A Credit Union Could Be Your Best Source For A Mortgage

Financial institutions have pulled back on mortgage lending since the housing bubble burst, but credit unions have increased their mortgage lending substantially. According to CreditUnions.com, credit unions originated 60 percent more first mortgages during the first nine months of 2012 compared to the first nine months of 2011.

While bank customers should shop around for a mortgage lender to ensure they get the lowest rates and fees, credit union members may want to check with their credit union first. Credit unions often offer lower interest rates and fees than other financial institutions, and typically work with members on an individualized basis.

Mary Waterman, lending director of the Montgomery County Employee Federal Credit Union in Germantown, Md., says credit unions can offer closing cost assistance to their members or a credit at the settlement table.

"The underlying philosophy of a credit union is people helping people," says Jeanette Mack, manager of corporate communications with Navy Federal Credit Union in Vienna, Va. "Our members are partners in our non-profit business and any fees we charge go back into the credit union in the form of reduced interest rates."

Mortgage programs

"Credit unions offer every product that other financial institutions offer, including FHA and VA loans, fixed-rate conventional loans for 10, 15, 20 and 30 years and a variety of adjustable rate mortgages," says Scott Toler, president and CEO of the Credit Union Mortgage Association (CUMA) in Fairfax, Va., which supplies mortgage services to 60 credit unions. .

In addition, many credit unions offer their own loan programs to meet member needs.

"We offer our 'Homebuyer's Choice' mortgages with a zero down payment requirement, no private mortgage insurance and up to six percent in seller contributions for closing costs," says Mack. "We also offer refinancing on home loans up to $1 million with 97 percent loan-to-value."