First-Time Mortgage Help

wooden house with a sign that says first home on it
Stephanie Schwenn Sebring Photo
Contributing Writer
Fab Prose & Professional Writing

2 minutes

A full suite of products is a must for attracting borrowers buying their first home.

First-time homebuyers comprise about a third of the market, indicative of a continued desire among Americans to own a home. However, rising home prices and higher rates have impacted the affordability for many, especially younger buyers, reflects CUES member Tim Mislansky, CCE, SVP of $4.2 billion Wright-Patt Credit Union, Beavercreek, Ohio, and president of the CU’s mortgage CUSO, myCUmortgage.

“A full suite of mortgage products, including conventional products, such as a 30-year fixed rate loan with lower down payment requirements, FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) lending, as well as products designed for a credit union’s balance sheet, is a must to attract these buyers.”

Mislansky notes that FHA lending offers lower down payment requirements than traditional 30-year financing, plus flexibility in underwriting standards. This can include potentially looser credit history requirements and the acceptance of higher debt ratios.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to augment their first-time buyer programs as well to help borrowers overcome the challenges of saving for a down payment or excessive student loan debt. 

“You can help members with programs like HomeReady or HomePossible,” explains Tracy Ashfield, president of Ashfield & Associates, a mortgage training and consulting firm based in Madison, Wisconsin, who will become president of the American Credit Union Mortgage Association in 2020.

“There are a lot of down payment assistance programs out there, some with as little as 3 percent down. Some vary by region, state or even by county. The key is to be a resource for your members and to bring value early in the buying process,” says Ashfield. “Do you have products that meet the needs of younger home buyers? Such as no-PMI (private mortgage insurance) or zero-down programs?”  

“First-time buyers also have a lot of information available and can research both properties and mortgages online before initiating any action,” adds Deborah Ames-Naylor, interviewed shortly before retiring in October from her role as president/mortgage banking and corporate EVP for $23.6 billion PenFed Credit Union, Alexandria, Virginia. “Sites like Zillow and Redfin provide a wealth of information on schools, crime (and) walkability as well as tax data and mortgage payment calculators. Credit unions serious about mortgages need to assess how their lending site competes.”

Developing relationships with area Realtors can also help you to build your brand and attract first-time buyers, says Ashfield. “Most credit unions are recalibrating their mortgage efforts due to shifting market conditions, so attracting first-time buyers is critical. And with aging memberships, it’s important to attract this younger home-buying segment, and to deepen these relationships by building a multi-product solution around their mortgage.”

Stephanie Schwenn Sebring established and managed the marketing departments for three CUs before launching her business. As owner of Fab Prose & Professional Writing, she assists CUs, industry suppliers and any company wanting great content and a clear brand voice. Follow her on Twitter@fabprose.

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