Guarded optimism for 2012
In 2012, mortgage lending activity will depend on market conditions and rates, as well as pending regulatory changes, says Wallace Jones, vice president/national training director for CU Members Mortgage.
“Overall, credit unions looking to grow their mortgage market share will be in good shape,” he says. “It helps that the public’s perception of credit unions is better than banks’.”
Regionally, Jones says the hardest-hit housing markets are Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Michigan. “Hopefully these markets are now poised to recover in that they’ve probably bottomed out. The rest of the U.S. has been more stable overall, but still has pockets where the housing market has struggled.”
Tom Pisapia, executive vice president at QR Lending Inc., says 2012 “will show a continued increase in mortgage demand at credit unions as more people migrate from banks and mortgage brokers to the security and reliability of their local credit unions. Just as they’re viewed as an attractive alternative to banks on the deposit and credit card side, credit unions will have the opportunity to capture an even larger share of the residential mortgage market.”
A big assist to credit unions will come from HARP 2 (the revised version of the Home Affordable Refinance Program), which Pisapia says could help qualify one million new borrowers. “It reduces mortgage rates and eliminates the loan-to-value restriction.
“Eligible borrowers are those who’ve been making their payments and have been late with only one payment in the past year—people who’ve been struggling to do the right thing,” he continues. “Plus, appraisals aren’t always necessary.”
Therefore, Pisapia heads into 2012 with optimism. “Smaller lenders are faster and have better terms than the megabanks. That is a tremendous marketing advantage. In this situation, we certainly will give credit unions marketing advice, but we really don’t have to give them any ammunition against big banks.”