Higher member optimism about their personal finances and the economy helped Navy Federal Credit Union book $753 million in consumer loan originations in May – the best month in the cooperative’s 80-year history.
The $54 billion credit union in Vienna, Va., said $2.3 billion of its record $3.1 billion in consumer loan originations so far in 2013 are auto loans.
Navy Federal Corporate Economist Alan MacEachin points to two key factors regarding the credit union’s record year-to-date in auto loan originations – including $527 million in May: historically low interest rates (as low as 1.49% at Navy Federal) and the average age of vehicles in the U.S. at greater than 11 years.
“Major automakers reported significant sales increases in May compared to last year, further demonstrating that consumers are taking advantage of low rates and replacing older vehicles,” said MacEachin.
According to Navy Federal, there’s also mounting evidence that consumers may be overcoming this year’s federal spending cuts and the expiration of the payroll tax cut.
While consumer confidence indices are still below their pre-recession peaks, MacEachin said they currently stand at their highest levels in several years.
“An improving job market, stabilizing-to-increasing real estate values, and surging stocks are creating a greater sense of wealth and confidence among U.S. consumers,” MacEachin said. “These positive trends bode well for increased consumer spending and stronger economic growth.”
Indeed, members are feeling more confident about their financial health and are looking to buy large items such as new vehicles, said Tony Gallardy, vice president of consumer and credit card lending at Navy Federal.
“Serving them is a privilege, and we’ll continue to offer the best, affordable lending products to meet their increased needs,” Gallardy said.
Navy Federal is also experiencing record activity in its mortgage portfolio. In April, the credit union said it posted $1.3 billion in March, which was the highest figure ever experienced. During the first quarter, mortgage loans topped the $3.2 billion mark, which was double last year’s figure.