The Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends

Despite common interests, realtors and credit unions have never really been “friends.” Perhaps now is the time to extend the olive branch for everyone’s benefit.


I was flipping channels the other night when I came across Oklahoma!, Rogers and Hammerstein's 1955 movie musical about, well, Oklahoma . I knew it was this particular movie because of the song the cast was singing:

The farmer and the cowman should be friends,

Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends.

One man likes to push a plough, the other likes to chase a cow,

But that's no reason why they cain't be friends.

I hadn't seen Oklahoma! since my high school performed it more than 25 years ago. A friend of mine played one of the farmers, so, consequently, I heard this song a lot – way too much, as a matter of fact.  

This trip down memory lane started me thinking about credit unions, mortgage lending and Realtors. Seem like an odd connection? Let's say someone was going to write Mortgage! the musical. Whether this is a good idea is up for debate, but one of the hit songs would certainly be "The Realtor® and the Credit Union Should be Friends." The lyrics for this little ditty are easy:

The Realtor® and the Credit Union should be friends.

Oh, the Realtor® and the Credit Union should be friends.

One of 'em likes to sell a home, the other likes to close a loan,

And that's the reason why they gotta wind up friends. 

That Realtors® and Credit Unions should be friends is apparent. Why we aren't, after being mortgage lenders for thirty years, should be apparent, too. Realtors® have no need to develop lender relationships because lenders come to them. Why? Because that's were the loans are and savvy lenders know it. Credit unions, at least until recently, haven't developed Realtor® relationships. In fact, our industry has done quite the opposite. I don't know how many times over the years I've had credit unions tell me they don't talk to Realtors® -- not to establish relationships and certainly not during the mortgage loan process. Yet, in order to get to the next level, in order to achieve 'Two to Ten', Realtor® strategies are essential.

Bridging the Gap

What strategy do we pursue? There are several schools of thought on the best way to work with the Real Estate Community. One is developing individual Realtor® Relationships. It's been done successfully by a number of credit unions. It's hard work, yet it pays off. Another approach is developing relationships with real estate brokerages the communities you serve. This works well, too. Yet a third option is to use one of the national real estate programs.

Whichever the strategy, it has to produce a win for the Realtor®, the member and the credit union. Defining the win is relatively easy:

1) The Realtor®. Realtors® are primarily concerned with effortless closings. Their reputations and future referral business depends on it. They need to know when they bring a member/buyer to a credit union for financing that it will close economically and on time without any difficulties. They also want to be kept informed during the lending process. Establishing regular communications develops strong relationships. The other Realtor® is now qualified for referral business from the credit union. Members shopping for homes or selling homes need real estate agents. Refer them to a Realtor® you trust.

2) The Credit Union. We want the loan. There's no more important expectation to set when establishing a relationship. If you refer a member, you want to make the loan, and you don't want the member cross-sold. In return, your credit union will provide the best overall value for the buyer every time, you'll keep the Realtor® informed, and you'll close on time.

3) The Member. Buying a home is stressful. When they know their agent is guiding the real estate transaction, their credit union is handling the financing, and the two of you are talking with one another, then they can relax.. The other win for the member could be a rebate of a portion of their real estate commission. That depends on the strategy you choose and the arrangements you make.

“The Realtor® and the Credit Union should be Friends.”

It's up to us to make the first move. We have to make the effort if this essential strategy is to succeed. And it won't be easy at first. Even with present market conditions, Realtors® have established lender relationships that are working. The subprime debacle, however, does have many of them looking for trusted lenders. The most trustworthy lender anyone will ever work with is a credit union. We have a great story to tell, have a terrific product mix, offer the best lending value in our communities, and close reliably. There are Realtors® in your communities that want you as a friend, they just don't know it yet. Choose a strategy, arrange some meetings, develop some relationships, put more members in homes, and move towards ‘Two to Ten'.

If someone out there really wants to write Mortgage! the musical, I've got one other song title for you, "I'm Just a Lender Who Cain't Say No." If it becomes a big Broadway hit and a movie, I'll expect royalties!



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Nov. 26, 2007


  • Dan should continue to write using broadway shows as inspiration and I think that CATS should be nect.
  • Great article. As credit unions continue to develop relationships with realtors I wonder how the 11/28/07 CUNA news article relating to Realtors forming their own credit union will effect us going from two to ten?
    Deborah Atherton