Making a difference for your members

Embrace your Community’s Diversity; Anticipate their Needs

Homeownership in the United States is at its lowest point in more than 50 years. The decline is attributed to many factors, including a slow recovery from the 2008 economic crisis and mounting debt for the younger generations who comprise the largest chunk of the first-homebuyers market.

But the more relevant questions for mortgage-lending credit unions is: Who are the future homebuyers and how can I help them?

The answers are many, but two maxims that smart credit unions should consider are:

  1. Think inclusively.
  2. Identify who we’re missing.

In both cases it’s necessary to think about maximizing your opportunities by offering products and services to serve these two needs.

The first—being inclusive—suggests that credit unions look to better serve the greatly expanding minority populations among their memberships. An example can serve to illustrate the point.

Recently, as I was standing in line at the credit union, the teller encountered a Latino member in line in front of me. She easily switched from English to Spanish, facilitating the transaction. But then, when a person in another line also fumbled with English, the teller conversed with her in Japanese.

Wow, was I ever impressed. Just think about the value that these employees bring to the credit union. And, more importantly, how such language skills can make it so much easier to attract new members.

OK, we can’t do the legal documents in other languages, but we certainly can pave the way for opportunities with these types of conversations. And the question we should be asking ourselves is: Does our mortgage business reflect the increasing diversity in our membership and our community?

The second point—identifying potential homebuyers—starts with understanding who buys homes. A recent National Association of Realtors survey shows some important trends in a changing real-estate market:

  • The median age of a U.S. homebuyer has climbed five years since 2010.
  • Married couples comprise 67% of homebuyers, an increase from 58% in five years.
  • Homes purchased by single females has fallen by almost half during the same period.

And especially as younger homebuyers (Millennials) continue to reach adulthood and secure employment—they are expected to comprise 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2020—the issues they face are making a major impact of how, and when, homes are bought and sold.

According to a Fannie Mae study, more than 90% of Millennials want to own a home “eventually,” but many are waiting longer to ensure they can afford the expense (or even qualify for a loan), as well as match their lifestyle choices.

The Fannie Mae study notes that Millennials are staying in school longer and waiting longer to get married and have children. A significant subgroup also prefer urban living, where a higher percentage of the population are renters. Another big factor for Millennials who pursue college degrees is the rising amount of student debt they are accumulating: on average more than $25,000.

Credit unions have made strides in grabbing a larger share of the mortgage market, but to continue success we must anticipate who will be our future customers and when they will be ready to pursue homeownership.

Successful credit unions will nurture this relationship from infancy to maturity.

Bob Dorsa

Bob Dorsa

Bob Dorsa is the President of the ACUMA (American Credit Union Mortgage Association) a professional trade association (co-founded by Dorsa in 1996). ACUMA is one of the most unique niche ... Web: Details