Credit union elevates its mortgage game

For anyone looking to refinance an existing mortgage or to get a new mortgage:

Elevations Credit Union processed the highest dollar volume of mortgages in Boulder in both May and June, based on county records.

The credit union has been growing its mortgage business rapidly in the last 18 months, said Jay Champion, chief lending officer there. It has been on a hiring spree, too – hiring new mortgage loan officers and working hard on relationships with Realtors in the community who are helping people buy homes.

Elizabeth Million, a former local Bank of America lender who is active in the community, is one new face you may recognize at Elevations, Champion said.

With $65 million to $70 million in loans per month in recent months, the credit union also was tops among credit unions in the state, according to Champion.

Elevations has processed more than 2,000 mortgage loans, year-to-date; last year the credit union did 1,000 loans the entire year, Champion said. A substantial number of those are homeowners looking to refinance existing mortgages to take advantage of incredibly low interest rates, he said.

But in the last month or so, at least half of the loans are for home purchases, Champion said. That’s a significant change to the lending situation since 2008, when the mortgage lending market crashed, triggering a national recession.

“The industry as a whole went too far on the state income and challenged credit types of funding, while Elevations stuck to its knitting through that,” Champion said.

EnergySmart loans

The credit union also is going gangbusters with local energy efficiency lending programs. Elevations has $35 million set aside for loans to help homeowners interested in things like new insulation and windows through Boulder’s EnergySmart program as well as the Denver Energy Challenge.

Loan officers have approved more than $1 million for energy efficiency improvements since Aug. 8, when the program was launched, Champion said. Most of those loans have been for residential energy efficiency work, although the money is available for commercial projects as well.

“The good news for homebuyers is that for anybody who wants to make improvements to existing homes, rates should remain low for awhile,” Champion said. “It’s a great time to buy and/or improve a home, and our message is that we’re standing here with the money ready to loan.”

Rates could go as low as 2.75 percent, he said, although rates will vary widely, depending on payback terms and other variables.

Not only is the money available now, but Elevations plans to loan it all out in the next 18 to 24 months, Champion said.

Federal government rebates for energy efficiency improvements sweeten the pot even more. You can find out more at the website: For the Denver program and loan information, go to: Applications can be filled out online, making it easy to find out whether the program is a good fit, Champion said.

Low-interest bonds

Low-interest rates are helping another local development project – construction at the Boulder Community Hospital’s Foothills campus.

The hospital recently raised $31.5 million in bonds with interest rates ranging from 4 percent to 5 percent, said Lisa Rigowski, the hospital’s controller. The bonds are tax-exempt.

Boulder Community Hospital Foothills campus is building a new wing for acute care services.

“We had a project that qualified, and it’s tax-exempt borrowing. The rates were so good that it gives us more flexibility, capitalwise, going forward,” Rigowski said.

In all, the hospital plans to spend about $110 million on the project – with money from donors, the bonds and other sources. The hospital previously raised $25 million in bonds while refinancing existing debt in 2010 to take advantage of a lower interest rate, Rigowski said.

Did you know?

About 5 percent of Americans say they have no idea how much money is in their checking or savings accounts right now, and 48 percent just have a rough idea, according to a new survey by, an online lender based in Chicago.

Another 47 percent of people surveyed say they know the exact amount in their accounts.

I don’t know about you, but I was dumbfounded to hear about the 5 percent. That works out to 1 in 20 people that I talk to every day professing in a survey not to know how much money is in his or her bank account.

Mattress money, anyone?

Beth Potter can be reached at 303-630-1944 or

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