Familiar Faces In Place As CU West Mortgage Readies Itself

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When CUNA Mutual Mortgage Corp. closed its California operations in March, the California Credit Union League and Santa Ana, Calif.-based Orange County Teachers FCU formed a business entity to help area credit unions originate and service mortgage loans.

The new company, known as CU West Mortgage, has now named its first president, Mark Hiatt, who served as senior vice president-loan servicing for CUNA Mutual Mortgage. Hiatt told The Credit Union Journal the new company's target will be small and medium credit unions in Nevada and California.

"We are in set-up mode right now. The process to become a direct lender with Fannie and Freddie is quite lengthy," he said. "All operations and infrastructure must be in place before you apply to Fannie and Freddie-that includes people, systems, processes- everything."

Hiatt said the company has five employees, including him-all of whom formerly worked for CUNA Mutual Mortgage, which consolidated operations in Wisconsin. Other employees are Jane Tsavalas, sales director, Ethel Simmons, senior loan specialist, Rita Robinson, loan assistant and Paula Mieszerski, systems coordinator.

"They know credit unions, they know what we did over there and they understand what service levels credit unions expect," said Hiatt.

Before it is ready to open its doors, CU West Mortgage must hire more employees, select systems, and choose business partners for services such as appraisals, flood determination and tax tracking. Hiatt said he hopes the company will be operational in the fourth quarter of this year.

"We probably won't be with Fannie and Freddie by then, but we will be able to originate and process loans and work with lenders that are familiar with credit unions on a wholesale basis," he said.

While CU West Mortgage will compete with CUNA Mutual Mortgage, Hiatt noted 90% of CUNA Mutual Mortgage's business is correspondent lending, while CU West Mortgage will be retail.

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