Modifications That Stand the Test of Time

Ent Federal Credit Union outlines the approaches, techniques, and attitudes that contribute to the success of its mortgage modification program.

 
 

Bill Vogeney has served as the senior vice president and chief lending officer for Ent Federal Credit Union ($3B, Colorado Springs, CO) since 2001. Vogeney has 21 years in the credit union industry and previously was vice president of lending for Fairwinds CU in Orlando, FL. Vogeney is a 1983 graduate of Penn State and earned his MBA at the University of Central Florida in 1996. He is currently the secretary/treasurer of the CUNA Lending Council and has written numerous articles for CUES and the Credit Union Association of Colorado.

We’ve been aggressively reaching out to members for loan modifications – first with home equity loans and auto loans starting in early 2008 and then with mortgage loans in late 2008. We realized in late 2007 we were heading for some tough financial times, but even our wildest paranoia could not have predicted the events of late 2008, 2009, and 2010.

We renamed our collections group “member solutions” in early 2008 to help create an atmosphere that encouraged members to call and talk to us. We have typically four to six employees of our 17-person collection staff talking to members who are seeking help.

Processing
We start by finding out why the member needs help. Have they been laid off? Do they have some medical issues? We try to determine what has changed since the loan origination that is causing their problems.

The four to six people in member solutions are not experienced collectors. For the most part, they are employees who have served in other areas of the credit union. They know our members, they understand quality service, and they understand our philosophy. It works.

We’ll then ask the member for documentation – typically income verification or verification of unemployment. We may not verify the borrower has lost their job on an auto loan, but on a home equity or a mortgage loan we try to verify as much as we can.

With mortgage and home equity modifications, we try to determine what other assistance the member has received from other creditors. In many cases, no one else will help. That isn’t necessarily a bad sign. However, of the few home equity modifications that haven’t worked, it is typically because the borrower wasn’t able to get help from their first mortgage lender.

We’ll then get updated credit report information. This is important to us for a variety of reasons. In some cases, we’re talking to members a year after they were laid off, who never previously asked for help. With an updated credit report, we often find they’ve been able to hang in there financially, paying everybody as well as they can. That’s a positive sign, one that encourages us to help. Sometimes we find the borrower has added $50,000 in credit card debt since we made their loan. That can be a sign of a variety of financial problems and a successful loan modification could be based on a wing and a prayer. Sometimes we’ll find the member isn’t paying their mortgage but is paying their credit cards. That’s a sign of “out of whack” priorities.

Read more about Ent FCU’s decisioning process and modification results on CUSP Online.

 

 

 

Aug. 23, 2010


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