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Northeast Credit Union Offers Responsible Financial Advice for New Englanders

By Paul Rowe

Northeast Credit Union was founded in 1936 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire under the name of U.S. Employees Federal Credit Union. In 1996 the name was switched to Northeast Credit Union, marking its shift from a federally chartered credit union to a state chartered credit union.

"With the addition and merger of Woodlands Credit Union in 2013, we now serve all communities throughout the state of New Hampshire and in the York, Cumberland, and Oxford counties of Maine," says Mortgage Operations Manager Bonnie Downing. "Through our history and evolution since our founding, our central focus has been and will continue to be our members and the communities in which we serve."

"People helping people" has been the motto here for decades. Northeast Credit Union has always served as advocates for the communities they care about. Returning profits to members while providing much-needed financial services to underserved populations, following conservative investment practices and lending responsibly has helped set Northeast Credit Union apart.

"Banks are either community, regional, or national, but all are for-profit business corporations owned by private investors and governed by a board of directors chosen by stockholders," says Downing. "Unlike banks, credit unions like Northeast Credit Union do not pay stockholders and are governed by a volunteer board of directors, elected by and from the credit union's membership." Earnings here are returned to members in the form of lower rates on loans and higher dividends on deposits.

Northeast Credit Union doesn't shy away from providing financial advice, especially to those just starting to build their financial profile. "Now is a good time to buy a home or invest in real estate. Mortgage rates remain low and there is more inventory of homes for sale and prices are affordable," says Downing.

Building your financial profile is crucial to home ownership, and Downing was kind enough to offer some tips for success.

"Sit down, take a pen, and make a list of all your assets (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, cash, bank accounts), and everything you owe (liabilities, student loans including deferred, credit card balances, auto loans, child support, alimony, etc). You need to determine exactly where you are and this balance sheet is going to be extremely important to determine your financial ability," says Downing. "Be honest. Be realistic. You need to understand exactly what you have coming in each month and how much is going out."

Nothing is worse than finding your dream home and then learning you can't afford it. Northeast Credit Union suggests that it is best to choose a Lender before shopping for a home.

"If you don't qualify now, your lender will counsel you in the right direction and discuss the steps you need to take," says Downing. "If you do qualify, happy shopping. Today, most real estate agents require a pre-approval before they will accept an offer on a home."

Northeast Credit Union goes beyond offering advice, providing competitive mortgage rates. Membership is required. Because this organization is community based, everyone is qualified to join if they live, work, worship, attend school, or do business anywhere in New Hampshire, in the York, Cumberland, and Oxford counties in Maine, or within 30 miles of one of their branches.

"We have a very experienced and seasoned mortgage department with two highly skilled loan originators who are available to do risk analysis, homebuyer counseling, pre-qualification, and pre-approvals, as well as taking telephone and face to face applications that are convenient to our members," says Downing.

Whether you are making the call or more comfortable having a conversation in person, Northeast Credit Union is always willing to offer responsible financial advice.

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Paul Rowe is a graduate instructor of writing and master's student of Literature at...

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