JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – First Florida CU, like all the credit unions that used CUNA Mutual Mortgage for their mortgage services until it was sold to PHH Mortgage last year, had to choose between using that company or finding another provider. First Florida opted for the latter for 30-year mortgages while continuing to offer 10- and 15-year fixed rate products in-house. But now the $211 million CU wants to offer its members a wider menu of mortgage products. So starting March 5 it will be doing business with American Home Mortgage Inc., N.Y. First Florida CU Interim CEO Linda Jones said the $211 million FFCU chose to go with American Home Mortgage because of the wide variety of products and services they’re able to offer the CU’s more than 32,000 members. American Home Mortgage offers more than 2,000 types of mortgage products among which are some of the so-called exotic loans such as interest only and 40-year mortgages. With membership open to anyone who lives or works in 10 Florida counties – Leon, Baker, Broward, Clay, Duval, Orange, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Seminole and St. Johns – and with home prices so high in South Florida, Jones said FFCU is getting a lot of requests for these types of products. FFCU also has two branches in areas of South Florida where there are a lot of immigrants from the West Indies and South America, and American Home Mortgage also does the Foreign National Loan, which makes it possible for immigrants to apply for mortgages. FFCU has $52 million in its mortgage portfolio. It sells on the secondary market through American Home Mortgage. Jones cited several mortgage benefits FFCU members will now be able to enjoy. American Home Mortgage, for example, is co-branding its online mortgage center with the credit union, so members will be able to go online and get prequalified for a mortgage loan. In addition, American Home Mortgage’s software allows members to provide information on their mortgage and home buying needs and matches them up with the best mortgage product. Also, American Home Mortgage closes all of the loans in First Florida CU’s name, finds an investor and sells the mortgage, “so we’re not tying up our assets in fixed-rate products for the long term. It helps us manage our asset liabilities.” Lastly, with American Home Mortgage being spread throughout Florida, it means the company will have a mortgage loan officer in each of FFCU’s six branches including two in Leon County and one each in Broward, Dade, Orange and Duval counties. Mortgage officers will also go to FFCU’s 200 SEGs to do home buying seminars. Jones said she was excited about the new program and partnership with American Home Mortgage. “Our mortgage program provides trained mortgage professionals, equipped with the latest technology and more than 2,000 competitive priced mortgage products, to create an accessible mortgage department.” -

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