Working With Realtors? Don't Worry, Be Happy

Separate fears from reality and embrace the power of these strategic partnerships.


Nearly 90% of home buyers used a Realtor® or broker when they bought their homes in 2012, according to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors. And during the same period, credit unions across the country originated a collective $124 billion in first mortgage loans — a record-setting 7% of the market.

Reliance on real estate agents is on the rise, and so is the usage of credit unions. Doesn’t it make sense to accelerate your growth in first mortgages by partnering with Realtors – the majority stakeholders in real estate transactions? It’s a strategy that can lead to success, but some credit unions have doubts about working with Realtors.

To better understand why some worry about Realtors, CU Realty Services conducted a survey of 200 employees of client credit unions to examine the reasons for and against working together. The results are published in a white paper, “Realtors: Friend or Foe? A Study of Credit Union Fears and Success in Protecting Members’ Mortgage Business.”

What’s There To Fear?

Responses to the survey identified six main concerns:

  • Agents can be difficult to work with, failing to keep credit union loan officers in the loop.
  • They can be demanding, insisting on information the credit union isn’t comfortable giving.
  • Realtors may give poor service, harming members and reflecting badly on the credit union.
  • Agents try to control the process, potentially harming member relationships.
  • They direct members elsewhere, to a favorite lender.
  • They don’t understand credit unions, including their “people-helping-people” philosophy.

While this list includes credit unions’ biggest perceived fears, those concerns prove unwarranted in reality. For example, the No. 1 fear was that real estate agents would send members to other lenders. Yet most respondents said working with Realtors had actually increased their first mortgages and provided a valuable service to members. In fact, among CU Realty Services’ clients responding to the survey, 97% said their current agents provide members with responsive, helpful service and 94% believe the agents are professional and ethical. A full 81% believe their agents always help their credit unions retain members’ mortgage loans.

So while there may be concerns that working with Realtors might result in lost loans, good Realtor relationships have netted just the opposite. The most frequently cited advantages are to enhance member service and grow purchase mortgages. By working with their Realtors for the shared mission of providing value to the member, CU Realty Services’ clients feel there is a much greater chance of winning the loan.

Put Your Fears Behind You

The key to more purchase mortgages is to get past the fears of working with agents, recognize the advantages of a well-managed program, and understand your options. Credit unions can choose to create their own internal program or partner with a qualified service provider, such as CU Realty Services, that offers an easy-to-implement, turn-key program.

It takes effort and financial resources to ensure an effective real estate program that works in both your members’ and the credit union’s best interest. Many have found that contracting with a service partner that manages these activities and automates lead-tracking is a smart solution that can save considerable staff time — and money.

Tina Powers is Chief Operating Officer for CU Realty Services, a CUSO helping credit unions increase their purchase mortgage business by becoming their members’ first point of contact when buying or selling a home. For more information, contact tina@curealty.comor visit



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