Michael Palladino doesn’t work in the mortgage business.
“We consider ourselves to be in the relationship business,” he says.
As CEO of Mortgage Markets CUSO, Palladino and president Victor Petroni enhance the mortgage process for credit unions and members by offering expertise, a quick application process, and a less intimidating mortgage experience.
Wholly owned by First New England Federal Credit Union ($68.7M, East Hartford, CT), Mortgage Markets serves 23 Connecticut credit unions. Last year, the CUSO originated $140 million in first mortgages. Although Mortgage Markets gives credit unions the option to hold loans the CUSO originates, it ultimately sells 90% of its originations on the secondary market.
Mortgage Markets helps its credit unions build relationships and share expertise with one another. The CUSO staff has substantial real estate experience, so it can operate decisively when new rules and regulations arise, says Petroni, who runs the CUSO on a day-to-day basis. Such expertise has come in handy when helping credit unions navigate regulatory changes. After NCUA issued a letter imploring credit unions to examine the risk in their real-estate lending portfolios, Petroni and his staff developed a system, using property values, credit scores, and member relationships, to let credit unions pinpoint the risk areas in their portfolios.
Credit unions and members also benefit from the CUSO’s software, built by Prime Alliance, which cuts the application process in half. Palladino and Petroni recognize the mortgage experience can be intimidating, and they do what they can to make it as straightforward as possible.
“We’re talking about going above and beyond to make sure the member is taken care of,” Palladino says. Going above and beyond has included offering rate flexibility to high-performing credit unions and honoring a loan officer’s past promise to members.
“The relationship between the member and the credit union is what’s important here,” Palladino says.
To ensure members have a rewarding borrowing experience, Mortgage Markets uses a third-party survey company to gather feedback on its lending process. On the survey, borrowers rate their experience from 0 to 7. The CUSO’s average score is 6.4; additionally, 98% of those surveyed would recommend the CUSO to another member or a relative.
The survey demonstrates how the CUSO forges strong relationships with members, who might one day return more business to the service organization.