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Wisconsin CU League News Release - 10/22/2010


Low-income and minority mortgage borrowers approved more often at credit unions


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Chris Henzig
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(262)549-0200, Ext. 6019


Chad Helminak
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Higher approval rate is fifth fact to celebrate during International Credit Union Week, Oct. 17-23

Pewaukee, Wis. –Low-income and minority borrowers in Wisconsin are more likely to have a home loan approved by a credit union than at a non-credit union lender, according to the most current figures available under the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.

Based on 2009 data – the most recent available – low-income mortgage borrowers’ approval rate was 72.2% at Wisconsin credit unions compared to 65.5% at non-credit union lenders. For minority mortgage applicants, the credit union approval rate here was 78% compared to 58.2% at non-credit union lenders.

“Credit unions continue to outperform other lenders in mortgages to financially underserved groups because of their unique member-ownership structure,” said Brett Thompson, President & CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League. “Because credit unions exist to serve their member owners, as opposed to chasing profits, credit unions can make mortgage decisions based primarily on members’ needs. So credit unions will make smaller loans on more modest homes. They’re also more accessible to low-income and minority borrowers.”

Although credit unions have only a 10% market share for financial services in Wisconsin, they operate 40% of the financial institution branches in the state’s low-income census tracts. By contrast, 94 percent of all Wisconsin banks – including 12 of the largest 20 banks – have no branches in low income census tracts.

Credit unions have been applauded for serving the underserved while avoiding the exotic lending practices that led to today’s economic stress. Barney Frank, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee has said, “If credit unions made all of the mortgage loans, then there would have been no subprime crisis, and therefore no economic crisis.”

Overall, Wisconsin’s lower income consumers save an estimated $44 million because they have access to member-owned credit unions instead of higher-cost for-profit institutions. Helping members save and build wealth is the aim of credit unions’ REAL Solutions initiative. The effort has been honored with four Governor’s Financial Literacy Awards.

Editor’s Note: Use the REAL Solutions logo found at

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