Why you should get a mortgage from a credit union

Did you know that credit unions are collectively Canada’s second-biggest mortgage lender? Or that, instead of just customers, they have members who share ownership of their credit union? 

Unlike big banks that focus on paying profits to shareholders, credit unions, as co-operatives, focus on offering members more attractive financial products and services, including flexible, lower-rate mortgages. This is why a mortgage from a credit union is very different from one you’d get from a bank. 

We asked some ACU mortgage experts why a credit union mortgage is different—and what kind of borrowers would benefit from one. 

A credit union mortgage is more integrated

Marsharee Lindsay, Financial Advisor

“At ACU, we look at your entire financial picture before recommending a mortgage,” says Marsharee Lindsay, Financial Advisor at ACU’s Pembina branch. “We want to help improve your whole financial situation, so we’ll look at the most appropriate type of mortgage for you.”

Most other lenders deal with the imperative of having to return a profit to shareholders, which makes it more difficult for them to compete on price, while the imperative at ACU is to find the mortgage that best fits the overall needs of the member. 

Marsharee explains how ACU’s philosophy is different. “We’re not just selling you a product. We look at how your mortgage will fit in with your other debts, your savings goals, your insurance needs. It’s not the case of us saying, ‘Here’s a mortgage that will work.’ We’re taking the time to ensure your mortgage supports your long-term financial plan.”   

A more personalized, flexible mortgage

Credit unions are fundamentally different from banks. 

“Credit Unions offer financial advice that focus on member’s needs.” according to Glenda Bahalla, Financial Advisor at ACU’s Regent branch. “We understand our members financial situations and find solutions that benefits them.  The key in finding the right home is to get a good advice and help you along the way.”

Jay De Leon, Financial Advisor

Jay De Leon, Financial Advisor at ACU’s Garden City Branch, agrees with Glenda. “We want to build long-term relationships with our members,” he says. “We will lend to a wider range of customers than the banks, not just those with high credit scores. And we find the best mortgage for them, for both the long and short term.”

Based locally, dedicated to the local community 

“We are a local credit union, so all of our decisions are made locally,” says Jay. “This means our mortgage approvals are much faster than other lenders whose head offices are outside of Manitoba. We can approve a mortgage in a couple of days and deal with any issues quickly.” 

This local aspect of a credit union mortgage is also important to Glenda. “Having a mortgage and investments with a local credit union means your money is being invested in your local community,” she says. “This allows us as a credit union to give more back to our community.”

For ACU, that means donating to local organizations like the Jubilee Fund and United Way Winnipeg to strengthen initiatives for affordable housing and financial literacy. As part of a commitment to sustainability, ACU is also a big supporter of Trees Winnipeg and donated to them each time a new member joined.

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Why choose a credit union instead of a bank?

No shareholders means more competitive rates

Credit unions are owned by their members. Since they don’t have the same mandate to make huge profits to pay to their shareholders, they can pass on those savings to their members. 

“We’re very competitive in terms of rates and conditions,” says Marsharee. “We can offer our members lower rates and more flexible terms, such as better prepayment options, which allow you to pay off your mortgage faster.” 

Credit union mortgages offer more options

“We try to be more flexible with our mortgages and provide more services to our members,” says Jay. “There’s no one-size-fits-all mortgage at ACU. We offer a purchase-plus-improve mortgage for fixer-uppers, builders’ mortgages for new builds and mortgages specifically for vacation or investment properties.” 

Manitoba Islamic Mortgage, custom built for you

ACU also offers an Islamic mortgage, which few others do. Created in partnership with the Muslim community, it is a faith-compliant product that enables home-ownership for many ACU members. We also support the Manitoba Tipi Mitawa program aimed at first-time Indigenous homeowners. 

Help with improving your financial knowledge

Glenda explains that ACU’s commitment to its members goes beyond lending. “We also provide financial education and counselling. It’s important to educate our members so they understand the financial options they have and are better equipped to make the right choices.”

Glenda regularly provides financial education on topics such as:

Is it time to switch to ACU and a get a mortgage from a credit union?

Canadians are starting to appreciate the advantages of getting a mortgage from a credit union. Mortgage growth for credit unions outpaced the big banks in 2022, and shows no signs of slowing down. 

What's the difference between banks and credit unions?

ACU’s mortgages page contains details on buying a new home, renewing, refinancing and obtaining specialty mortgages. Of course, we’d also love to chat or meet with you in-person at your nearest branch. 

To find out more about the advantages of getting a mortgage from a credit union, call us at 1.877.958.8588 or book an appointment with an ACU Financial Advisor. 

About James Burns

James Burns is a freelance writer and copywriter. With a background in journalism, financial services and marketing, he writes for a wide range of companies across the financial services spectrum. His articles and blogs provide financial advice and insights to both consumers and businesses.

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