SCOTTSDALE, AZ—iQ Credit Union, which serves 85,000 members throughout southwest Washington and Portland, is celebrating dramatic mortgage growth since implementing the HomeAdvantage® program from CU Realty Services. The turnkey real estate marketing platform helps credit unions retain more of its members’ mortgage business. iQ has achieved an impressive 300 percent improvement in its pull-through rate since launching HomeAdvantage in February of 2019. iQ’s starting pull-through rate was 23 percent. Now, when members use HomeAdvantage to buy a home, 94 percent of those applicants stay with the credit union for financing. Those buyers, as well as sellers, have saved more than $90,000 at closing through the program’s cash-back benefit.
iQ’s success is the result of HomeAdvantage’s powerful lead nurturing system, which balances automated touchpoints with personal outreach from both the program’s Member Concierge team and loyal real estate agents who keep the credit union’s brand and mortgage programs front-of-mind with members.
Reversing Low Loan Retention
Before launching HomeAdvantage, iQ had lots of room to grow to capture members with its mortgage programs. In fact, just three percent of members held a mortgage with iQ.
Industry-wide, credit unions underperform their banking counterparts when it comes to mortgage loans. Though 92 percent of credit union members report very or extremely high satisfaction — 10 percent higher than bank customers — credit unions fund a small minority of the mortgages originated in the United States.
Despite iQ’s efforts to increase their purchase mortgage business by adding staff and expanding marketing, more than 75 percent of their mortgage loan applicants ended up financing through other lenders.
iQ’s vice president of mortgage services, Dianne Smith, who had a two-decade career at large private banks, attributed those losses to local real estate agents who were directing members away from iQ to other financial institutions.
“For 25 years prior to coming to the credit union, I had been with pass-through lenders and large lenders. The relationship with realtors was very different than what it is in the credit union world,” said Smith. “When it came right down to it, the members that we were pre-qualifying never closed with us. We knew that there had been a transaction, but we didn’t get the loan in the end.”
When Smith heard of HomeAdvantage at the annual American Credit Union Mortgage Association (ACUMA) conference, she was intrigued to discover a solution tailored to credit unions that could not only attract more buyers but also nurture and track the mortgage leads it sends to agents.
Enhanced Mortgage Lead Nurturing
The HomeAdvantage platform works to keep home buying and selling members in the credit union’s pipeline. On the front end, HomeAdvantage features a real estate search portal that attracts and converts members into the credit union’s purchase lead pipeline. On the back end, a powerful command center offers critical lead management tools that help credit unions nurture leads as well as report on progress.
One of those features is a unique employee dashboard that allows loan officers to register members directly into the program and assign them to a HomeAdvantage-certified real estate agent if they are ready. Over 80 percent of iQ’s HomeAdvantage closings were registered using this tool.
Regardless of whether a member self-registers through the front-end search portal or was registered by a credit union employee, HomeAdvantage’s three-pronged lead nurturing formula works to keep them engaged until they are ready for a mortgage.
- Email drip campaigns deliver personalized real estate content to member inboxes;
- Personal outreach occurs via phone, text and chat from the HomeAdvantage Member Concierge team; and
- Certified real estate agents work to keep the credit union’s brand and mortgage programs top-of-mind with members using the program.
According to Smith, HomeAdvantage offered “a whole different way of looking at the interaction with realtors and leveraging it in a manner that wasn’t just to the agent’s benefit, but to ours as well.”
“HomeAdvantage has created this interesting dynamic that has provided so much more transparency than I ever thought possible,” said Smith. “Now, I’m very comfortable that if one of the realtors has a problem and the member is going to opt to go to a different financial source, they’ll let us know. The agents often give us more feedback than the member does about why they are considering another lender.”
All member activity is tracked and shared via HomeAdvantage’s online reporting center. Credit unions can review new registrations, agent referrals, pending closings, as well as member experience ratings. Most importantly, the reports give credit unions insight into which members didn’t choose them for their loan and why.
Giving Back to Members Energizes Staff
HomeAdvantage has provided iQ with a structure to involve more team members in marketing the credit union’s mortgage offerings. All levels of employees, from loan officers to their teller line, at the credit union’s 16 branches are trained on HomeAdvantage so they can speak comfortably with members about the program and home mortgages.
Smith says sharing HomeAdvantage with members energizes her team because the program’s benefits align with iQ’s core focus on member satisfaction. One of the most attractive aspects of the program is the Cash Rewards that members can qualify to receive at closing by using a certified HomeAdvantage agent. At iQ, members earn an average of $1,600 per transaction whether they buy or sell a home. In the first year, members earned more than $60,000.
“I’ll send an email when a member closes with HomeAdvantage and everybody in that branch just goes nuts,” said Smith. “Everybody remembers HomeAdvantage as being a member benefit that gives value. That’s really the way we’ve kept HomeAdvantage in the forefront of our team’s mind.”
Home Buyer Nurturing During the Coronavirus Pandemic
In iQ’s region, the real estate industry has been greatly impacted over the last few months by the coronavirus pandemic and the refinance boom. According to Smith, local home inventory remains very low. As a result, many of its members who have been connected to a HomeAdvantage real estate agent haven’t yet found a home.
“We know that keeping our mortgage programs top of mind is vital for earning our members’ mortgage business,” said Smith. “HomeAdvantage touchpoints have enabled us to keep that contact in place during this very unusual time.”
HomeAdvantage is serving a similar, valuable role for more than 120 credit unions partners across the United States that are also struggling since the onset of COVID-19. Credit unions are working to balance nurturing purchase mortgage applicants while managing remote working environments and refinance demands. HomeAdvantage’s built-in nurturing protocols keep home-buying members engaged until they find the right home without putting additional strains on the credit union or its employees.
“HomeAdvantage has always been a powerful nurturing tool. In many cases right now, it is now the only way credit unions can stay engaged with homebuyers to retain their real estate transactions,” said David Gray, CU Realty Services’ Chief Experience Officer. “Our team has pivoted in the last few months to do all we can to help our partners get their leads into our system. We truly want to help drive their business forward while alleviating pressure on resources.”
iQ’s Future Goals
iQ has closed more than $16 million in mortgage loans through the HomeAdvantage program to date. iQ’s next goal for the program is to continue to increase the volume of closed loans and the amount of Cash Rewards given back by continuing the strategies that have worked so well thus far.
“We plan to keep riding the momentum,” said Smith. “HomeAdvantage partner real estate agents treat our members the way we treat our members, which is always member-first. As long as that is the approach and the way we direct and educate our members is consistent in culture, I think HomeAdvantage is going to be very long term.
“iQ has been such a great credit union partner,” said Mike Corn, CEO of CU Realty Services, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020. “We see many qualities, including their motivation and commitment to the program, that we see in partners that have been successful with HomeAdvantage for many years. We can’t wait to see what iQ continues to achieve for their members in the coming year and beyond.”
About iQ Credit Union
iQ Credit Union is a full-service financial institution serving the Pacific Northwest since 1940. With more than 85,000 members and now available in the Portland market, the credit union is known for its deep commitment to financial education and community engagement. Whether it’s iQ’s signature red and black Buffalo plaid colors or its involvement in the community, the credit union has left a positive lasting impression in Washington and Oregon. iQ is known for helping WAnderers and explORers reach their financial goals by offering honest and friendly advice at any of its 16 branches. More information is available at iQcu.com.
About CU Realty Services, LLC
CU Realty Services provides real estate services to credit unions across the nation, helping them increase their purchase mortgage business. The CUSO works with more than 120 credit unions and mortgage CUSOs in 24 states to offer its turnkey real estate marketing platform, HomeAdvantage. Through the program, credit union members can search for homes, research neighborhoods, calculate costs of homeownership, connect to experienced real estate agents and qualify to earn HomeAdvantage Cash Rewards. By offering this program to members, credit unions are able to attract, identify and engage more home buyers, and consequently close more loans. To learn more, please visit www.curealty.com.