Lathrup Village-based Michigan First Credit Union has teamed up with Waterford-based Watson Group Financial to create Michigan First Mortgage, offering lending flexibility to 95,000 members across the combined network.
The new Michigan First Mortgage will make use of Watson Group’s long-time presence in Waterford and Lansing, and will open a new office in Brighton.
“It’s rare in our industry to have the opportunity where we can work directly with a lender — and it means we’re able to bring together our decades of industry leadership, experience, and community connections with Michigan First’s lending resources and deep roots in southeast Michigan.” says Brian Seibert, president of Michigan First Mortgage and a co-founder of Watson Group Financial.
In addition to conventional loans and government loans, the credit union takes a portfolio lending approach, which means that mortgage loans are held on their books rather than sold on the secondary market — placing them in a different regulatory category. This allows Michigan First Mortgage to have more flexibility in making loans based on a homeowner’s true ability to repay.
“Structurally, Michigan First Mortgage will provide a full range of mortgage loans, including leveraging portfolio lending through the credit union, which gives us more flexibility in working with families than traditional mortgage companies,” says Michael Poulos, president and CEO of Michigan First Credit Union.
Seibert notes that following the Great Recession and financial industry reform, many mortgage lenders have struggled to make loans to those with blemished credit histories. “As the mortgage market shifts from a refinance focus back to home buying, we’re ready to help families take the next steps toward a new home or their first home.”