Charles Lee, Home Buyer in Los Angeles, CA

Can you comment on choosing credit union for mortgage lender rather than a large bank?

Asked by Charles Lee, Los Angeles, CA Fri Mar 9, 2012

I have my checking/savings acct. with a credit union, and I do like them for service, convenience, etc. They offer mortgage also, so I would like to consider them as one of the options for lender. Please provide some experience/comments/observations on advantage or disadvantage. Thank you.

Help the community by answering this question:


As a home buyer in this market, we shopped around and compared one big bank, a credit union, two online brokers and one live broker. We got 5 different pre-approvals to go house shopping which sounds like work and overkill. Maybe it was, but having at least two different loan offers to compare when it was time to lock the interest rate on the loan, worked quite well.

At the end we paid $500 more in fees than the lowest cost loan, but the loan broker was available every time I called with a question. Service matters when you are getting a loan on a house, and I didn't want to lose the house trying to save a couple hundred bucks.

It takes more time to get more than one pre-approval, but I think it was worth it. I got my house and got a great rate. The broker also had a deal to do re-fi's if the market dropped at no charge. We already have taken advantage of this and just finished a re-fi saving us another $200 a month.

Don't assume the credit union is the least expensive. Ask if they keep or sell the loans and what their fees are. They very likely sell them just like everyone else. Do yourself a favor and get two or three quotes. You will be amazed at the differences in fees.

Happy House Hunting
Kelly Bourquin
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 13, 2012
I do all my "banking" with a credit union.
We just recently did a refi on our mortgage with our credit union

The level of service we received was outstanding!!!!

My credit union also provides insurance services. They are becoming my GO TO place for financial and insurance needs.

Kawain Payne, Realtor
Prudential California Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 31, 2013
Brass tacks: the LO at a credit union makes a lot less commission per deal. A broker is motivated to go the extra mile and make sure you get the best deal on the open market. Perfect example: I was in BofA branch off Michelson the other day. Their 30 yr fixed was 4.625% AND 1 point fee plus lender fees.

A $300K loan would cost the borrower about $4500. Good deal kinda.
I priced the same deal through my channel, I was @ 4.50% zero cost.

As Branch Manager, I get to issue a lender credit pay100% the fees, run the loan through my platform and get it done in 20 days.

Most banks take Foorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrever to process a loan and grind you daily for paperwork.
A Mortgage Broker or banker like me has their foot on the gas everyday. After a loan app with me, Iwill tell you exactly how it will play out and when the loan will get hung up IF any.

The kid fresh out of college has no true incentive to knock that loan out any sooner nor does he/she have a tool chest to beat the underwriter at their own game ( yet ) Takes 10 yrs to build that arsenal and respect from the operations side of this business. Most " banks" employ low level front end workers and farm out the operations side out of state and pay a processor and underwriter $35K yr in smaller markets. Where here in CA, you pay twice the money. But you get stuck with the painful process usually.

The banks know they'll sell brand over service. Sadly, people go that direction because they think brand is safe.

Funny thing is that Wells, Chase, Citi etc or some other branded banks end up servicing my loans anyways...

Weird to think this way but as a banker, I can beat them 10 times out of ten in service, turn time and rate.

Why? We lend the cash, we run the upfront risk, I pay to process and deliver a completed ready to service product. You default in first 12 months or if fraud is committed, we lenders have to buyback that loan plus interest. So, I and most other guys like me work very hard at delivering a very solid, scrubbed clean product, fast!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 25, 2013
Richard says:

"I happen to be a mortgage banker, but the best deals on price are definitely available from brokers.

If you are buying a house though, the agents will not accept offers being financed by brokers. So if you are buying a house you should consider a mortgage banker (direct lender) such as myself. "
The second paragraph of that is simply untrue. I issue pre-approvals all the time that are accepted as do other brokers. Don't be dissuaded from using a broker by statements like this. If agents are not accepting pre-approvals from brokers they are missing the boat. Just make sure it's a "real" preapproval and the work has been put in to insure accuracy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 25, 2013
It appears that the Banks have used the recent mortgage crisis as a license to charge more and deliver really bad service.

I happen to be a mortgage banker, but the best deals on price are definitely available from brokers.

If you are buying a house though, the agents will not accept offers being financed by brokers. So if you are buying a house you should consider a mortgage banker (direct lender) such as myself.

On credit unions, are really glorified brokers, as they are for the most part brokering all mortgages. I have seen some of them do pretty well as far as service and price while many of the them are not so good. It seems to be hit and miss with credit unions.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 25, 2013
There's no doubt about it. Credit unions are great. Consumer loans, signature loans and various bank products are their specialty. If your credit union has a unique true in house product, I'd say check it out. When it comes to mortgage lending, Most credit unions these days only lend products that are endorsed via Fannie Mae, FHA and Freddie Mac which is the very same platform all mortgage lenders originate loans. I'm a branch manager of a mortgage bank here in OC and after 15 years in mortgage lending, I have never lost a loan to a credit union.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 25, 2013
Kelly Bourquin, really has the best answer. If you are buying a house you really need the lender with the best service, even if it costs $500 more in closing costs.
Your purchase contract has contingencies in it for your protection. Miss your deadlines, and if for some reason the deal does not come together, then you are in real danger of losing your good faith deposit. For most people the loss of the deposit means they are no longer able to buy.
Here are some things that need to be done on time:
1. The appraisal needs to be completed on time: if not and the home appraises too low, you may lose your deposit. A low appraisal done on time is more likely to result in a lower purchase price, which could save you thousands. That is becuase you have the power to back out and keep your deposit if it were done on time. If it is not done, the seller can nut up and force you to walk away leaving your deposit.
2. The full approval needs to be done on time; you have a time period when you must remove your loan contingency. If for some reason the loan is declined after that, you could lose your deposit.
3. The loan needs to close on time: if not the whole deal could fall apart and you could lose your deposit.
Nothing is worse t hen having people, waiting for loans to close as promised, when all of their belongings are sitting in moving trucks. Trust me people get real cranky, real fast when this happens.
While every good real estate agent knows this, for some reason most lending institutions do not seem to be aware of it. Choose your lender wisely.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
I use a credit union for my personal banking.

I love the service I receive.

They have some limits and can not provide ALL the services banks provide, but I would choose a credit union over a bank anyday, not just for personal banking, but credit cars, home loans, auto loans, and mortgage loans.

Best of Luck to You!
Kawain Payne, Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 18, 2013
Just in case you're looking for the "Long Beach School Employee's Federal Credit Union" and can't find it, it's now the LBS Financial Credit Union. I've been a member there since moving to California in 1989 thank to my mother-out-law who retired from Long Beach USD.

If you haven't made your move yet, I would advise talking with your credit union as well as a mortgage broker or two to see who can give you the best rates and costs. Don't put it off too long. No one really knows where rates are headed but, given their historic lows, I would venture a guess that it will only (eventually) be up.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 17, 2013
Hello Charles,

I bank with Long Beach Schools Employees Credit Union.

I have worked with them on home loans, and found the experience very positive. That being said I urge you to check with your credit union as well as another direct lender and weigh your options. Choose the rates and terms that are most beneficial to you.

Best Regards,
Kawain Payne
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 16, 2013
I think that it is important to check into all avenues of financing. You can not be certain you are getting the best "deal" until you have done the research. Every persons situation is different and so looking into different lenders can help you to obtain the best rate and loan for you. If you would like a list of lenders that I have personally worked with and trust I have it readily available.

Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 15, 2012
I would say a company like mine, we are neither a bank nor a broker. We are a direct lender. But it really depends on your situation. Most people are going to get t heir best deal from a broker.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012

Having access to some excellent mortgage brokers, I gave two of them the opportunity to work on a refinance of my personal home mortgage. They both failed miserably! Both made promises that they couldn't keep as far as fees and interest rates. One of my wife's coworkers suggested we talk to a credit union of which we were not members - we are members of at least two other credit unions. Both failed to lock our rate when I told them we should and, as I feared, the rate went up before they did so.

We ended up doing our refi with the credit union because they quoted an interest rate and stuck to it. I'm not completely anti-broker as they can offer a much wider range of programs than can an institution (bank or credit union). However, I feel you can't go wrong with a credit union and you can join almost any one of them in your local area.

As has been said in previous answers, you should use all resources available. Get quotes from mortgage brokers (both traditional and internet-based) as well as credit unions.

Best of luck!
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
Hello Chul Lee,

Fantastic Question! Credit Union's usually offer lower rates and the loan costs less. I would recommend you to talk with your Credit Union and see what they can offer you and take with a Mortgage broker and see what type of financing they will offer you. Somebody on this thread mentioned I.Mortgage, they have some good programs that are competitive and other instituations have not been able to do. They are a direct lender. If I may be of any service, I would be happy to take your calls. Good Luck!
Lesley Harris, Realtor
(562) 673-0943
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012

Most Credit Unions "broker" out their loans. What does this mean for the consumer - you? The Credit Union will take your application and start knocking on "lenders doors" -

Saying - "will you do this loan?" - At that point - the "broker" is dependant on the lender and has ZERO control over the loan process.

Regardless of who you use - Make sure it's a Direct Lender. Direct Lenders have TOTAL control over the loan process since they are using their own money. In short - Direct Lenders have more flexibility during the loan process.

My company, Castle & Cooke Mortgage is a direct lender. We are owned by David Murdock - who is founder & chairman of the board of Dole Pineapple. We are a very nimble company & have an 8 day loan guarantee. We are the top 1% lenders approved by Fannie, Freddie & Ginnie.

Feel free to call my cell (949)212-4578

Best of luck!

Grant Fawcett
Castle & Cooke Mortgage
NMLS: 832635
Cell: (949)212-4578
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
I would choose my local credit union any day over a large national bank. They have comparable, if not better, rates and fees, and their service will be much better. Also, I've had great service from smaller regional banks.

For example, I recently sold a rental property that had a 1st mortgage through Bank of America and a second mortgage through Anchor (local regional bank). I had to get some information from each bank to get things set for closing. It took me 2 min on the phone with my local regional bank. It took me 3 phone calls, getting cut off twice, and 30 min to get the answer I needed out of Bank of America.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
Hi Chul,
I am a co-owner of a mortgage bank, so, of course, I would love the opportunity to win your business. However, I will be honest with you in saying that Credit Unions typically have great rates for their members. While they tend to be conservative (for a good reason), they are wonderful to work with.

I would suggest, as others have mentioned, that you receive a quote from several sources, prior to making a final decision. Also, be sure to compare apples to apples; make certain that the terms of each loan are the same. For example, if you will be receiving a no points, no fees loan with one lender, you will want to obtain a quote for a no points, no fees loan with all other lenders, to really know how they compare with each other.

If you would like more information, or would like to receive a quote, feel free to contact me at (714) 721-6024 or by email at Please also visit my website (link included below) for free information and articles about how to prepare for a loan, and how to avoid ptifalls that many borrowers are unaware of.

Good luck to you,
Gina Lemos
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
I would recommend looking at the programs of both and additionally looking at lenders like iMortgage who seem to offer more flexibility and first time home buyer programs.

The bigger banks are likely to be firm about their guidelines if issues come up in your transaction such as repairs or costs. Credit unions tend to be conservative when it comes to financing and rates.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
Morning Chul Lee,

I too belong to a Credit Union and I do enjoy the personal service I receive.
Regarding the mortgage side, Credit Unions do have some niche products & programs that other bankers and/or brokers can't offer. Although these bankers/brokers have access to many, many Corresponding banks, which allows them to have selection and the rates are very aggressive (low).
My advice is to get a quote from you Credit union and other local bankers. There should be absolutely no Obligation.

Hope this helps...


Alex Vargas
Weichert Realtors
(714) 269-8775 Mobile
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 9, 2012
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