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MANCHESTER, N.H. – St. Mary’s Bank recently opened its new Mortgage Center with expanded mortgage lending capabilities, and now the oldest credit union in the U.S. is pitching its new concept in mortgage lending through the mass media including print, television and radio. The $542 million, 55,000-member St. Mary’s has spent the past two years retooling its infrastructure to support mortgage lending by improving internal processes and investing in technology to deliver members instant decisions on loan applications. Last year the CU formed its own title company – St. Mary’s Title Services. St. Mary’s also recently opened its new Mortgage Center that allows consumers to choose from among three channels which one works best for them to apply for a mortgage – in person at any of the credit union’s branches, by phone, or online. “We want consumers to think of St. Mary’s Bank when they think of mortgages,” says the credit union’s Marketing Director Elizabeth Stodolski. “We want the credit union to be the destination consumers go to when they need anything mortgage related.” Regardless of which mortgage delivery channel a member chooses to use through the Mortgage Center, Stodolski says the consumer receives the same level of service. That means they can apply for a loan in minutes and receive a decision on their application in under two minutes if they meet the St. Mary’s underwriting criteria. For those members who don’t qualify for instant loan approval, they have to go through traditional underwriting processes. It could take a little longer for them to receive a decision on their applications. The few members who can’t use traditional underwriting program may have to wait up to 24 hours to complete non-traditional programs. To get the word out to consumers about its mortgage lending capabilities and the new Mortgage Center, St. Mary’s worked with Creative Coop, Portsmith, N.H. to design the advertising campaign. Stodolski said there were four key messages it considered important for the campaign to communicate: the ease of application, instant decisioning, the value St. Mary’s offers with rates and closing costs, and that the CU is about more than just mortgages. John Weinstein, a principle at Creative Coop, gave St. Mary’s 10 concepts to choose from, and the CU narrowed those down to the two it determined best represented St. Mary’s identity and the messages it wanted to convey. Starting the beginning of this year, the campaign ran in major newspapers in three markets – Greater Concord, Greater Manchester, and Nashua – as well as in select area specialty real estate publications. In addition, from April through early July, the campaign will run for 13 weeks on cable TV in these three areas as well statewide on network stations WMUR and WNDS. The last component of the campaign will feature radio spots beginning next month on WZID. St. Mary’s currently offers more than 50 mortgage products and services such as convention fixed-rate (30-, 25-, 20-, 15-, and 10 year terms), adjustable rate mortgages, government-insured and first-time buyer programs, “special” loan programs, new and “conversion” condominium financing, less-than-perfect credit, land loans, and construction financing. Its mortgage volume accounts for 39% of St. Mary’s total loan volume. In addition, nearly three-quarters (72%) of mortgage applications the Mortgage Center receives come from alternative delivery methods such as the Internet or by phone and are processed as Instant Pre-Approval applications. -

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