Criteria for Choosing a Real Estate Partner

A traditional way to evaluate business options is to issue a request for proposal and then examine the different options either with a consultant or alone.


A traditional way to evaluate business options is to issue a request for proposal and then examine the different options either with a consultant or alone. The exercise of due diligence becomes more crucial if a credit union seeks a true partner.

Getting behind the data of the proposal and looking at the business partner first hand is required. Who runs the organization? What is their background? How did they "learn the business?" What is the firm's financial picture? Who are their key partners? How is their technology managed? What is their strategic planning process and direction?

This effort to learn about the organization is crucial. A team of credit union managers should be involved because the impact of any true partnership will be felt across the organization. Evaluating the fit and culture of a prospective partner is a judgement that cannot be reduced to spread sheets and product descriptions.

This criteria should be used when choosing any kind of partner, including a real estate partner. As a credit union, you may ask yourself, why do I need a real estate partner? What should I look for in a real estate partner? What kinds of questions should ask prospective partners? What are the benefits for my credit union and members?

One reason why credit unions should choose real estate partners is because of money-the rebate their members receive from the partner. This is a big attraction when people are looking to buy or sell homes and can make the difference between your mortgage department getting the mortgage or having the client go elsewhere. A real estate partnership can embrace the goals of your credit union mortgage department by supporting the member and encouraging the pre-qualification that their credit union mortgage counselors are ready and willing to do. The right real estate partnership is a benefit to the members and supports the production goals of the mortgage department.

Questions you should ask potential real estate partners:

    1. Was the program specifically designed for credit unions? Do you understand the credit union philosophy?·
      • Will you put your program in writing, commit to a certain number of years, and can you cancel if you are not happy with the results or the performance?
    2. Do you have the history of any credit union clients who have been in the program over five years? Can you receive a performance history?
      • Can you provide the names of CEOs or mortgage managers who recommend you or give me a list of credit unions who use the program so you can check up?
      • Do you have a good track record of providing free materials and support to the marketing department? Do you provide brochures, statement stuffers, posters, help with seminars and fairs?
      • Do you do what you promise?
      • Are you responsive and easy to communicate with?
    3. Do you understand the credit union industry enough to do more work inside the credit union?
      • Do you sponsor or co-sponsor events to reach the goals of credit union membership? For example, do you sponsor fairs, seminars, round tables or SEG group meetings?
      • Do you work inside to the credit union to train all of its employees, from the CEO to the tellers?
    4. Do you train your agents?
      • Do you train your agents to meet the demands of the credit union mortgage consultants?
      • Do you provide a formal training program to teach real estate counselors the credit union industry and to teach the credit union mortgage department the real estate industry?
      • Do you provide in-house training to increase the capture ratio of mortgages?
      • Is there someone who is always available? Are there people who will solve problems and respond in a timely manner with calls and visits?
    5. Do you have a reporting system?
      • Do you send a daily "who called," report, which tells the credit union who called, what they were interested in, and demographics?
      • Do you provide quarterly reports to both marketing and mortgage?
      • Will you give me a report card on member satisfaction? This report should rate everyone involved in the program and should tell you (if you did not get the mortgage) why you did not get the mortgage and who did.
      • Do you have an efficient accounting system so that money is given to members in a timely fashion?
    6. Are you national in scope and capability? How do you treat international members?

Partnerships are two-way. Both parties should work toward creating a relationship that will help them reach their goals. Be prepared for the partner to ask questions of the credit union and set parameters on the relationship also. The partner should be clear about the directions he or she hopes the two organizations can go together.

The way in which these relationships are developed and the commitments expected must be explicit. Credit unions often sign up for a service with high involvement, but after the newness wears off, settle into a "users" role not devoting the energy and time agreed to up front. To avoid these kind of difficulties, be sure to ask the right questions so your partner will know exactly what is expected of them and you'll know exactly what is expected of you.

(This article is a paid advertisement by Smart Move and should not be read as an endorsement by Callahan & Associates/ )



This sponsored content article is provided to the credit union community for shared insights and knowledge from a recognized solutions provider in the industry. Please note that the views and opinions offered here do not reflect those of Callahan & Associates, and Callahan does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer.

If you are interested in contributing an article on, please contact our Callahan Media team at or 1-800-446-7453.


Aug. 7, 2000



No comments have been posted yet. Be the first one.