The credit union, a CUMAnet client, invited members to attend the lunch and learn event and bring their loan documents along for review. Organizers said most attendees didn't need assistance with subprime mortgages but were searching for peace of mind that their home loan didn't contain any hidden clauses or rate increases.
"People come away with a better idea of what a subprime loan is, and even if they don't have one, they'll have the education to avoid it when they go mortgage shopping again," said Leo O'Donnell, CUMAnet's assistant vice president for credit union relations. "And because of the economy, everybody is trying to streamline their finances, so some ask if we can look at every loan they have."
Because the event was geared toward employees of the agency, not the veterans themselves, very few had VA mortgages. The majority of loans were not part of government programs, he said.
O'Donnell added that the trust that members have in credit union advice, combined with high-profile news stories about mortgage and economic issues, produced a better than usual turnout for the financial education event, especially considering the summer timing. In fact, so many members were turned away, the credit union scheduled a second date.
"I wouldn't say what they're hearing in the news is necessarily hype, but is very dramatic, and people naturally have a concern," O'Donnell said. "Mortgages are a big mystery to many people. They don't understand them, it's the biggest purchase they'll make in their lives, and home is where the heart is. They don't want a commissioned bank or mortgage broker selling to them in those circumstances. That's the big difference with a credit union, no hard sell, no commission, and I think people recognize that. You can come to the check up and leave without refinancing your mortgage with us, and that's fine. Everybody is still getting paid."
CUMAnet is currently scheduling fall check ups for its 50 plus clients, and also offers check up services to members via phone. CUMAnet's Assistant Vice President of Lending Cris Tiberi said incoming calls average about 25 to 50 per week, but calls spike whenever headlines announce another bank failure or housing bill update.
"It's a way for our credit union clients put forth a proactive solution, rather than be reactive," Tiberi said.