By Peter Ricci
The National Association of Realtors completed the long-anticipated merger of its virtual Realtors Federal Credit Union (FCU) with the Northwest Federal Credit Union on August 1, effectively opening to its members a new range of financial services.
Headquartered in Herndon, Va., Northwest Federal Credit Union is a $2.2 billion institution that has been around for 65 years, and with its size and history, it offered immediate access to a number of features for members of FCU, which prior to the merger was the fastest growing credit union in the U.S. in 2011.
The Credit Union Advantage
When we reported on the merger back in May, Bob Goldberg, the senior vice president for sales, marketing, business development and strategic initiatives at NAR, told us about some of the benefits FCU members could anticipate with the merger, which was the result of a nine-month inquiry by Goldberg and Martin Edwards, the chairman of the board for the FCU and former president of NAR.
- FCU members now have access to Northwest Federal’s six Northern Virginia branch locations and its 4,600 shared branch service centers nationwide.
- Northwest began servicing the CIA when it was started, so it has a unique understanding of how independent contractors, such as Realtors, function.
- FCU was launched during the banking crisis, and as a result, its offerings were, in the words of Goldberg, “limited;” but with Northwest, it can now offer more advanced products, such as fee-free business checking and debit cards, business lines of credit and new mortgage and commercial real estate loans.
- The most notable aspects of the FCU system – access to members’ accounts, including account number(s), user name and password, convenient online banking, Member Care Center and website services – will remain unchanged.
All Realtors and their families, as well as NAR’s institutes, societies and councils, are eligible to become members of the credit union, as are NAR staff, the staffs of state and local Realtor associations and boards and their families, and employees of multiple listing services and any Realtor-owned businesses.
Pam Krieter, CEO of MORe – “Pretty Exciting”
Pam Krieter, the CEO of the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors (MORe), said the merger is “pretty exciting,” what with Northwest’s physical spaces complementing NAR’s “truly amazing” virtual approach, which is constructed with agents unique pay scale in mind.
Also, Krieter – who had a summer job in college with American Airlines’ credit union – said MORe invested $25,000 in a CD with FCU when it first launched nearly three years ago as a show of support. In her words, “it was a good investment.”