A 3-Pronged Approach Provides High-Impact Lending

Community development loan officers at Wright-Patt build on the cooperative’s position as Dayton’s leading mortgage lender.

 
 

Top-Level Takeaways

  • WPCU is the largest single mortgage lender in its home market.
  • Designated loan officers help individual lenders while building community partnerships. That approach is part of the cooperative’s three-stakeholder model by which it measures all products and services.

A three-pronged approach to lending has helped Wright-Patt Credit Union ($6.6B, Beavercreek, OH) become the largest mortgage lender in its home market and become a positive force in the communities it serves.

“We create programs we think will help all members, but we do focus on those who need the most help with their finances,” says Eric Bugger, chief lending officer at the Buckeye State cooperative.

Eric Bugger, Chief Lending Officer, Wright-Patt Credit Union

Helping those in the most need is the first approach in that three-pronged model. The second approach helps members become homeowners, and the third is simply being there.

Helping Those In Need

The credit union’s focus on those who are the most financially vulnerable includes loan products that help members avoid payday lending traps, afford a reliable vehicle, receive a first-time users credit card, or obtain a personal loan for as little as $100.

“We’ve also put together special loan programs during times of need,” Bugger says.

That includes a temporary shutdown loan when the federal government might shut down, emergency loans for tornadoes, and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Helping Members Become Homeowners

Approach two comprises programs that help members become homeowners. Along with FHA, VA, and conventional loan products, WPCU currently offers a 5/5 ARM at rates as much as 100 basis points below a 30-year conventional note.

“It’s attractive to first-time homebuyers because they know the rate is fixed for at least the first five years,” Bugger says.

CU QUICK FACTS

WRIGHT-PATT CREDIT UNION
DATA AS OF 3.31.21

HQ: Beavercreek, OH
ASSETS: $6.6B
MEMBERS: 426,927
BRANCHES: 33
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 27.8%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 18.1%
ROA: 2.18%

That time frame allows the borrower to build equity and then, if they choose, move into a larger home.

“Because a 5/5 ARM isn’t available on the secondary market, we use our balance sheet strength to offer this as a portfolio product,” Bugger, a 10-year WPCU lending executive, adds.

Being There

It’s important to WPCU to serve all members, especially those who might not have easy access to traditional financial services.

“We have a strong presence in underserved areas,” Bugger says.

Most visibly, he says, the credit union serves areas on the west side of Dayton, which several banks have abandoned over the years, leaving residents without many options for in-person financial services.

“We now have three member-service centers serving this area, including a newly upgraded one,” Bugger says. “It’s consistently one of our busiest member centers.”

Join the Impact Network to take advantage of the resources in the Credit Union Impact Center. Both are initiatives from Callahan & Associates designed to help member-owned financial cooperatives focus on “the credit union difference” they make in their communities.

The Power Of Community Loan Originators And Co-Ops

The credit union’s robust physical presence includes mortgage loan originators who work with community organizations to identify and assist prospective homeowners with financial counseling and much more.

In the past and present, WPCU has partnered with organizations such as the Home Ownership Center of Dayton, the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, and the Homeownership Center of Dayton.

“Whether it’s down payment assistance, educational opportunities, or just spending more time with a member to explain the process, these community development mortgage loan originators are experts we put in these areas to make sure members get the help they need,” Bugger says.

The loan officers also put out the word about specific properties under development that could offer financial assistance for first-time homebuyers and others. For example, WPCU is working with Co-Op Dayton to redevelop blighted residential properties around a new co-op grocery store that was built in an underserved area of west Dayton.

“For potential buyers of these properties, our goal is to create a good alternative mortgage product and financial education similar to what we do several times a year in our first-time homebuyer seminars,” the WPCU CLO says.

“If you’re serious about helping members from lower-income areas, put someone in charge to carry out your vision.”

Eric Bugger, Chief Lending Officer, Wright-Patt Credit Union

A Virtuous Cycle

WPCU is expanding its presence in the Columbus and Cincinnati markets, but it has by far its largest impact in its home market of Dayton-Kettering, where it funded 10.7% of all mortgage originations in 2020, according to HMDA data. That places WPCU at No. 2 in its core market behind Union Savings Bank.

“If you’re serious about helping members from lower-income areas, put someone in charge to carry out your vision,” Bugger says. “If it’s just a small part of someone’s job description, there’s a good chance it’ll get neglected when they get busy doing other things.”

That said, Bugger says WPCU doesn’t differentiate in terms of marketing or advertising to specific parts of its markets.

“All our members have access to everything we offer,” he says.

That all-inclusive access is an integral part of the cooperative’s three-stakeholder model: members, employees, and the credit union itself. The credit union weighs every new product or service for the benefit it would bring to all three before moving forward. If it seems odd to include employees, which WPCU calls “partners,” it won’t after Bugger explains the strong vision the credit union has for how the model creates a virtuous cycle.

“If we take great care of our employees, they’ll take better care of our members than other financial institutions,” he says. “Those members will then take better care of the credit union by supporting it with their business, and the credit union will then have more resources to take care of the partners. And the cycle goes on. It’s a combination that has worked extremely well for us for a long time.”

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