensed to do business in those states, she advises. "It's not in anyone's best interest to get into a situation that won't work. Credit unions should be aware of the factors that make a partnership the right match," says Clampitt. Additional information on Home Work is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. - email@example.com
CU Members Mortgage Gives Credit Unions "Homework Help" in Selecting a Mortgage Partner
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