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NEW YORK – The American Credit Union Mortgage Association’s (ACUMA) spring annual conference in New York City not only gave attendees the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Big Apple, but also chance for credit union lenders and REALTORST to network with and better understand each other and learn how they can help each other build business. That message was delivered in several sessions during the three-day conference April 3-5 where representatives from both sides met to strategize. Both sides agreed there is information to share and misconceptions to be overcome – of each other. Credit unions, for example, said real estate professionals don’t realize how technologically advanced credit unions have become. They also misunderstand credit unions’ efforts to protect members’ privacy. Brian Shepherd, SVP and general manager of CMG Mortgage Insurance Co., San Francisco said credit unions need to better publicize their advantages as mortgage lenders not only to their members but also to the real estate industry. Matt Lillie, owner of V.I.P Realty Center and CEO of HomeTruth, Wichita, Kan. told attendees that consumers who intend to finance their home purchase through their credit union are often “poached” by real estate salespeople, mortgage brokers, and predatory lenders. Lillie already works with several credit unions. As a result, he said, credit unions only finance about 2% of all mortgages nationwide even though they offer competitive rates, state-of-the-art technology, and a high level of customer service. Your opposition isn’t banks, it’s the predatory lenders and poachers who practice bait-and-switch tactics, he told credit union lenders. About 66% of all mortgages are handled by providers recommended by real estate agents, Tom Popik of Geosegment Systems, New Hampshire, reported to attendees from findings on Campbell Communications market research studies on the mortgage industry. Agents overwhelmingly prefer mortgagors who provide reliable preapproval letters, he said, and this factor is a vital differentiator for credit unions because they know their members better. In addition, unlike predatory lenders, credit unions do not issue faulty prequalifications. That’s a powerful sales message for credit unions in the eyes of REALTORS, Popik emphasized. Lillie encourages credit unions to choose real estate partners carefully and made several suggestions on ways to build relationships: * educate real estate agents by networking and attending local functions * leverage other business relationships, such as with title companies * offer weekend access where possible * present your credit union as bringing business to the realtor, not looking for business.

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