WOODLAND – As housing development booms in South Cowlitz County, Fiber Federal Credit Union is expanding its mortgage services to reach new customers.
In mid-August, Fiber Federal opened its Woodland Mortgage Center on North Goerig Street, around the corner from its Financial Services Center.
“We are here to help our members locally and provide them with the best services and products,” said Lori McElligott, assistant vice president of residential loans.
The credit union opened the branch to promote its mortgage business in the southern end of Cowlitz County and northern Clark County, McElligott said. Less than a year ago, Fiber Federal expanded its membership area to include Clark County and wanted to be accessible to that area, she said.
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“Woodland is a booming area, it’s growing,” McElligott said. “We think it’s a good place to have a presence with mortgage services.”
The center offers first mortgage products for the primary or initial loan taken out for a property, McElligott said. It also offers mortgage refinancing for a primary residence, vacation home, investment property or land. Homeowners can refinance to improve their rate or tap into equity and cash out.
McElligott said unlike most mortgage brokers, Fiber Federal handles mortgages in its local centers, rather than selling them.
The most common question mortgage officers ask is how much is needed for a down payment, McElligott said. For most loans, 3% is required, but that can include a donation from family or other options, she said. Federal Housing Administration loans require 3.5%. Loans over 80% of the price require mortgage insurance.
The housing market is starting to shift from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market, and now is a good time to start looking to buy a home, McElligott said. Enrollment typically drops as the weather changes for fall and winter, she said.
The number of active listings for Cowlitz County homes has more than doubled from last year, according to a recent report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. But registrations rose only slightly, from 237 in July to 241 in August.
Home prices have risen sharply over the past year and a half, but appear to be stabilizing, McElligott said.
“Now is a good time for first-time home buyers to take a chance, or someone looking to sell and buy…to get as much equity as they can to invest in a new home. house, it’s a good time to do it,” she said.
People interested in mortgage services can stop by the center and, if staff are busy, can be called back, McElligott said. People can also apply online, which is the fastest way to start services, she said.
Fewer people are refinancing right now because mortgage rates are changing, so Fiber is focusing on connecting with realtors to get members in the door for home loans, McElligott said.
“We’ve been Cowlitz County’s No. 1 mortgage lender fairly consistently over the past several months,” said Heather Snyder, assistant vice president of marketing and community development. “It’s exciting for us and a testament to the services we provide.”
Talking Business is a series featuring new or expanded local businesses and print every Tuesday.
Contact Daily News reporter Katie Fairbanks at 360-577-2532 Where [email protected] for possible inclusion in the series.