Riding the Waves

Credit Unions work hard to navigate the ebbs and flows of mortgage lending.

by Karen Bankston

The mortgage marketplace could never be described as placid, but the business of making home loans has been especially turbulent in recent years. In the wake of the “perfect storm” that raged through the real estate sector, prolonged low interest rates have powered a steady gale for refinances. But what happens when those winds inevitably calm?

It’s too early to tell whether evolving social and economic trends will change the mortgage lending cycle permanently (read more about this in bonus coverage at cumanagement.org/041713newnormal), but navigating the truest course to avoid the need to hire, train and then lay off originators and processors still comes down to the tried-and-true strategy of building your credit union’s reputation as the place homebuyers turn for financing. Even when refi demand dims, lenders with a solid share of the purchase money market can continue to sail along.

CUs can’t change the cyclical demand for mortgages, so they must meet it, says Deborah Atherton, VP/real estate lending for $1.3 billion, 110,000-member Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union, St. Louis. “You have to be proactive to get people on staff. Otherwise, you might end up with a huge pipeline, and it’s too late. Members won’t wait around forever.”

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