The Atlanta-metro area had the 20th highest foreclosure rate among metropolitan areas in the country in the second quarter of 2008. Many homeowners in the area are facing foreclosures, hammered by declining property values and resets of sub-prime adjustable mortgages. Delta Community Credit Union ($2.8 billion, Atlanta, GA) is approaching this battered market with a message focused on communicating that the credit union is a trusted lender, wanting to develop personal relationships with their members.
The credit union is often spotlighted in the local press for the value they provide to their members. “Our mortgage portfolio remains strong, despite the turbulent times facing the real estate market today. We’ve positioned ourselves as a responsible lender members can trust,” explains Pam Davis, vice president of real estate services. To spread the word on their mortgage programs and generate face-to-face interactions with members, the credit union has placed “home loan specialists” on-site in most of their Atlanta-area branches specifically to originate loans for members. But their secondary purpose, and possibly more important, is to establish and foster a local presence for Delta in the community surrounding the branch office.
Offering Trusted Advice
“With mortgages being an important, and often complex sales process for members, our aim is to be sure members have a staff person they can talk with face-to-face,” says Davis. These in-person conversations deepen trust among the members, the community, and the credit union. Member surveys identify trust as a very important factor in the ongoing relationship a member has with the credit union, underscoring its importance in the credit union’s overall strategy.
The home loan specialists have been in their current positions for three years since the program was launched (several have been at the credit union years longer); this position is incorporated into staffing plans when new branches are constructed. With each specialist generating approximately $1 million in first mortgages per month per branch, the initiative’s investment has paid off for Delta Community. They are now looking to build more relationships with other individuals in the community involved in the home purchase process, such as realtors.