Meet Dawn Stenberg, Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert

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Dawn and her daughter in the kitchen at home.

Get to know Dawn Stenberg, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona.

When did you start your banking/lending career?

Dawn: I started in banking in 2002, and I’ve been in mortgage since 2008. I came to Merchants in 2012, and here I’ve been a mortgage coordinator, mortgage underwriter, and now a mortgage lender.

What is your best banking/borrowing tip?

Dawn: A question I get asked a lot is whether or not customers should close open credit card accounts. It actually makes more sense to keep accounts with a long, healthy history open. If you close accounts in good standing and then just have fairly new loans open, it actually can hurt your credit score. Of course, fraud is a concern too. The more accounts that are open the more difficult it is to keep track of them all, making you more vulnerable to fraud. It’s important to find the happy medium between keeping healthy accounts open while still being able to manage and monitor all of them.

What is something smart borrowers do?

Dawn: Something that makes the process easier for everyone is to consistently make all of your loan payments on time. It’s also great to see customers saving, even if it’s just a little bit from each paycheck. Anything is better than nothing, and over time the savings will grow and it’ll help you be comfortable in your home.

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

Dawn: Have a budget. It’s important to keep track of your finances to ensure you are not overspending and to stay on track with your financial goals. It can also help create healthy spending habits.

If you had $1,875,000 what is one FUN thing you’d do with the money?

Dawn: I would take a long extended vacation! Probably to Europe or New Zealand.

Picture your dream home. What is your favorite room and why?

Dawn: My favorite room is the kitchen; I love to cook. My favorite times are when my kids are helping me bake around the island. The kitchen for me is the focal point of the home – It’s where the family all gathers together.

Tim Nelson Joins Merchants Bank in Lakeville as Mortgage Lender

Tim Nelson, Mortgage Lender

Tim Nelson has joined Merchants Bank in Lakeville as a Mortgage Lender, according to Dan Vlasak, President of Merchants Bank in Lakeville.

“Tim is experienced in all types of mortgage loans, including construction loans, which will help Merchants Bank support our construction customers in the Lakeville area,” Vlasak said.

Nelson worked at Wells Fargo as a Home Mortgage Consultant for 16 years. He has lived in Lakeville for more than 20 years.

“I’m all in with Merchants,” Nelson said. “When you’re meeting with customers, it’s important to be able to confidently say that you can get their job done. Our group of operations professionals really deliver.”

Nelson is also involved in the community, working with the Lakeville Booster Club by fundraising to support Lakeville High School sports. As a self-described “family man,” he frequents the events to cheer on his children and their teams.

Meet Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert

Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank, and his son

Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank, and his son.

Get to know Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Eau Claire.

When did you start your banking/lending career?

Ben: I’ve been in banking since September 2005. I’ve worked in many positions on the retail side of the bank, such as a personal banker, customer service supervisory, branch manager, mortgage officer and mortgage sales manager. I started with Merchants on June 30, 2017 as a mortgage lender and I’m happy to use my experience in credit and customer service to help people get homes they could afford.

What is your best borrowing/banking tip?

Ben: My top home buying tip is always get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start the home buying or building process. It’s important to understand how the purchase you’re making will affect your budget.

What is something smart borrowers do?

Ben: This ties in with getting pre-approved for your mortgage: be prepared, know how your costs will interact. Just because you can afford a payment on paper, doesn’t mean that’s realistic. It’s a bad idea to stretch your budget; you want to be comfortable making that payment even when unforeseen expenses come up.

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

Ben: One of the things I was taught from a young age is you work very hard for your money, so spend and save wisely. It’s always good to avoid making impulse purchases. Picture your dream home.

What is your favorite room in your house and why?

Ben: I’m very fortunate to have my dream home, and my favorite room is my kitchen/sunroom. I love being in the kitchen cooking and entertaining. It was the most important feature when we were looking, so when we walked in we knew immediately we were home.

If you had $1,875,000, what is one FUN thing you’d do with the money?

Ben: I would go back to Europe and spend most of my time in Belgium and Holland where my family is from.

Nancy Crandall Knows Merchants Bank is the Real Deal

Nancy Crandall of Real Deals with Brian Hokanson of Merchants Bank.

With so much on her mind with her new business, one thing Nancy Crandall didn’t have to worry about was Merchants Bank. She said banking with Merchants is easy and convenient, and she especially appreciates the help she receives from Senior Lender Brian Hokanson.

“Merchants Bank has been there for me every step of the way as I designed and executed my business plan. Brian offered valuable retail insight and advice, and he’s always very supportive,” Crandall said.

Crandall said she recommends Merchants to anyone looking for a banking partner because “they really do view you as a business partner and are invested in your success, personally and professionally.”