Some very strong points that credit unions, especially smaller credit unions, really need to hear were made in the opinion article by Edward Burger of Midwest Loan Services Inc., “Sell the mortgage if you must, but retain the servicing” in the July 4th issue of Credit Union Times. Mr. Burger makes the important point that all credit unions, regardless of size, should have some method of bringing real estate loans to their members. That it can be done, and it can be done at no cost to the credit union, is something credit unions do not always realize. However, whether or not a credit union has mortgage loans serviced in its own name is not what will make or break the members’ relationship with the credit union. Being able to serve every member is. If a member comes in for a mortgage loan and is denied because he can’t put 10% down or for any other number of reasons, but that member then has no problem at all getting approved at a local mortgage company, what message is the credit union sending its members? “We’ll help you buy a house, but only if you can make a large down payment”? “If your credit union says no, try a bank”? What ever happened to people helping people? I see too many mortgage departments in credit unions with fixed ideas about what they want to offer. They wonder why they end up filling out VOD’s for members who have applied with other lenders. They wonder why credit unions only have 2% of mortgage loans in this country. Mr. Burger is right. Mortgages are the cornerstone of a consumer’s banking relationship, and if you have a member’s mortgage, you’ll be more likely to have his or her checking account. It’s also important to make sure that members will not be cross-sold on other financial services that may compete with the credit union. (And just because someone else services your loans, does not mean your members will be cross-sold. Even Wells Fargo has an option for credit unions where members will not be solicited for any other financial products.) But refusing to offer loans which are difficult to service, (such as government loans), because you want to service everything, is counterproductive. How can credit unions use real estate lending to become the primary financial institution of more members? The answer is simple. Credit unions need to focus on their members’ needs, and partner with lenders who will provide them with programs to fit those needs. FHA, VA, down payment assistance, jumbo, construction and renovation loans all satisfy specific needs and are available to your members from other sources. Bring these programs into the credit union together with competitive rates and excellent service, and you’ll be nurturing the unique relationship that credit unions have with their members, whether your name is on the mortgage or not. Laura M. Enock Credit Union Specialist Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Minneapolis, Minn.

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