Meet Dawn Garms, Mortgage Lender at Merchants

Garms,DawnWhen did you start your banking career?

Dawn: I started as a mortgage Lender with Altra in 2001. I was there for twelve years and then came to Merchants in 2013.

What is your top tip for a first time home-buyer?

Dawn: Get pre-approved first. Pre-approval helps you determine the maximum amount you can spend to purchase a home. You can also go over what to expect for monthly payments, down payments and other mortgage options with a lender at that time. It really gives you a clear picture of what you can afford and how that fits into what you’re comfortable with for your personal monthly budget.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Dawn: The best thing they taught me is the importance of knowing your finances. Know what you can handle so that you are comfortable in your monthly budget.

If you won the Powerball, what’s the first thing you would do?

Dawn: I would travel all over Europe for an extended period of time, and explore all of the different countries.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Dawn: The green of fresh trees on a mountain hike.

What’s one lesson you learned when buying your own home?

Dawn: Use a lender that is knowledge so they can guide you through the process. Buying a home should not cause a headache…it should be a smooth, pain-free process.

Subject to credit approval. Contact Dawn today to get start the application process for mortgage pre-approval. To find current mortgage rates and apply online, visit our website.

Jason Monfre Joins Merchants Bank in Rochester as a Mortgage Lender

WelcomeJason

Jason Monfre has joined Merchants Bank as a mortgage lender, according to Merchants Bank in Rochester President John Doyle.

“Jason’s ability to connect with people and understanding of the mortgage industry will allow him to guide customers to a mortgage that is the right fit for their needs,” Doyle said. “He will be an asset to our organization because our customers will benefit from what he can offer to them.”

With more than 10 years of experience in the mortgage industry in Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota, Monfre said he’s excited to help Rochester area residents with their mortgage needs.

“I couldn’t be happier to be in this position at Merchants Bank, where I can develop strong and lasting relationships and, at the same time, provide customers with a top of the line product that meets their housing and borrowing goals,” Monfre said.

Monfre has a long history of volunteering in the community, especially in mentoring young people in recovery from drug and alcohol addictions, and in coaching youth baseball. Monfre has bachelor’s degrees in both Psychology and Economics from the University of Minnesota. He played Division I baseball at Indiana University and the University of Minnesota.

Meet Mary Illetschko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants

Mortgage Banking Merchants BankWhen did you start your banking/lending career?

Mary: I started as a Part Time Teller at a bank while I was going to college and then moved into personal banking shortly afterwards. I started in the mortgage business in 1991 at Old Stone Credit. Eventually, I started my own company and became an independent mortgage broker. I worked for myself for 11 years and really enjoyed it…I kept my business small and work came to me through word of mouth referrals. When the market crashed in 2008, I ended up closing my business and going to work for a small community bank. I came to Merchants in 2011 and really enjoy being a part of this team!

What is your top tip for someone looking to build a home?

Mary: Do your homework and shop for the right builder. A lot of people just look at the price when choosing a builder, however, cheaper isn’t always better! Visit several model homes in your price range and make sure you are comfortable with the builder before signing a contract. You should also go into the process pre-approved for your construction financing so you know exactly what you can afford. Knowledge is power when you’re buying or building a home.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Mary: My dad retired from a career in banking after 40+ years, therefore my parents are very conservative. They instilled in me the importance of saving for the future, but also having fun while living within your means.

If you won the Powerball, what’s the first thing you would do?

Mary: I would catch the next flight to St. John’s, rent a villa on the beach and then make a call to my financial planner and attorney.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Mary: Green grass on a golf course! I enjoy golf not only for the sport, but for the beauty and incredible views that can be found on various courses. I play on a nine hole women’s league in Woodbury and try to play at least one 18 hole round on the weekend.

Picture your dream house. What’s your favorite room and why?

Mary: I would have a large great room. It would be equipped with a wet bar, pool table and a buck hunter game. In addition, I would have a large screen TV where I could enjoy Minnesota Viking and Wild games!

Contact Mary today to get start the application process for your home building or buying project. To find current mortgage rates and apply online, visit our website.

Loans are subject to credit approval.

Meet Ann Vanderloo, Mortgage Lender at Merchants

Ann Vanderloo, Mortgage Lender

Ann Vanderloo, Mortgage Lender

When did you start your lending career?

Ann: 25 years ago at a company called Old Stone Credit. From there, I moved to First Union and then to Anchor Bank. I’m proud to say I’ve been in community banking for 18 years and six of those years have been with Merchants.

What is your top tip for someone looking to build a home?

Ann: Do your homework and shop for a good builder, your local Builders Association or a home tour is a good place to start. You also want to make sure you familiarize yourself with the whole construction process…it’s much different from buying a house. It’s important to know before you get too far if building as house is for you.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Ann: Save. Save. Save. My parents were very conservative people. They taught me to spend my money wisely and keep a log of where my money is going.

If you won the Powerball what’s the first thing you would do?

Ann: I would go see a financial planner and an attorney. After that, I would take vacation. I love to travel.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Ann: Trees and plants. We actually inherited a very large garden with our current home. It’s mostly flowers, but I enjoy keeping it up.

Picture your dream house. What’s your favorite room and why?

Ann: Just big, big kitchen. We spend so much time in the kitchen and that seems to attract your audience when you have people over. But, I would also love a three season porch.

Contact Ann today to get start the application process for your home building or buying project. To find current mortgage rates and apply online, visit our website.

Subject to credit approval.

Meet Jeanne Struckman, Mortgage Lender at Merchants

Jeanne Struckmann, Mortgage Lender

Jeanne Struckmann, Mortgage Lender

When did you start your banking career?

Jeanne: I started as a Part Time Teller at Home Federal. From there I became a Full Time Teller, then a Personal Banker, then I helped with second mortgages and finally a Mortgage Lender. I had a great mentor that helped me along the way. This year, I’ll have been with Merchants as a Mortgage Lender for nine years.

What is your top tip for someone looking to build a home?

Jeanne: Get educated. Sit down and take the time to discuss options with your lender. Everyone’s situation is a different and it’s good to talk to an expert up front.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Jeanne: You whine if you have it, you whine if you don’t.

If you won the Powerball, what’s the first thing you would do?

Jeanne: I would call a banker.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Jeanne: My golf cart. I love riding around in it with my Yorkshire terrier, Ozzy. We bring the golf cart to our permanent camp site in Houston County.

Picture your dream house. What’s your favorite room and why?

Jeanne: A four season porch…even us extroverts need some down time. We’re actually in the process of putting one on ourselves right now. I’m looking forward to sitting out there with my dog, watching life go by.

Contact Jeanne today to get start the application process for your home building or buying project. To find current mortgage rates and apply online, visit our website.

Meet John Aarness, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

John Aarness Merchants Bank Mortgage LenderWhen did you start your lending career?

John: I started my lending career in southern California in March of 1972. The bulk of my time was spent originating FHA and VA loans. Eventually I moved to Minnesota with my wife and started at Merchants in 2001.

What is your top tip for someone looking to build a home?

John: Be patient, talk to an experienced builder and know what you want. Knowing what you want is the hardest part. I would also suggest building a traditional house…remember, you have to sell it eventually.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

John: Earn it before you spend it. I always earned money to pay for something I wanted, whether it was shoveling sidewalks when I was younger or getting a part-time job when I was old enough.

If you won the Powerball what’s the first thing you would buy?

John: I have three boys and I would pay off their mortgages.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

John: I have a 1984 ugly green Vespa scooter. It’s a real beaut, despite the color. A fun machine.

Picture your dream house. What’s your favorite room and why?

John: I think it would be a luxury garage…heated, with a refrigerator, a large work bench and fully equipped with all the tools I need. Of course, it’d have a big TV too.

Contact John today to get start the application process for your home building or buying project. To find current mortgage rates and apply online, visit our website.

What is Most Important to Homebuyers?

IMN-homebuyers

If you’re looking to put your home up for sale, there are an array of things to do that can entice a potential buyer. For starters, you can clear the clutter, clean the carpets and try to paint over your kid’s fingerprints on the walls.

But besides making your home as picturesque as it can be, it’s important to understand what real estate buyers are really looking for in the current day and age. Like homes change, so do homebuyers, and now those of the Gen X and Gen Y population are taking the home-buying floor. It turns out they have some pretty high standards, which differ greatly from what previous generations sought in a home.

“It’s critical that real estate professionals understand what embodies a quintessential home for the Millennial generation, which vastly differs from the traditional norms of generations before them,” says Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, which conducted a survey on the essentials of what current homebuyers are seeking. According to the results, a whopping 77 percent of next-generation homeowners would prefer a home that encompasses the technological capabilities they grew up with and have become accustomed to (smart phones, apps, etc.).

“These survey findings allow our brand to continue to best serve the next generation of homebuyers and find homes that can or do appeal to their lifestyles and unique spirit,” says Chris. “Understanding technologies to communicate with this generation is now only one piece of the puzzle for agents; ‘smart’ technological capabilities must now be ingrained into the home itself.”

The survey results proved that technology was a huge part of what next-generation homebuyers crave in their home. In fact, 56 percent said home technology capabilities topped “curb appeal” in terms of importance in a home. What’s more, if a home didn’t live up to their advanced technology standards, 64 percent said they’d rather not live there. One of the most important technology components that participants wanted was an energy-efficient washer and dryer (which 57 percent said they’d like this commodity in a home), followed by a security system (46 percent) and a smart thermostat (44 percent).

Additionally, 77 percent of those surveyed said they’d rather purchase an “essential” home instead of a large, luxurious abode. Forty-three percent even went so far as to say they’d rather the home be less “cookie cutter” style and more customized to their level of practicality. For example, 1 in 5 Millennials surveyed stated they would more appropriately name their dining room a home office, which is what they’d more commonly use the space for. Also, 43 percent would prefer to use their living room as a home theater.

Technology in the home doesn’t end there for this present home-buying crowd. Fifty-nine percent surveyed said they’d prefer more space in the kitchen for a TV (over a second stove), and if possible, they’d like to have a form of entertainment in each room in the house. While kitchen renovations are and have always been a main precedence , now Millennials say the most desirable part of the room are tech updates. And, 41 percent of participants said they’d likely brag to a friend about a home automation system over a newly redone kitchen.

The desire for a technologically-equipped home is not a shock among Millennials, but results that didn’t include anything about technology included that 82 percent of participants said they’d rather invest in a home that needed renovations if given the choice between that and relying on their parents’ money.

In addition, other commodities homebuyers wish for in their home include walk-in closets, home offices and hardwood flooring. With that said, if your current home does come equipped with one or all of these things on current buyers’ wish lists, it may be a good idea to emphasize them in your listing. Also, given how important technology is to current homebuyers, before you list your new home, you may benefit from transforming your home into a “smart home.”

Not sure where to start? Your financial institution is the best place to help with all your real estate needs.

Loans are subject to credit approval. Merchants Bank is an equal housing lender. Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.