BY ROBIN GRIMES
Today’s home buyers are nothing like their earlier counterparts. In years gone by, if you wanted to get information on a home listed for sale you had to contact a real estate agent. Agents controlled access to homes and information, and they also influenced the selection of lenders. The internet changed all that. Now most home buyers start their home search online, without an agent, and they can access mortgage applications from the same real estate portal.
The Mortgage and Real Estate Industries Have Evolved. SPIRE Credit Union Needed to Evolve as Well.
Founded in 1934, SPIRE Credit Union has been offering mortgage loans to our members for decades. The strategy was pretty simple: advertise competitive interest rates, wait for members to call, write and close the loan, and then—as is common—sell off the loan. But times have changed. Home sales were up, but our purchase mortgage volume numbers were stagnant. Obviously, we were missing opportunities.
As an organization, we have set a goal to implement a full-service real estate solution beginning in 2018. We felt strongly that making real estate services a top priority would pay off with a lift in member loyalty and peace of mind. The new program will focus on two critical innovations that are important to our members: in-house loan servicing and a turnkey real estate program, which will be implemented in phases.
Over the years, we found that our members were disappointed when they learned that their loan was being sold off. This is because they really want to do business with SPIRE and they want to keep that business at SPIRE. Member loyalty like that deserves a reciprocal measure of allegiance from us, so it was an easy decision to add in-house loan servicing to our larger, long-term plan.
Because home buyers now start their search on the internet, we knew we needed a turnkey real estate program that could provide our members with online tools to search for homes, set up property alerts, and connect with qualified, local real estate agents. Some CUs opt to build their own system in-house. With my experience at other credit unions, I knew that creating this kind of turnkey program in-house would be too difficult. Instead, we were thrilled to find all that we wanted and more in HomeAdvantage®, a turnkey real estate program from CU Realty Services. Because we implemented HomeAdvantage before we executed any other new tactics, it is the foundational component of SPIRE’s new comprehensive real estate program.