KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As more credit unions are offering mortgages through in-house or outsourced programs, the need to network with one another is being met by the formation of Credit Union Real Estate Networks.
These grassroots organizations serve as a regional strength, providing access to expert speakers and drawing attendance from CUs with active programs and those seeking to launch mortgage programs.
The newest CUREN launch happened here on March 14 at the National World War I Liberty Memorial, demonstrating the depth of commitment credit unions have to serving members and growing the mortgage share of business, said organizers.
The Great Plains CUREN was a joint effort by David H. Kudrin of CUNA Mutual Group and Ann Morgan and Brett Dorsel from the CUSO Tru Home Solutions.The inaugural meeting drew 27 attendees from 11 credit unions, a representative from Freddie Mac and Don Cohenour from the Missouri Credit Union League. Gateway CUREN will serve CUs and CUSOs in western Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Western Iowa and South Dakota. The CUREN's stated mission is to provide networking on ideas and experience in mortgage lending that will better the CU profile.
A key component of all CURENs, and particularly those in areas marked by geographic distance between them, is to bring expertise to those seeking it but are unable to attend larger national conferences. That's true with the Great Plains CUREN, whose members may not have the travel budgets to attend those larger conferences. For them, the CUREN is a convenient, yet timely means of staying up on national trends in CU mortgage lending, proposed legislation and vendor capabilities.
Summed up by the Great Plains CUREN mission of enhancing the expertise of local members by providing continuing education and professional development, the newest one was marked by the active participation of those attending and the range of job titles of attendees, from CEOs to loan processors.
Bob Dorsa, ACUMA president spoke to attendees about the opportunities credit unions have in the current market and ACUMA's efforts to pave the way for CUs to open relationships with realtors as a way to grow the lending portfolio. Dorsa told Credit Union Times that despite the mortgage meltdown, CU mortgage activity is up. "Given that only half the country's credit unions do mortgages, that's very good," he said. "Even with home prices stagnating and the for sale by owner option gaining some popularity, 41% of all home purchase transactions are still handled through realtors. That makes our working with the National Association of Realtors more critical than ever to keep the growth going."
Brett Cooper of Freddie Mac spoke about local real estate market issues and noted changes in loan programs, but he said credit unions still have lots of opportunities for mortgage lending, given that an estimated 10% of a CU's membership seeks mortgages each year. Still, Cooper said the CU world was suffering collateral damage due to declining home values.
Working closely with service providers is also a key to success, said Ann Morgan, director of Mortgage Services for TruHome Solutions LLC. Making it possible for CU officials to spend the day networking and learning requires fuel, she noted. TruHome Solutions provided lunch for the first CUREN meeting and will host the next scheduled quarterly meeting at its home at the CommunityAmerica Credit Union home office in Lenexa, Kan. But lunch for the remainder of meetings in 2008 will be provided by CMGMI, as volunteered by David Kudrin.
No dues will be applied to CUREN members at this time, Morgan said, although the option was discussed.
For more information on the Great Plains CUREN, contact Ann Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.