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By Kayla O’Brien

RISMEDIA, July 1, 2008-“Realtors in today’s market are asking a resounding question-what do I do to put confidence back into the home-buying process?” says Sue Barber, SVP of business development at Chase. “We believe that has to do with partnering with a responsible lender who has a strong brand and call to action for responsible lending.”

In the industry for over 200 years, Chase is on a constant mission to facilitate a win-win situation for its clients during the home-buying process. To accomplish this, Chase’s Corporate Affinity Business creates options for companies, providing financial services, savings and security to its members and their families.

“Our Affinity business means a lot of different things to different people,” says Richard Trosko, Corporate Affinity national sales executive for Chase. “As a household brand-for all affinities-our coordinators are able to break down terminology and make it very easy for customers to understand the process at a time when they’re confused and intimidated.”

The company’s largest Affinity programs include the Union Plus Mortgage, Military Mortgage Program and corporate offerings through employee benefits programs.

“These programs speak to the current market conditions more than ever,” says Barber. “They aim to provide home buyers with the opportunity to have added features to their mortgages and benefits.”

The Union Plus Mortgage Program, exclusively sponsored by Chase for the benefits arm of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), a voluntary federation of 56 national and international labor unions, provides benefits to members who may encounter unemployment, disability or strike.

According to Trosko, if a union member or co-borrower loses their job due to unemployment, such as layoff or disability, Chase will pay their principal, interest, taxes and insurance for up to six months. It is then up to the union member to repay it for as little as $75 per month. A similar benefit exists should a union member be out of work due to a strike-extending the loan period for up to nine months. For added savings, Chase helps to limit closing costs to $100 on third-party fees for union members.

“As a teacher, you expect to get discounts, but I never expected these kinds of savings just because I’m a union member,” says Marc Doyle, a Union Plus Mortgage customer.

Chase also understands the sensitive needs of mobilized National Guard and Reserve service members. An official sponsor to the nonprofit organization Military Saves, which aims to provide financial literacy to service members, Chase offers discounts in conjunction with loan-assistance options through its Military Mortgage Program.

“Oftentimes, these service members will take a substantial pay cut when they’re mobilized, so those who are in good standing with their Chase loan won’t have to worry,” says Trosko. “We offer a $300 to $500 discount for closing costs for all active duty and retired members of the military in addition to a payment deferment program for up to 18 months, should a guard or reservist become mobilized.” After demobilization, borrowers have the option to double up on payments, modify the loan to stretch out the payments or refinance the loan at the current market rate.

The third component of Chase’s Corporate Affinity program includes over 1,600 employers of all sizes. Coinciding with existing employee benefit programs, Chase offers a $300 to $500 closing discount to those who qualify.

What’s more, Home Connect from Chase provides additional assistance and financial benefits to Affinity program members during the home-buying transaction. When an Affinity customer chooses a Chase-recommended real estate agent, they not only receive their other company- or union-allotted benefits, but also can receive up to $2,500 cash back, based on the purchase cost.

“Chase’s Affinity program grew 42 percent from 2006 to 2007,” says Trosko. “It then grew another 40 percent-doubling in the most challenging times. It’s a win for the agent who gets buyers and sellers; it’s a win for the consumer who gets cash back and savings; and it’s a win for Chase to be able to position ourselves as a responsible lender and provide unique benefits to whatever Affinity someone may belong to.

“Our sales team is committed to keeping customers for life,” adds Trosko. “When someone takes a Chase product, they’re taking it for protection. Our unique benefits are at no cost to the consumer-it’s the best deal going.

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