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GREENSBORO, N.C. – First Carolina Corporate FCU is seeing success with its unique real estate assistance program. Back in 2003 the corporate partnered with Homeowners Mortgage Enterprises, Inc. to form First Carolina Real Estate Services, a CUSO. The CUSO helps members with buying or selling a home. A representative acts as the member’s advocate throughout the process. “We guide them, starting by helping them select a real estate agent and then doing a lot of handholding throughout the process. We follow up to make sure everything is going as planned,” said Lynwood Duke, executive vice president/broker-in-charge overseeing FCRES’ operations. Duke said there is a real need for this service in the credit union industry. “What we saw was credit unions helping members in every other aspect of financial decision making, but many don’t offer this kind of mortgage service,” said Duke. The value to participating credit unions is the FCRES advocate will inform members of the mortgages available from their credit union. “Hopefully the loan will go to the credit union, but if the member chooses not to use the credit union, they can. They’re not legally tied together,” said Duke. FCRES’ premier product is Real Estate Rewards. At the closing of the real estate transaction, FCRES pays the members a bonus reward based on the transaction price. The bonus ranges from $150 to as high as $2,500. For example, a home in the $150,000 to $199,000 range, will net the member $700. So how does FCRES make its money? “When the member enrolls in our program we refer them to real estate agents. The agents pay us for that business only if they complete a deal,” said Duke. Since the program has started, $10 million (based on sale price) in volume has been closed. More than $36,000 has been returned to members. Currently there are 41 participating credit unions from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. [email protected]

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