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OCALA, Fla. – Credit unions now are being offered their own branded version of a free, Web-based mortgage loan origination system (LOS) intended to match those deployed by much larger financial institutions. Called CreditUnions- Online (www.homelend ings.com/cuo), the service already is being used by six credit unions and 650 small community banks under the name of CommunityBanksOnline (www.cbobanks.com). CUO and CBO are services of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. of Ocala, which has partnered with Freddie Mac for a direct interface with the national residential loan investor’s Loan Prospector system for automated origination services and underwriting decisions. The CUO/CBO system comprises two Web sites. One is the LOS site that allows financial institutions to track loan documents and generate disclosure documents. The other is a free consumer site that provides mortgage information and the ability to apply for a loan online. “Through research, and our longstanding relationship with community banks, we found there was a need for a Web-based, total-solution platform that streamlines and automates the process of originating, underwriting and closing mortgage loans,” Darren Green, a division president at Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, says of the original idea behind creating CBO. “We then created CUO to address the specific needs of credit unions,” he says. The first credit union deployment of the system involves a $25 million initiative that will benefit the members of six African-American churches in the Atlanta area who are members of South DeKalb Church FCU. Taylor, Bean & Whitaker funds the mortgages and sells them to Freddie Mac to ensure a supply of mortgage credit, while the credit union handles the applications through the free LOS. That partnership, called “Catch the Dream: DeKalb”, is part of a national effort and is allowing the credit union to offer the six church’s 40,000 members access to affordable, low down payment mortgage products. “CUO has provided us the opportunity to offer mortgage services to our members without the expense and staff,” says Bonnie Wilkins, manager of $3.5 million, 3,500-member CU. “It also has allowed us through technology to search for the best possible product and pricing for our members.” Wilkins says the program benefits members in two ways: consumer education and technology. “All of our first-time homeowners are encouraged to attend workshops to better understand the financial responsibility of home ownership and how to remain in that new home,” she says. “This training, if completed in its entirety, provides them with a certificate of completion which qualifies them for down payment assistance. Then, through technology, our members are able to apply online, wherever they may be, and receive an approval within minutes,” Wilkins says. “Their requests are processed through every available mortgage product to ensure they are receiving the best product that fits them, and at the best price,” she says. So, what’s in it for Taylor, Bean & Whitaker? “TBW values conducting business with credit unions and accepts the responsibility of certain costs, such as automated underwriting and credit reports, associated with mortgage origination,” Green says. He says the program won’t be limited to faith-based CUs. “The initiative with South DeKalb Church FCU is unique in that respect,” he says. “We share Freddie Mac’s commitment to reach underserved markets, and the `Catch the Dream: DeKalb’ program afforded us a great opportunity to do just that.” -

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