WASHINGTON — Want to buy your first home with little or nothing down and maybe get a refund on part of your agent’s commission?
Consider a credit union that is aggressively growing its mortgage business. Credit unions have been expanding their presence in housing — more than quadrupling their share of total mortgage market volume in the past nine years, according to the National Association of Federal Credit Unions — by offering deals you simply can’t find at most banks.
Case in point: The country’s largest credit union, the $64 billion-asset Navy Federal, closed more than $1 billion in home loans during March alone. That’s big. But what’s really extraordinary: 59 percent of the loans went to first-time buyers, and two-thirds of those were from a demographic slice missing in action for years — borrowers ages 18 to 34. The historical norm for first-time buyer participation in home purchasing is around 40 percent, but currently is just 28 percent to 29 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.
So how is Navy Federal pulling in hordes of young first-timers? By offering loans that address their needs — zero-down payments, no private mortgage insurance premiums, plus the standard low-down payment menus of the Federal Housing Administration (3.5 percent minimum) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (zero minimum) loans. Navy Federal also is tapping into a membership base of 5 million members worldwide and adding young new members quickly. It’s open to all branches of the armed services, active and retired, civilian employees, contractors and a wide range of relatives.
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