Ben Franko Joins Merchants Bank in Eau Claire as a Mortgage Lender

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Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender

Ben Franko has joined Merchants Bank in Eau Claire as a Mortgage Lender and Assistant Vice President, according to Larry Accola, President for Merchants Bank in Eau Claire.

“We’re excited to add Ben to our team. His knowledge and passion for our community, the Chippewa Valley and mortgage lending will make the experience easy for customers as he guides them through the mortgage loan process from start to finish and helps get them into the right home,” Accola said.

Franko has been serving customers throughout the area in a number of roles over the past 13 years, including more than nine years in mortgage lending, most recently with Wells Fargo.

“I believe the most important part of banking is the relationship between a banker and customer,” Franko said. “And the best place for a customer to develop that sort of relationship is in a true community bank like Merchants, where it’s clear the Bank puts its customers’ best interests at the forefront of what it does each and every day.”

One of Merchants Bank’s strengths is that it services its loans, which means that questions are answered by a Merchants Bank employee who lives in the area. Currently, Merchants Bank services more than $2.5 billion in mortgage loans.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Franko has been involved in the community and currently serves as President for the Community Table Board of Directors. Franko and his wife, Sonja, have a son, George, and a daughter, Madeline.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including its location in Eau Claire and another Wisconsin location in Onalaska. Minnesota locations include Winona, St. Charles, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, La Crescent, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Chris Thrune Joins Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove as a Mortgage Lender

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Chris Thrune has joined Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove as a Mortgage Lender and Customer Service Representative, according to Randy Bachman, Branch Manager and Personal Banking Officer for Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove.

“We’re excited to have Chris with us in Cottage Grove. He has a great deal of experience with the Merchants Bank organization,” Bachman said. “He loves working with customers, and it shows in everything he does.”

Before joining the team in Cottage Grove, Thrune spent three years working for Merchants as a Teller and another year as an Electronic Banking Specialist, helping customers with a variety of needs, including Online and Mobile Banking questions. He said he’s looking forward to working with customers in his new roles, especially as a mortgage lender.

“Buying a new home is exciting, and every customer has different needs,” Thrune said. “What I enjoy most about mortgage lending is using my knowledge to satisfy those needs and help make the loan process easy for my customers from start to finish.”

Thrune, who has a Finance degree from Winona State University, encourages mortgage customers to get a head start on others looking for homes in this competitive housing market.

“My top advice for home buyers is to get pre-approved before starting home shopping,” Thrune said. “This will give you a good sense of your budget and put you in a strong position when it’s time to make an offer.”

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including its location in Cottage Grove and other southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount.  Other Minnesota locations include Winona, St. Charles, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, La Crescent, Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton. Wisconsin locations are in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Jenna Bauer is now a Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Hastings

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Jenna Bauer, Mortgage Lender

Already a familiar face to the customers at Merchants Bank in Hastings, Jenna Bauer has accepted a new role as a Mortgage Lender at Merchants, according to Merchants Bank in Hastings President Bruce Goblirsch.

Bauer has been with Merchants for six years, working with customers as both a Customer Service Representative and a Lead Teller.

“Jenna understands and is committed to our customers,” Goblirsch said. “They already know how good she is at helping them get what is best for their banking needs. Her new mortgage customers will find that out as well.”

Bauer said knowing the Hastings customers and the Hastings market is a bonus to her as she starts as a Mortgage Lender.

“I’m looking forward to helping my current and my new customers in a different way, working with them to get into the home they want and fitting them with the best mortgage to meet their needs,” Bauer said. “I want them to know that I’ll be there for them from start to finish.”

Long-time Hastings Mortgage Lender John Aarness is retiring at the end of June.

Merchants Bank Twin Cities locations include Hastings, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants Bank has 21 locations in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin, including Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing and Hampton.  Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Susan Clark is Now a Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

 

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Susan Clark, Mortgage Lender

Susan Clark is now helping customers in her role as Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona, according to Sue Hovell, Director of Retail Banking Performance.

“Given her background, knowledge of the Winona market and her desire to provide customers with guidance and walk them the mortgage process from start to finish, we know Susan is an important addition to our growing Winona mortgage team,” Hovell said.

Clark has been serving Merchants Bank customers in a number of roles since 2003 and has been a Winona resident for most of her life. Her background includes finance, lending, and bank compliance. She is certified as an American Bankers Association Residential Mortgage Lender.

“With the wide variety of home financing options available and what seems like a mountain of paperwork before you start, it can be intimidating to know where to begin,” Clark said. “I can help, and look forward to making the process as clear and stress-free as possible for our customers. I truly want to be there every step of the way.”

Clark points out that her experience as part of their family business allows her to understand the complexities self-employment can create when applying for a home mortgage. Clark volunteers her time throughout the community in support of area schools as well as many non-profit organizations.

Home Construction Loans: The Basics

Construction loans at Merchants Bank

Have you always dreamed of building your own home, but you aren’t sure where to start? Follow this easy guide to learn the basics of construction loans.

What is a construction loan?
A construction loan is a loan used to pay for the cost of building a new home. When construction on your house is complete, you’ll need to obtain a new loan to pay off the construction costs. At Merchants, we offer construction to permanent financing, which allows customers to borrow for the construction phase and modify that loan to allow them to pay off the construction costs in one simple process.

How does it work?
For qualified applicants, Merchants requires a minimum down payment of 5% if the purchase price is under $417,000. If the purchase price exceeds $417,000, a down payment of 10% is required. With a 5% down payment, you will have a single loan with mortgage insurance at 95%.*

Once you have obtained financing for your construction loan, the builder will typically take draws (payments) throughout the construction phase. During the construction process, you will only be charged monthly interest payments on the amount of the loan advanced.

How do I apply?
Apply online at www.merchantsbank.com or visit your local Merchants Bank to speak to a mortgage lender. After reviewing your application and other information, you will be notified if you’ve been preapproved for both a construction and permanent loan.*

Read our complete guide for successful construction or remodel through the construction loan process, which covers:

  • What information is needed upon application
  • Bids, draws and cost overruns
  • Appraisal value
  • And much more

*Subject to credit approval.
Maximum financing is the highest loan-to-value which varies based on the loan product