City of Woodbury

Woodbury, Minnesota

Story Overview

Woodbury, Minnesota is one of the fastest-growing communities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Now the state’s eighth-largest city, the City of Woodbury enjoys a AAA bond rating, along with a reputation for transparency and budget-minded accountability.

The Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) team has been servicing municipal loans for more than 20 years, with a high-touch approach that keeps costs affordable and provides customized reporting tools to make loan servicing easy for clients.

When Woodbury recognized its need for a more efficient loan servicing process, the city turned to CRF for expert advice and a turnkey solution to their servicing challenges.

The Need

Karl Batalden, community development coordinator for the City of Woodbury, has been administering the city’s housing loan programs since their inception in 2008.

“Woodbury is growing and changing rapidly, with a diverse set of challenges and opportunities related to community development,” said Batalden. “It’s also close-knit for a city of its size, so when a borrower is struggling with a delinquency, we all want to help them succeed.”

After beginning its housing loan program, the City of Woodbury decided that it needed outside help to manage its growing portfolio. The city needed a firm that could go beyond processing and reporting; having a solid asset management team in place would help Woodbury provide a higher level of quality and engagement with its borrowers.

With such a high standard for financial controls, the city required its loan servicing partner to be able to provide immediate, transparent reporting at a moment’s notice. Seamless two-way communication would be essential.

The Solution

The City of Woodbury’s relationship with Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) is built upon trust, clarity and consistency. CRF can help realize significant cost savings with innovative loan servicing solutions while thriving on a collaborative approach to solving complex challenges.

Without the specialized staff resources, software or technical knowledge required to service loans directly, Woodbury relies on CRF’s expertise and deep understanding of the reasons behind delinquencies and the strict formatting requirements needed to conform with city standards.

“CRF helps us reconcile those delinquencies that are related to administrative errors, such as a bad address, with those caused by hardships or other financial crises,” said Batalden. “They have also proven time and again the ability to deliver exactly the data we need, when we need it and in the correct format. For us to do that in-house simply wouldn’t be cost-effective or feasible.”

Being a mission-driven lender, CRF also brings a human touch to what ordinarily is an impersonal process. Whenever there are issues with borrower payment or communication, CRF can provide a helpful, third-party perspective – independent of the lender or the city itself – to borrowers who need extra attention.

According to Batalden, it is far easier to head off delinquencies before engaging legal counsel. Working with CRF helps the City of Woodbury control its attorney’s fees while engaging borrowers in good faith to assess loan modifications, grace periods or other tactics to facilitate payment.

“Our relationship with CRF is strong to the point where they will often share suggestions for reporting that we haven’t considered or reveal something in the data that we may not have noticed,” said Batalden. “We have such excellent two-way communication that they are more than just a service provider to the city – they are one of the consultants we rely upon to help our city grow.”

The Results

Looking forward, both Batalden and CRF see years of continued partnership on the horizon. As Woodbury continues to grow and its community development activities increase in proportion to population, CRF remains a key asset that is essential for the city’s continued financial supremacy.

“Flexibility is important, particularly with first-time homebuyers who may not be accustomed to paying a mortgage,” said Michelle Page, VP of loan servicing for CRF. It isn’t simply about loss mitigation for Karl and the city: it’s about supporting their community development goals. That means we do everything we can to facilitate repayment.”

We could have made a decision to handle servicing in-house. But that entails hiring someone with specialized skills, buying software programs and handling compliance. CRF offered all of that plus a full team of skilled professionals. How could I make any other recommendation to the community?

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