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ATLANTA – Only 20% of the population are actually ready to apply for a mortgage and credit unions are in a unique position to increase that number, one expert said. Speaking at the AACUC’s annual meeting here recently, Mercy Jimenez, senior vice president, National Business Center at Fannie Mae, said products such as Expanded Approval, which has amassed $30 billion in loans, has also helped 725,000 credit union members become homeowners since 2001. Minority groups will lead 80% of the population but the gap for home ownership between African-Americans and other minority groups with Whites still remains wide. “I talk to credit unions all the time and I have yet to hear that they have a higher penetration than 9%,” Jimenez said. “The other people are going elsewhere” Jimenez, who has a marketing background, said the key to capturing that group is differentiation. “First-time home buyers – credit unions can have a different role” with this group, she said. “Credit unions can not take a cookie-cutter approach. You’re not banks, thrifts or mortgage companies. You have unique needs that need to be recognized to align with members.” Indeed, Fannie Mae has several industry alliances including with NAFCU and a Credit Union Center at efanniemae.com. Jimenez said Fannie Mae’s `triple win’ strategy involves partnerships, working consumers and carrying out its American Dream Commitment, which includes $3 trillion in underserved loans this year, increasing minority homeownership by 55% and setting up affordable housing in 1,000 communities. Jimenez also said the African-American population grew by 3% between 2000 and 2002 bringing the total number to 36.7 million. Housing accounts for 31% of wealth for African-Americans, she added, and Fannie Mae finances one out of five mortgages for this minority group. [email protected]

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