Lake Michigan Credit Union, which really began pushing its mortgage business just a few years ago, funded $132 million in new mortgages during October, representing 848 loans.
October was “an all-time record for us,” said Eric Burgoon, senior vice president of mortgage lending at LMCU.
“We are very optimistic about housing, and our mortgage business, especially,” added Burgoon. The Grand Rapids-based credit union — the second largest in the state and the largest in West Michigan — focuses on mortgages as a core business — “not just a product.”
LMCU now is by far the largest mortgage lender in Kent County, according to data compiled by CoreLogic on the 50 top lenders. In October, it had slightly more than 26.4 percent of the market, measured by loan amount, and counting only new mortgages on both new and existing homes, not refinancing of existing mortgages.
In second place with slightly less than 9 percent market share in October was Fifth Third Bank. Fifth Third was followed by Founders Bank and Trust (7.24 percent), Macatawa Bank (7.09 percent), Mortgage 1 (5.02 percent), Independent Bank (3.52 percent) and United Bank (2.22 percent).
CoreLogic data on all new mortgages in Kent County, including refinances, still puts LMCU handily in the lead, with 14.43 percent market share covering the first three quarters of 2012. Fifth Third again was in second place with an 8.6 percent market share.
LMCU has more than 190,000 members and is chartered to operate in 36 counties, but Burgoon said that “right here in Grand Rapids has been our main focus and where most of our mortgage lending is still done.”
The home construction industry is “absolutely” improving now after the disastrous slump in the recent recession, said Burgoon, noting that LMCU works closely with builders. LMCU was one of the sponsors of the 2012 Parade of Homes put on by the Home & Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids.
In particular, said Burgoon, LMCU is seeing new homes priced around $200,000 “selling pretty well.”
New construction is picking up, in general, in every community around the Grand Rapids region, according to Burgoon. When asked which companies in particular are busy, Burgoon noted Eastbrook Homes is building quite a bit, but so are some smaller companies, such as Insignia, which tends to build higher-end homes, often in waterfront locations.
The market in homes started moving up about a year ago, in his estimation. “It felt like that for a while,” said Burgoon, but now the stats leave no doubt.
As for LMCU’s mortgage business growth, “part of that is we are doing really well,” he said, and the improving housing market just adds to it.
Resale of existing homes also is growing, according to Burgoon.
“The inventory of homes for sale is at its lowest level in over a year,” he said, adding that home prices are “starting to inch up a little bit.”
“With prices starting to show appreciation, it’s a pretty good time to list a home. Many people have put off selling due to prices being down and the economy, but it may make sense now,” said Burgoon.
According to Trendgraphics Inc., there were 3,640 homes for sale in Grand Rapids in October, compared to 3,942 in September. From August 2011 — when there were more than 5,000 homes for sale — through October 2012, the monthly inventory of homes declined by 32 percent. Monthly sales of homes rose by almost 1 percent over that period.
“We are now the largest financial institution headquartered in West Michigan,” said Burgoon, adding that he is not just talking about credit unions. “We really compare ourselves to all the other major financial institutions” in the region, he said.
LMCU has assets exceeding $2.6 billion.