Wright-Patt Credit Union has record year for home loans

This year’s improving housing market is showing up on the balance sheets of local banks and credit unions.

Double-digit increases in homes sold and historically low interest rates have helped make 2012 a record year for Wright-Patt Credit Union Inc. in home loans.

The Fairborn-based credit union, Ohio’s largest, closed through the end of October more than 3,000 loans for refinances and new home purchases, a 46 percent increase from the prior year, said Tim Mislansky, chief lending officer of Wright-Patt. That’s the same as $380 million in total dollar value of loans issued.

Financial institutions are doing more home loans this year as homeowners and homebuyers take advantage of a better economy, low home prices and interest rates. For Wright-Patt to have its best year ever in number of home loans and loan volume demonstrates the credit union is growing its mortgage business and gaining business from other local lenders, Mislansky said.

“We’re taking market share away from others,” he said. “We expected to have a good year, but it’s better than expected.”

By number of loans, Wright-Patt grew to be Dayton’s third largest mortgage lender in 2011 behind Fifth Third Bank and Union Savings Bank, according to analysis of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data provided by Mislansky. Four years ago, Wright-Patt was the eighth largest lender.

The increase in demand is so much that Mislansky said its created a staffing problem. Wright-Patt added about 20 mortgage lending jobs this year for a total 91 employees in that division, and currently has 10 positions open.

“We’re not able to close a loan as fast as we like to,” he said. “Mortgage talent is difficult to come by.”

Most of Wright-Patt’s home loans this year — 2,000 of the total 3,000 — were refinances. Just purchase volume, about 1,000 loans, increased 53 percent this year from 2011.

Also having a record year in mortgage applications is Day Air Credit Union of Kettering.

“Refinances happen because rates are coming down and people are saving money, but we really like to see purchase activity because it means someone’s buying a house,” said Bill Burke, president and chief executive officer of Day Air.

Unless interest rates take another significant drop, it will be hard to repeat this year’s level of mortgage activity, said Nick Maxwell, next year’s president of the Dayton Mortgage Bankers Association.

“Interest rates have been so low, it’s really been driven by refinances. It will probably return to more normal levels, although there will still be some good years,” Maxwell said.

Wright-Patt Credit Union is a nonprofit financial cooperative, with 24 branch offices serving Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Greene, Hamilton, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties. Total assets are approximately $2.4 billion.

The bread and butter of credit unions has historically been automotive loans. But increasing awareness of credit unions and their ability to do mortgages is driving more customers through their doors as the economy improves, Mislansky said.

Wright-Patt partners on local housing programs such as the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton. It was a presenting sponsor of this year’s Eco-Rehabarama home show in Huber Heights with Home Builders Association of Dayton. In June, Wright-Patt and Irongate Inc. Realtors of Centerville, one of the region’s larger real estate firms, formed a new mortgage company. That deal makes Wright-Patt Irongate’s preferred home lender to clients.

Every year, Wright-Patt also does the “Amazing Savings Race.” The savings contest most recently focused on saving money to buy a house.

Those efforts have brought more new members to Wright-Patt, but Mislansky thinks they’re also gaining more business from existing customers who are buying a new house or refinancing a loan with them instead of another local bank or credit union.

Ohio credit unions altogether added 28,000 new members from June 2011 to June 2012, according to the trade association Ohio Credit Union League.

Wright-Patt Credit Union owns a mortgage subsidiary, myCUmortgage, that does processing and underwriting services on mortgages for other credit unions. The loan figures above do not include loans done by myCUmortgage.