RALEIGH, N.C. (12/14/10)--North Carolina credit unions that have begun mortgage assistance programs similar to that of the state's largest credit union--Raleigh-based State Employees' CU (SECU)--were the topic of a positive press report in which a couple--both schoolteachers--told how their credit union helped them keep their house. SECU's Mortgage Assistance Program, now two years old, calls for its loan officers to contact members at the first sign of financial problems--when the mortgage payment is more than 30 days overdue--to tell them that the credit union offers alternative payment plans for homeowners in distress Raleigh News & Observer (Dec. 12). SECU basically "turned our collectors into counselors," Mark Coburn, SECU senior vice president of loan servicing, told the publication. It offers to extend the length of the mortgage, accept partial payments for six months, and modify terms of a loan or refinancing. About a dozen credit unions in the state are working to modify mortgage terms for struggling families, the North Carolina Credit Union League told the publication. Since credit unions are owned by the members they serve, it's in their best interests to do all they can to achieve a happy outcome when the unexpected happens to a member, said Jeff Hardin, league director of communications. The Credit Union National Association provided statistics for the article comparing delinquent real estate loans in credit unions with those of banks. Credit unions in the state saw 1.85% delinquent real estate loans in June, compared with banks' 10.54%. In North Carolina, foreclosures totaled 63,284--a 47.6% hike from 2005, according to state data cited. This year's filings are on a pace to set a record. Last year SECU foreclosed 179 homes out of 121,625 mortgages and home equity loans--0.15%, which is slightly higher than in 2005. This year it has 175 foreclosures out of 123,815 loans. The article features other credit unions' similar programs--that of Raleigh-based Local Government FCU and of Durham-based Latino Community CU. It also tells about how SECU helped school teachers Eric and Misty Cain, keep their home after after Misty quit her job to spend more time with their two-year-old. Although they never fell behind on their mortgage, their credit card debt hit $20,000. They met with SECU and received an affordable plan--paying 50% of the mortgage for six months, not counting escrow payments, and refinancing at a lower interest rate to reduce their monthly payments. "It helped us keep our house," they said. For the full article, use the link.