Fall. Time for football, cooler temperatures and budgeting and planning at the nation's credit unions. And all of those credit union executives wrestling with that planning need to take into account the challenges and opportunities posed by mortgage lending. Because these decisions will be among those that will shape your credit union's future.

First, at a time when every credit union's balance sheet has taken a hit, mortgage loans provide a way your credit union can significantly improve its bottom line. (The underlying sentiment here is offering appropriate loans, underwritten well and priced accordingly.)

Properly priced and underwritten mortgage loans will do wonders for your balance sheet. Your loan-to-share ratio will be enhanced and your profitability should soar under the current and projected market conditions. Mortgage lending solves many growth issues. For example, credit unions can use mortgages to engage first-time homebuyers, at a time when almost all credit unions are looking to woo younger members. This will help your organization for many years. You will also have a great opportunity to cross sell other products and services since your mortgage applicant will be working with you for several weeks during this transaction. All of these elements offer the potential to strengthen your credit union in several key areas.

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