money in a bagAt the New Orleans National Association of REALTORS® Convention in Expo, I had the chance to catch up with Chief Executive Wes Wiggins of JTHS REALTORS® in the great State of Florida. Wiggins has a long career of being on the forefront of operating leading MLSs around the nation. He is among the few who understand how excellence is developed in the Association of REALTORS® and in the Multiple Listing Service. After a long discussion of our industry, the conversation turned to the REALTORS® Federal Credit Union, as Wes had spoken with one of their representatives while ordering our beverages.

I have known about the REALTORS Federal Credit Union (RFCU) for a long time. I think my introduction to the organization came from RFCU Director David Charron, who is better known as the Chief Executive of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS). Wiggins reminded me about the RFCU in a way that prompted this article. The REALTORS® Federal Credit Union is among the best member benefits of the National Association of REALTORS® and it is under utilized.

First of all, lifetime membership in the REALTORS® Federal Credit Union is $5. Membership is not only available to NAR Members, but also available to MLS and Association staff and the families of REALTORS® and staff. Credit Unions offer tremendous advantages over traditional banks and the REALTORS® Federal Credit Union is no exception. Think of it as having a family member in the banking business.

As part of the REALTOR family, MLSs and Associations should make a serious point of reminding agents and brokers of this fantastic member benefit. At the very least, include information about the RFCU in your monthly newsletter and display it prominently to members on your website. If you can help just one REALTOR® refinance something like a car and lower their interest rate, you have moved in the right direction. Wiggins is in the process of refinancing his vehicle and saving money, money that he said would be enough to offset REALTOR® MLS and Association dues in his organization. Many MLSs and Associations have also found the RFCU to be the best source of financing for building renovations and building purchases or even Lockbox systems.

Associations and MLSs should recognize that the low interest rate environment puts most banks and credit unions on equal footing. RFCU is a not-for-profit credit union! Interest rate shopping or for savings is a futile effort if you think that you are going to gain a meaningful advantage. So I challenge you with this consideration:

If your reserves are going to languish in a bank, why not put those funds into the REALTOR® Federal Credit Union where proceeds funnel loans to REALTORS® and Associations. Aside from getting a better rate, the RFCU understands your business and the business of real estate. In terms of service and convenience, users of the RFCU report excellent customer service, a remarkable mobile app for making deposits and transfers, and the added benefit of accessing the ATM network that does not charge a transaction fee. In other words, you can make cash withdrawals from any local credit union or ATM (33,000 fee free ATMs and over 5200 shared branches). The mobile app has a location tool that makes it easy to find. You would be surprised at how many $1 to $4.50 ATM service fees can be avoided throughout the year. There is also no minimum balance required and there are no fees for your account or for checks. Last but not least, they have a 24 hour call center with virtually no hold times.

For information about the REALTOR® Federal Credit Union, contact Victoria Gillespie, Senior Vice President and Director of Business Development.