GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The $1.1. billion Lake Michigan Credit Union, an institution which tried, and failed, to move to a mutual bank charter in 2004 has moved even more firmly into the auto leasing and resale businesses. According to the NCUA, Lake Michigan is the second most active credit union in the country when it comes to leasing, having a lease portfolio of roughly 13,000 auto contracts worth over $322 million or over 36% of its entire loan portfolio. “We seem to have mostly sidestepped the overall national downturn in leases,” said Kim Bray, a manager for the credit union. “As leases have fallen out of favor with some consumers because of the zero percentage rate offers, they have held their appeal for those who like the flexibility they offer.” The credit union has advanced its commitment to auto leasing by upgrading its used auto lot from being a small area behind a branch which served as the site of a pilot project to a five acre lot next to a branch that can hold more than 200 cars. “We definitely see our auto lease business as being an ongoing effort, not as something merely flash in the pan,” Bray said. Bray attributed the success of the auto resale project to a number of factors; among them the ease of financing for car buyers who joined the credit union as well as the security of purchasing a used car whose previous ownership is fairly certain. Bray explained that there had been instances of cars being sold in Michigan which had been involved in flooding and other natural disasters but whose histories had not been disclosed. Consumers liked buying cars from the credit union, he said, because they know that we know there has been only one owner for these cars. -

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