Credit union mortgage lenders might find a new avenue for promoting the consumer-friendly nature of their mortgage through certification from a new consumer-oriented mortgage group.
The Fair Mortgage Collaborative aims to educate the public about loan products and practices and guide low- and moderate-income and minority homeowners and homebuyers to suitable mortgages, according to the organization's mission statement.
Despite his last name, Howard Banker, executive director of the organization, has served on the board of $14 million Bethex Federal Credit Union in New York, and the organization already lists the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the $8.6 billion BECU credit union of Washington State as certified organizations. FMC has also certified the Prime Alliance Solutions, a leading mortgage CUSO headquartered in Washington State.
"I am almost 100% certain that every [mortgage lending] credit union in the country complies with our standards as part of its ordinary business," Banker said.
In order to become certified, a credit union would have to offer mortgage products that essentially do not exploit borrowers in either their mortgage interest or fees, Banker explained, adding that interested credit unions should read FMC's lending guidelines at www.fairmortgage.org and contact the group.
FMC's lending standards have seven requirements such as certified lenders showing the customer the loan products for which the customer is eligible without regard to the revenues that would accrue to the member making the loan.
Once certified, the credit unions would be able to display a logo representing that certification in their mortgage marketing programs. Also, consumers seeking a fair and safe mortgage lender would be able to enter their zip codes at the organization's Web site and get referred to those certified credit unions in their area.
In addition, consumers with existing mortgage offers will be able to use the site to compare the rates and points they have been offered with those from other lenders in the area to see if theirs are out of line and if they need to shop around more.
The organizations charges a one-time $1,000 for each certification that basically covers the cost of getting the program up and running for that organization and then 50 cents per loan going forward. But Banker said FMC has a access to money from a grant to help defray the registration costs for credit unions that might need the assistance.