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DUBLIN, Ohio — Credit unions’ partnerships with real estate agents may be key to their success in competing in the purchase mortgage market, and the way those partnerships are structured can be just as critical.

Dave Fearing, vice president business services for OCUL Services Corp., a subsidiary of the Ohio Credit Union System, says the company’s business model of having real estate agents “park their licenses” with its real estate brokerage business–Cooperative Real Estate Services– is the mitigating factor behind OCUL Service Corp.’s decision to discontinue its real estate brokerage business effective Oct. 31. “It’s critically important that credit unions be successful in mortgage lending. Getting checking accounts and mortgage loans are two core products for all financials, and we all vie for that business. In the purchase mortgage market, a lot of the mortgage business starts and stops with the real estate agent,” said Fearing. “If you look at indirect auto lending, you’re counting on the dealer to drive business back to the credit union. It’s the same with the purchase mortgage market. Our business model was one where our real estate agents worked for CRES. But name recognition is important to the agents. They’re going with Remax or Coldwell Banker, so we found it was challenging to attract and retain high quality, aggressive agents who are attracted to national brokerage firms. We ran out of steam being able to attract and retain them,” he added.

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