Townhouse + Condo Living

Credit Unions versus Banks for Mortgage Lending

Posted on 15th March, 2013

Credit Unions

Mortgage lenders come in all sizes, ranging from Canada’s Big Six to tiny wholesale lenders and credit unions. Banks and credit unions are both financial institutions, but this is where the similarities end.

There are two distinct differences between these lenders: banks are for-profit companies and serve stockholders, while credit unions are not-for-profit organizations and serve its members. Secondly, banks have a national and international focus, while credit unions set their sights on their local community.

Credit unions are financial cooperatives. Their products, services and operations — and even their physical appearance — may resemble those of banks, but they are locally owned and invest their profits in the communities where they operate; where their members live and work.

Unlike banks, credit unions are autonomous. Each one has its own brand identity, management and Board of Directors, but they’re united through provincial centrals. These provide financial, technology and trade services to their member credit unions.

Today, there are 771 credit unions in Canada, with a total of 3,117 branches. They hold combined assets of $296 billion and serve 10.2 million members (as at December 31, 2012).

There are 53 credit unions in Saskatchewan serving 264 communities through 297 service outlets.

Credit unions are provincially regulated. The Credit Union Act, 1998 provides the overall framework for the incorporation and regulation of credit unions in Saskatchewan.

Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation is given responsibility by the provincial government to guarantee the full amount of funds on deposit with Saskatchewan credit unions and to provide preventive services that support the financial strength of credit unions.

Regardless of whom you choose to finance the purchase of your home, it is often the largest single financial commitment you will ever make, so shop carefully for your mortgage loan.

For a list of credit unions nearest you, click here.