For the past several years, many credit unions have been successful by offering mortgage programs to members. According to CUNA’s Credit Union Report Mid-Year 2005, credit union loans grew 10.3 percent over the year ending June 2005, with mortgages accounting for approximately 61 percent of this growth.
Despite rising interest rates, declining refinance activity and the predictions of most economists that the housing market will slow in 2006, interest in mortgage services remains strong among credit union members. In fact, even if the market drops more than 8 percent, as has been predicted by economists at Fannie Mae, 2006 will still be one of the strongest years on record for home sales.
More credit unions are automating their mortgage programs to remain competitive in the financial services market. However, advances in technology have created more tech-savvy consumers and heightened their expectations. Today, perhaps more than ever before, credit union members expect faster response times, “real-time” competitive rates and easy access to information related to the mortgage loan process. While it’s true that not all credit union members are comfortable with online services, many members are. So, when it comes to automation, credit unions can’t afford to lag behind.
Automating mortgage loan processes
There are a number of reasons credit unions why choose to automate their mortgage loan process. A primary reason is that technology allows both efficiency for the credit union and a better experience for the member. Automation frees up staff, adds more consistency to the application process, and allows the credit union to serve more members – this translates into more products, better rates and a better bottom line.
For members, the greatest benefit is the speed and the simplification of the online mortgage application process. Members can watch rates in “real time” and check the status of their loan 24/7. For credit unions, online services create opportunities for ongoing communication with members.
Enhancing the mortgage lending process by adding automation offers growth opportunities for today’s credit unions. Despite holding 8 percent of assets, credit unions have only a 2 percent market share of mortgages. Through the effective use of technology, this percentage should grow, especially when the record numbers of consumers today who are homeowners – 68.8 percent in third quarter 2005 – are factored in.
Next generation of automation
Many resources are available to help credit unions make the switch to online mortgage lending as well as enhance their current online loan process. One such resource is Prime Alliance, a leading credit union provider of state-of-the-art tools designed to improve the mortgage experience for credit union members and enhance mortgage lending efficiencies for the credit union.
Another method of incorporating the ease and efficiency of the Internet into the mortgage lending process is an online application designed to price and process mortgage loan sales. One such tool is Charlie Mac’s ExpressLock. This application automates the steps of the lending process when credit unions sell their loans to Charlie Mac, a credit union-only secondary market investor.
ExpressLock allows credit unions to lock forward commitments or sell closed loans online through a fast, efficient and secure application. This type of tool can enhance a credit union’s growth potential by creating operational efficiencies and propelling the organization into the next generation of online capabilities.
For credit unions that research, ask the right questions, and position the service effectively to their members; the addition of mortgage lending automation offers growth opportunities not only today, but into the future as well.
For more information about Charlie Mac, contact your corporate investment representative.