LONGVIEW — As housing development booms near Woodland, Fibre Federal Credit Union is expanding its mortgage services to reach new customers.
In mid-August, Fibre Federal opened its Woodland Mortgage Center at 1147 N. Goerig St., around the corner from its financial services center.
“We’re here to assist our members locally and provide them with best services and best products out there,” said Lori McElligott, assistant vice president of residential lending.
The credit union opened the branch to promote its mortgage business to the southern end of Cowlitz County and northern Clark County, McElligott said. Less than a year ago, Fibre Federal expanded its membership area to include Clark County and wanted to be accessible to that area, she said.
“Woodland is a booming area, it’s growing,” McElligott said. “We felt that it’s a good area to have a presence with mortgage services.”
The center offers first mortgage products for the primary or initial loan obtained for a property, McElligott said. It also offers mortgage refinancing for a primary residence, vacation home, investment property or land. Property owners can refinance to improve their rate or tap into equity and get cash out.
McElligott said unlike most mortgage brokers, Fibre Federal services the mortgages at its local centers, rather than selling them.
The most common question mortgage staff get is how much is required for a down payment, McElligott said. For most loans, 3 percent is required, but that can include a gift from family or other options, she said. Federal Housing Administration loans require 3.5 percent. Loans that are more than 80 percent of the price require private mortgage insurance.
The housing market is starting to shift from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market, and it is a good time to start looking to purchase a home, McElligott said. Listings typically drop off as the weather changes to fall and winter, she said.
The number of active listings for Cowlitz County homes more than doubled from last year, according to a recent Northwest Multiple Listing Service report. But the listings only increased slighting from 237 in July to 241 in August.
Home prices have sharply increased over the last year and half but seem to be stabilizing, McElligott said.
“This is a good time for first-time homebuyers to chance it, or for someone looking to sell and buy … to get as much equity they can to invest in a new home, this is a good time to do that,” she said.