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West Virginia CUs dodge the mortgage bullet
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (2/13/08)--Members at more than 100 credit unions across West Virginia can be thankful their credit unions have managed to avoid the subprime mortgage problems that cut profits of many lenders in the state, says the West Virginia Credit Union League. Ken Watts, league president, told the state's largest newspaper that the league has kept a keen eye on the mortgage problem to make sure members aren't affected (Charleston Gazette Feb. 10). In fourth quarter, Huntington Banks lost nearly $240 million through a relationship with subprime lender Franklin Credit Management Corp., noted the newspaper. Rich Schaffer, vice president of the league, said the state's credit unions traditionally hold large amounts in reserve to protect against bad loans. West Virginia typically has the highest ratio of net worth to assets when compared with other Mid-Atlantic states. As of last June 30, West Virginia had a 12.14% ratio, compared with 11.4% for credit unions nationally. Also, Watts said, credit unions' historically haven't made mortgage loans. In the state's credit unions, mortgage loans make up a little over one-third of total loan volume. Still, the state's mixed economy, with an ever-present threat of layoffs, means managers are extra vigilant about who they lend money to, Schaffer said. Watts noted concerns about consumer confidence--how it trickles down to credit unions--and about whether consumers will borrow. Credit unions' personal service will turn to their advantage in the economy, Watts said. They know their members better and can offer loans only to their members. Watts also noted that while credit unions aren't growing hugely, they do give back to their communities, through scholarships and more.
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