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HEATH, Ohio and INDIANAPOLIS – Hopewell FCU has joined the list of nearly 15 CUs in five states that have partnerships with Irwin Mortgage Corp. for the company to process, close and service first mortgages for the CU’s members. Irwin Mortgage has relationships with CUs in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and North Carolina. The CUs range in size from very small to one with more than 60,000 members. Hopewell, in fact, is the smallest CU Irwin Mortgage has a relationship with. For Hopewell FCU with less than $50 million in assets and 9,400 members, the reason for having its partnership with Irwin Mortgage was very simple, said the CU’s President/CEO Alan Smith: handling mortgages by itself was proving to be a drain on the CU’s human resources and financial services. HFCU offers conforming and non-conforming first mortgages, as well as VA and FHA loans. It has about $10 million in mortgages on its books, and they account for about a third of the CU’s total loan portfolio. Smith said one person, a lending department manager, handles all the CU’s loan products. “We want to have the ability to grow our mortgage portfolio, but mortgages were taking about 75% of his time,” said Smith. Just as important, said Smith, was Hopewell’s reluctance to put more long term, fixed-rate mortgages on its books. Hopewell’s Board of Directors’ policy limits fixed rate mortgages to 25% of the CU’s deposits, and Smith said the CU was already “pushing” 22%. Under the terms of their agreement, Irwin Mortgage through its Credit Union Program, will put a trained company professional equipped with the latest mortgage technology and a full range of first mortgage programs, on-site at Hopewell’s headquarters. Bill Kirsch of Irwin Mortgage will be the mortgage loan officer. Irwin Mortgage will process, close and service first mortgages for the credit union’s members. HFCU will have the first right to buy any of the longterm fixed mortgages Irwin Mortgage closes for the CU. Hopewell FCU has chosen to be the first investor for mortgages Irwin Mortgage handles on the CU’s behalf. Other CUs, especially larger ones opt to be the sole investor in their programs with Irwin Mortgage. Charles Smith, vice president of Irwin Mortgage’s Credit Union Lending Division said even a large credit union can find it difficult to maintain a dedicated mortgage staff that has the necessary level of mortgage lending expertise. More important, he said, large credit unions aren’t able to develop the types of referral resources that would allow them to do mortgage business with groups like realtors and builders. Irwin Mortgage already has entre with these markets and credit unions can leverage that through the company’s Credit Union program. By accompanying a credit union loan representative to visit with a realtor or builder and representing themselves as a representative of the CU, credit unions have the opportunity to develop relationships with realtors and other groups they otherwise wouldn’t do business with. – [email protected]

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