New CUSO Takes Aim At Local Realtors

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Riverside County's Credit Union this month is launching a new service organization subsidiary known as RCCU Mortgage, LLC. The new CUSO has aggressive plans, including forming relationships with real estate offices and future expansion into other states.

David Constantino, who has served as the credit union's vice president and chief mortgage officer since November 2002, is the president and chief operating officer of the new CUSO. Constantino said it is awaiting license approval to operate as a limited liability company, which is expected to be granted before the end of January.

"We consider ourselves up and running," he said. "We are really excited to elevate our production and member service levels. We have gone through the growing pains you get when you establish a new company, but we have enjoyed successes, also."

Thanks to a booming mortgage market and the rapid pace of development in the "Inland Empire" region of Southern California, Riverside County's Credit Union's mortgage lending portfolio grew from $24 million in 2002 to $117 million in 2003. The CU said its new CUSO will help it diversify its mortgage product line.

One area RCCU Mortgage will be concentrating on is establishing relationships with real estate offices. In some cases, mortgage loan consultants from the company will be placed inside Realtors' offices. Additional consultants will have "territories," offering their services to several Realtors in those areas.

According to Constantino, RCCU Mortgage recently inked its first in-house Realtor agreement with a Prudential real estate office in nearby Hemet. "This is the first of many such relationships we anticipate this year. We could have two or three by March," he said. "In the past, credit unions have not had a lot of interaction with the real estate community. But when we have been out introducing RCCU Mortgage, Realtors have been supportive, encouraging and willing to open their doors. Many Realtors have a closed-door policy, but many of the Realtors we've talked to have said even if there is no agreement for an in-house officer, they will allow our floating reps inside their doors."

Online Lending Services

RCCU Mortgage will feature an online application and other services that will allow borrowers to check the status of their loan while in process. More importantly, Constantino said, it will allow the company to offer its services to smaller credit unions via a private label. Members of credit unions other than Riverside County's CU will be able to apply on their home CU's website.

Upon completion of the application, qualifying borrowers will receive automated approval from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac within 30 seconds of clicking the "submit" button. After the application is approved, RCCU Mortgage will process and close the loan. If the borrower is from another credit union, RCCU Mortgage will offer the CU the opportunity to purchase servicing the loan.

Constantino said RCCU Mortgage will begin calling on California-based credit unions about this service in mid-2004. "Other credit unions are doing this, and it has been very well received."

Next year, RCCU Mortgage will be looking to expand beyond California. "We will pursue other credit unions by offering the Internet loan application. We are not looking at every state, but certain states make sense-Arizona, Nevada and Oregon-wherever the doors open," said Constantino.

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