GREAT: IT’S IN OUR NAME. IT’S WHO WE ARE

From our Loan Officers to our tellers, it’s no secret that our customers think we’re not just good at what we do, we’re GREAT! Whether it’s handling a complicated refinance or a simple mortgage transaction, we’ve been proudly serving Wisconsin homeowners since 1935 with prompt and reliable service.

 As a result, we’ve been fortunate and honored to receive such positive reaction from customers throughout the state of Wisconsin. Below are a few testimonials that highlight how we’ve made the banking and mortgage experience easier.

 It is our goal each and every day to deliver a GREAT experience to every customer from the moment they walk through the door at any of our nine Great Midwest Bank branch locations. It’s in our name.

You can read even more customer testimonials by visiting our Facebook page or by heading to our website here.

Posted in Banking, Customer Service, Local Bank, Mortgages, Testimonials | Leave a comment

MEET OUR SIMPLY…LOCAL WINNERS FROM WAUKESHA

(From left to right: GMB President Dennis Doyle, Live Mortgage Free winners Pete and Connie Swanson, and Hartland Loan Officer Matt Gaulke)

Stunned, sitting in complete and utter silence, Pete Swanson just couldn’t believe it. Our Hartland Loan Officer, Matt Gaulke, had just called him with some incredible news: he and his wife Connie would be LIVING MORTGAGE FREE for the next six months!

The timing could not have been better. Pete and Connie recently purchased a new home in Waukesha for them, their two kids, and dog. Having attended nearby Carroll University together, it felt only natural to find a bigger home in nearby and familiar Waukesha. The couple has already declared their favorite spot in the home as the backyard, which is roughly four times the size of their previous yard.

Having worked with Matt and Great Midwest Bank for the last eight years, Pete and Connie knew exactly what they were getting when applying for their most recent loan: upfront and honest communication regarding cost and rates. In speaking about Matt, who previously helped the couple refinance twice and take out a home equity loan, Pete said, “Matt made the process easy and comfortable just as he has done in the past. It was practically the same.”

Pete said it was hard to imagine winning the TURN THE KEY sweepstakes when he first heard the Great Midwest Bank radio commercial on 1250 AM. Like most people, he never puts too much thought into these types of contests or sweepstakes because “it’ll never be me that wins”. Flash forward a couple months and he’s discovered firsthand that “real people” do win.

The Swanson family will be using the winnings to remodel their kitchen floor and dinette.

Congratulations again on winning our LIVE MORTGAGE FREE sweepstakes, Pete and Connie! We wish you and your family the best in your new home.

Posted in Banking, Mortgages, Turn the Key with GMB | Comments Off

“Our Simply…Local events are just that, Simply…Local”

buckyHow does a Simply…Local Bank stay local? By continuing to be involved in the community, of course! Great Midwest Bank has been active in a variety of local events this past month with plenty more events on the horizon.

Those who attended the Bridal Show Expo in Brookfield and the Mad City Bridal Expo in Madison were able to taste GMB decorated cupcakes from GiGi’s as well as participate in a fun DIY stamp project to highlight their big day. Attendees called the cupcakes “the best treats there” while others said our interactive booth helped make it “one of the best at the show.” Our loan officers helped many brides-to-be and their guests learn about the GMB advantages offered to first-time homebuyers.

A number of our employees competed in the St. Paddy’s Day Dash 5K Run/Walk in Wauwatosa. We were well represented at the finish line as Melissa Zavadil, Matt Gaulke, and Dennis Doyle placed first, second, and third, respectively, in their age groups. This event was a great fundraiser for the GMAR Youth Foundation to promote scholarship opportunities for local children.

Find us at the next event in your town!

  • April 9: Great Midwest Bank’s Employee Walk at the Pettit National Ice Center to Benefit the Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity
  • April 12: Dane County Habitat for Humanity Build
  • April 26: Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity Build
  • May 22: 9 Pin Tap Tournament through GMAR
  • May 24/25: Gift of Wings Family Kite Festival at Veterans Park
  • June 1: Bridal Show Expo in Brookfield (tentative)
  • July 13: Mad City Bridal Expo in Madison (tentative)

Continue to check our Facebook page for these upcoming events and to scroll through our Simply…Local Events album. While you’re there, find out how you can Turn the Key with GMB in order to LIVE MORTGAGE FREE!

The contest runs now until July 31, 2014.  Official Contest Rules at www.facebook.com/greatmidwestbank.

Great Midwest Bank. Your Simply…Local, Simply…Social bank.

Member FDIC.

Posted in Banking, first time homebuyers, Homeowner Info, Just For Fun, Local Events, Madison, Mortgages | Tagged | Comments Off

Turn the Key with GMB

Turn the Key Whether you believe us or not, warmer spring days ARE on the horizon. With warmer days come many fun festivities and once-in-a-lifetime moments. Your daughter’s first Easter egg hunt in Grandma’s backyard… Mom pinning Johnny’s boutonniere before he poses for Prom pictures on the staircase… aunts and uncles raising a toast at the dining room table in honor of a graduate… Regardless of the celebration, the home always plays a KEY role in these lasting memories.

That is why there is no better time to make a house your home with the help of Great Midwest Bank. Whether you are looking to build your first home, purchase your next home, or refinance your existing mortgage, our loan officers can handle your every need. When you TURN THE KEY WITH GMB, you will also be entered for a chance to LIVE MORTGAGE FREE.

Before you go daydreaming in empty open houses this spring, fill out an online mortgage loan or refinance product application here for your chance to LIVE MORTGAGE FREE. Simply LIKE us on Facebook for contest details and you could win a $100 VISA gift card. One will be given away every month.

The contest runs now through July 31, 2014.

Great Midwest Bank. Your Simply…Local, Simply…Social bank.

Member FDIC.

Official Contest Rules at https://www.facebook.com/greatmidwestbank

Posted in first time homebuyers, Homeowner Info, Mortgages | Comments Off

Wish You Were Here!

Grandparents_Facebook Assets Earlier this week, winter reared her ugly head in Southeastern Wisconsin. You may have already shoveled snow off your driveway or scraped ice off your car. Just thinking about doing that over and over again for the next three (heck- who are we kidding) five or six months kind of makes you want to take a vacation, doesn’t it?

Why not start by taking a permanent vacation from big bank checking? Now through January 17th, when you open a Totally Free checking account at Great Midwest Bank, you’ll be automatically entered to win $1,000 as part of our Wish You Were Here contest. How you use that cash is up to you, but we’re thinking a vacation somewhere warm will sure sound nice come January!

By opening up a Totally Free Checking Account at Great Midwest Bank, you will receive:

  • Friendly customer service at all NINE branch locations
  • NO minimum balance requirement
  • FREE cash withdrawal at any of our 600 ATM locations
  • Access to 24/7 telephone, mobile, and e-Banking options
  • An entry in the $50 Monthly Prize contest 
  • An entry in the $1,000 Grand Prize contest

Already do your checking with Great Midwest Bank? Well, we want to give you a shot at the $1,000 Grand Prize, too! All you have to do is refer a friend who opens a checking account of their own at Great Midwest Bank, and you are BOTH entered to win the $1,000 Grand Prize. Receive multiple entries by referring multiple friends. Each month, we will also select one person to win $50, to be deposited directly into their checking account.

The contest runs now through January 17, 2014.

Official Contest Rules at http://www.simplylocalbank.com/.

Great Midwest Bank. Your simply . . . local, simply . . . social bank.

*Restrictions and Other Fees may Apply/ Member FDIC.

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Tax Credit for First Time Buyers!

Are you – or do you know – a first time home buyer? If so, Great Midwest Bank has a program that will definitely catch your eye. Great Midwest Bank is one of the few lenders offering a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) Program. Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) Program is a tax credit available to first-time home buyers here in Wisconsin. The credit is available for both WHEDA and conventional loans. The program provides a special tax credit to qualified applicants which reduces federal income tax liability for as long as they have the mortgage.

Who Is Eligible?

You’ll be surprised to hear that not only first time homebuyers can take advantage of
this great program. Veterans as well as those purchasing in federally designated target area are also eligible. To be eligible, you have to meet the following criteria:

  • Home must be used as primary residence for the life of the loan.
  • Home must be an owner occupied single family, condominium, or a 2 unit that is 5 or more years old.
  • Borrower must fall within the income and purchase price limits.
  • Borrower must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • At least one applicant signing the first mortgage note must complete a WHEDA approved home buyer education program.

How Does It Work?

Assume a first time homebuyer has a conventional mortgage of $142,500. The interest on the loan for the first 12-months would be about $6,000. If determined eligible for MCC, the applicant could claim a tax credit of 25% of the interest amount paid, or about $1,500, in the first year. This credit would reduce the amount of federal income tax they would otherwise owe when filing their federal tax return. It is the same process for veterans and those buying in the target area; but they can actually claim up to 40% of annual interest paid. It is important to note that any borrower’s annual mortgage tax credit cannot exceed $2,000.00.

Is There A Cost?

Yes, there is a small one-time cost for qualified borrowers. It is $150 for WHEDA loans and $600 for conventional fixed rate loans. However, the benefit clearly outweighs the cost. Using the example above, if the borrower stayed in that home for 5 years they would have already saved up to $7,500!

It is easy to see how beneficial and cost effective this program can be for borrowers that qualify. If you or someone you know is interest contact one of our experienced loan officers. They would be happy to provide you with more information and/or determine if you are eligible.

Posted in Banking, Conventional, first time homebuyers, Mortgages, WHEDA | Comments Off

We’re Getting Divorced…Now What?

Though it’s obviously an emotional process, a marriage that ends in divorce requires careful consideration of the division of a couple’s assets and liabilities. Often, the home is the largest asset and the related mortgage the most significant liability in a marriage. One way to divide the equity in a home is to simply sell it, split the proceeds, and perhaps look to buy a new home if possible.  The other option is to buy the departing spouse’s share of equity in the  property and refinance alone.

So what should be taken into consideration in either circumstance?

Agree in writing on your Marital Settlement. To establish a game plan and negotiate a
Marital Settlement that works, consider discussing your mortgage situation with us by contacting one of our Loan Offers as one of your first steps. Treat it like a pre approval.  And find a real estate agent who can perform an initial assessment of value on your home, regardless of whether you plan to sell or not. Too often we hear from customers after they have already agreed on terms.

Though your marriage need not always be finalized by a court to proceed with a refinance, information pertaining to spousal and child support and division of liabilities is critical. Note, too, that any support payments made to the other party will be viewed as a debt, the same as a vehicle or student loan payment.

As part of your meeting with us, review a copy of your credit reportto check your score and review other liabilities that may need to be split. Credit scores over the past five years have been increasingly important to determine eligibility but also to determine if
additional costs will be incurred.

Refinancing to remove a spouse will require you to qualify based on income, credit scores and equity in the home. We’ll need pay stubs, W2s, tax returns and the Marital Settlement Agreement. Recognize, however, that we’ll usually need a minimum of six months’ history for support payments before it can be considered income for underwriting purposes.

Once you’ve been qualified on income and assets, we will obtain an appraisal to determine the current value of the home. The value of the home will determine eligibility to refinance and may also resolve the equity owed to the departing spouse, though some couples request a separate appraisal outside of the mortgage process to determine value.

At closing of the refinance, the departing spouse will be required to sign a Quit Claim Deed to remove his/her name removed from the property and to protect the credit of both parties. If the departing spouse failed to pay other debts, a lien could be placed on the home. However, while this action takes the departing spouse off the house’s title and leaves it in the one name only, it does nothing to remove their name from the existing mortgage until it is paid off by way of a sale or refinance.

When you’re prepared, the process should be no longer than any other refinance – in today’s market an estimated 45 days. Refinancing after a divorce could be the first step in helping you regain control of your life while also protecting yourself and your credit.

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Should I Buy a Condo?

Buying a condo is a relatively affordable, low-maintenance
alternative to the traditional single-family home.  And – as with all major investments – there are a few key issues to understand before taking the plunge.

One of the most important issues is determining whether the condominium project itself is eligible for conventional fixed-rate financing.  The answers to the following questions, which are part of a standard questionnaire required by most lenders, will help make that determination.  But in reality, they are questions you should consider for your own good as you make the investment in a project:

  1. Is the project finished or are there more planned phases?
  2. If unfinished, how financially strong is the developer?
  3. Are the majority of the units sold or are some vacant and/or rented?
  4. Are the unit owners in control of the Condo Association?
  5. Do sufficient reserves exist to cover future maintenance costs?
  6. Are other owners keeping up with their condominium dues?
  • An established, well-sold project with the majority of units occupied by the unit owners will stand a much better chance of qualifying for long-term, fixed-rate financing.
  •  How many units in the project are rented?  Condo associations will sometimes allow condo owners to rent out their units because they cannot sell them due to poor market and/or lending conditions. Owning a condo that is neighbored by several rental units may negatively affect the average condo unit value.
  • Are there any issues with the building construction and/or maintenance?  Not all
    builders or buildings are created equal. A project with construction issues can be discovered by analyzing the Condo Association’s previous and current annual budgets – and the minutes to their meetings.  An experienced home inspector can also help you to find any building flaws that could ultimately mean higher monthly dues and/or large, unexpected special assessments.
  • Other considerations:  What do the covenants, bylaws and restrictions allow you to do/not do with the unit?   What maintenance do the assessments cover/not cover?  How many special assessments have been levied in the past few years, and what were they for?

Great Midwest Bank offers fixed rate financing for qualified projects and may be able to offer a Portfolio product for those that do not otherwise qualify for secondary market fixed rate products.

Owning a condominium is definitely the right move for some buyers.  But the purchase process requires more homework for you and your lender.

Search for Madison condos HERE and HERE for more Condo Blogs!

Call me at the Office – (608) 827-5152, or Mobile – (608) 609-5191 or email me for more information. Twitter: @simplylocalbank

Posted by John Schroder NMLS ID #967896

Posted in Banking, Conventional, Homeowner Info, Mortgages | Tagged , | Comments Off

Four Strategies to Avoid Getting Stuck in a “Bidding War”

More often in today’s real estate market, buyers find themselves in an all-out ‘Offer Competition’ when trying to buy their dream home.  They have already done their homework by getting pre-approved, determining what neighborhood they want to live in, and what type of home appeals to them.  But now are staring down 3 or 4 other buyers who are determined to buy the same home.

While offering the most money might seem like the obvious way to win a bidding war, thankfully sellers don’t always choose the highest offer. There are situations where sellers might prefer offers that stand a greater chance of closing and/or that meet some of their other non-financial “needs”.

If you find yourself in an “Offer Competition” here are some tips to increase your chances of winning without adding to the price:

  1. As suggested above, have your lender pre-approve you BEFORE you look for a home, which is almost always required by any good Realtor these days.  You will immediately be ready to make an eye-catching offer to the sellers; one with a very comforting pre-approval letter attached.
  2. Choose a bank whose pre-approval letters are known to be unfailing.  Unbelievably not all pre-approval letters are actually based on the borrowers’ ability to get a loan!  Ask your realtor if your bank is known for issuing trustworthy pre-approval letters, or if it gives a pre-approval letter to anyone that can fog the proverbial mirror.  Further, a Seller often prefers to see a letter these days from a local lender like Great Midwest, as the national banks have had difficulty meeting closing deadlines in many circumstances.
  3. Cash is King. Some buyers are comforted to see a buyer put down a meaningful earnest money deposit.  If you have the cash, consider putting down a larger than normal earnest money deposit.  Which buyer appears most sincere to the seller – the one who offers an earnest money deposit of $500 or the one who offers $5,000?
  4. Meet the sellers “needs”.  You already have your pre-approval letter to
    show the seller you’re serious, so now make your offer irresistible by meeting
    some other undisclosed “need”.  Have your realtor ask if the sellers need a quick close, or if they would like an extra 15-30 days to move out after closing.  That
    might be enough to tip the scales in your favor.

Check out our mortgage calulators and sign up for our Rate Watch so we can notify you daily or weekly with rate updates.

Check out these FAQs on loan programs, rates and fees.

Call me at the Office – (608) 827-5152, or Mobile – (608) 609-5191 or email me for more information. Twitter: @simplylocalbank

Posted by John Schroder NMLS ID #967896

 

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78 Reasons to Like Us!

  1. We’re in our 78th Year.  Started @ Jefferson & Wells.  Cathedral Bells.
  2. In 1935, when we were founded, a car cost $580.
  3. We’re Simply Local.
  4. We’re Simply Social.
  5. Mortgage Lending.  It’s what we do.  
  6. Seriously, we’re really good at Mortgages.
  7. More than 600 Free ATMs.  Find one here.
  8. Low Fees and Competitive Rates.  Get your own custom quote!
  9. Locally serviced mortgages.  Payments right here at home.
  10. Family Run and Mutually Owned.  For Main Street.  Not Wall Street.
  11. We love the Brewers.
  12. We love the Badgers.
  13. We love the Packers.
  14. We love Marquette.
  15. We love UWM.
  16. We smile.
  17. We’re on YouTube.
  18. We’re on Facebook.
  19. We’re on Twitter.
  20. We’re on LinkedIn.
  21. We Blog.
  22. Free Coffee.
  23. Free Cookies.
  24. Free Dog Treats – ask at our Drive Thru!
  25. Free Money.  Down Payment Assistance, that is.
  26. Sue Berg Roedel.
  27. Local, Experienced Loan Officers.  Find one here.
  28. No-and-Low Fee Checking Options.
  29. 5-Star Rated by Bauer Financial for our financial stability.  We’re here to stay.
  30. Great Online Banking.  Use Popmoney to pay friends and family.
  31. John Schroder in our Madison Office.  He’ll always put you first.
  32. Mobile options – Text Banking and an App to keep your life simple.
  33. Hassle-free Mortgages. Application to Closing.
  34. Home Improvement Loans for minor – or major – Remodeling.  We have options.
  35. We juggle.  <—-Just click!
  36. Realtors think we ROCK.
  37. We’re giving away $100 a week through March.  Like Us for a chance to win!
  38. Local, common sense mortgage approvals.
  39. Convenient locations in Metro Milwaukee, Madison and Chilton.
  40. Bankers Hours?  HA!  Call or email our Loan Officers anytime.
  41. Apply Online.
  42. Apply in Person.
  43. Apply by Phone.
  44. Apply by Email.
  45. Apply by Snail Mail.
  46. Apply by Carrier Pigeon (inquire within).
  47. We’re a WHEDA low down payment approved Lender.
  48. We’ll come to you to close your loan.  Even in the hospital!  Ask Greg!
  49. Our Customers dig us.  And they refer friends and family all the time.
  50. We’ll help you build your dream home.
  51. We have excellent penmanship.
  52. John Schroder speaks Spanish.  And is a heckuva Loan Officer to boot.
  53. Our Mortgage Resource Center is chock-full of goodness.
  54. We LOVE first-time homebuyers.
  55. We’re humble.  And it’s hard to be humble.
  56. Mortgages-made-easy.  We’ll help you through those unexpected roadblocks.
  57. By family-run, we mean it.  Now in our 4th Generation.
  58. We Know Who We Are.  And Who We Are Not.
  59. Matt Gaulke, with us since 2006, loves Country Music.
  60. Our Employees are often for life.  Exhibit A: Tammi Amundson.
  61. We pay interest on YOUR real estate tax escrow money.
  62. Portfolio Loans for those with a square peg.
  63. We give away AWESOME pens.  Seriously!
  64. Cyndie Higgins at Bayside.  Our know-it-all on Down Payment Assistance.
  65. We give away other free stuff, too.  Just ask!
  66. Our Greendale (Southridge) office was just remodeled.
  67. Our cozy fireplace in our Hartland office.
  68. To us, buying a home is personal.
  69. Donna Ouellette and Mary Ann Scheel.  Two of our Friendliest Loan Officers.
  70. Free Parking.
  71. Free Lollipops.
  72. We invented the Internet.  Or was that someone else?
  73. Jon Reetz in Brookfield.  And our voice on the radio.
  74. We take the time to give you 78 reasons to Like Us.  Talk about Details!
  75. We live where you bank.
  76. Dennis Doyle, our President, can dunk.  For real.
  77. Great Midwest Bank Timesaver Traffic.
  78. #GreatTips on Twitter.
Posted in Banking, Just For Fun | Comments Off

Considering a Major Remodel? We have Options.

Location, location, location. We’ve all heard this about real estate – and it’s so true, right? You love your neighborhood, your schools and getting to work is so convenient. But your house no longer meets your needs. If you’re considering a remodel, take some time to talk with a trusted Realtor to find out what projects are most likely to add value to your home.  Once you’ve decided on a plan, Great Midwest can offer two options for financing your remodeling project.  Another important point here:  You’ll find that big banks and mortgage brokers have little to no alternatives, especially if you’re in need of construction financing.

If you have sufficient equity in your home “as-is,” a Great Midwest Home Equity Product may be your best bet.  This is most often an easier and less costly route.  We’ll use either a new appraisal (cost $375) or, on a more limited basis, the current tax assessment to determine your home’s current fair market value.  Without a need for an appraisal, we can usually close and have funds in your hand with a couple of weeks of receiving your financial information and formal application.  Most lenders like Great Midwest Bank will lend as much as 80% of the value.  Using this figure as a guide, take your home value - less the current first mortgage amount – provides the available home equity amount available.

In the current market, however, we realize home equity has decreased in nearly all of our markets, but far less than it has nationwide.  When that’s a challenge, we can consider a Construction Loan, uilizing the “post completion” equity in the value of the soon-to-be remodeled home.  The loan amount is based on this projected value and can be used to payoff any existing first mortgage, though that’s not always the case. Though you’re not building a brand new home, the process looks and feels very much the same, short of a few steps.  An appraisal is required and the appraiser will utilize the plans/prints of the project, the cost breakdown from the general contractor, as well as data from the last 6-9 months of recently sold homes.  The timeline from delivery of the application, prints/plans and cost breakdown to the closing table is approximately 3-4 weeks with costs that are higher, on average, than a regular purchase or refinance transaction, in part due to title costs, which one of our experienced Loan Officers can discuss in more detail.  Upon completion of the construction project, most borrowers’ goal is to convert a construction loan into long-term fixed-rate financing, which can include additional costs.

Not sure where to start or having trouble determining the right program to finance your remodeling project?  Call me at the Office – (608) 827-5151, or Mobile – (608)333-3674 or email me for more information. Twitter: @simplylocalbank

Posted by Rhonda Clayton NMLS ID #663934

Posted in Banking, Construction, Home Equity Loans, Homeowner Info, Madison, Mortgages | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Appraised Value vs. Assessed Value – What’s the Difference?

As a homeowner or home buyer, it’s important to understand the difference between the ‘Tax Value’, usually referred to as ‘Assessed Value’ and the ‘Appraised Value’ when trying to determine the ‘Fair Market Value’, which presumably should be at or near the eventual selling price.  To get a monthly report showing recent home sales in a particular neighborhood, check out this free tool from our friends at danecountymarket.com.

Many customers look at the Tax Value – which is often publicly available online on your municipality’s or county’s website – and assume that the number provided there represents a fair sales price. While there are a few instances where the Assessment might actually equal the sales price, it’s important to understand that it would only be a coincidence. Both valuations are unique and are done for different purposes.

The Tax Assessment is, by State Law, required to be performed by a municipality (here’s a list of Dane County tax websites) at regular intervals that often can be years apart in order to fairly levy annual taxes against real estate located in its jurisdiction. Its purpose therefore is to provide a basis for collecting the taxes necessary to meet the annual budget, not to provide an eventual buyer the price they should pay for that property. Furthermore, Assessors may not even be licensed appraisers, or they may not have even seen each property assessed, and as a result not consider recent property improvements or it’s current condition, including a need for even fundamental repairs. Much of their information is taken from public record and may not necessarily be current or accurate for selling price purposes.  You have the right to appeal your Assessment.  Check out this link for information from the State of Wisconsin, and in particular pages 14-23 for specifics on the Appeal process.

An Appraisal, on the other hand, is ordered for the specific purpose of determining the current market value (sales price) of a specific piece of real estate on a specific date. At Great Midwest Bank, the appraiser must be licensed in evaluating market data, approved by the bank’s Board of Directors, and provide a valuation that represents the ‘fair’ sales price of the home if it were bought or sold today. The appraiser relies on current market data including recent (within 6 months or less) sales on properties that are usually similar in style, size and location to the subject property.

In summary, an Assessor’s valuation only provides an indication of value, and in most recent years the eventual sales price is very often below that Assessed value. One common question we get is “If the property sells or appraises for less than the Assessed value, won’t my real estate tax bill drop”? Not necessarily. Remember that municipalities have budgets to meet. If you can convince the Assessor that your property did sell for a ‘fair’ price, for your bill to drop significantly there would have to be an absence of other properties reassessed at a lower price at the same time. If most everyone experiences a drop in their home’s value, it’s more likely that all tax bills would remain the same as the previous year, unless budget cuts are made at the municipality.

Call me at the Office – (608) 827-5152, or Mobile – (608) 609-5191 or email me for more information.  Twitter: @simplylocalbank

Posted by John Schroder NMLS ID #967896

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Simply… Local. That’s Sue Berg Roedel.

Sue Berg Roedel stepped off a Milwaukee city bus in June 1973, blissfully unaware she would spend the next four decades dedicated to Great Midwest Bank. 

 “I was 17 years old, looking for a job, and Great Midwest Bank was the first place I walked in to,” she says. “It was the first full-time job I ever applied to.”

 She started as a cashier at GMB’s first location, at 432 E. Wells in downtown, not knowing what it was a cashier did. She worked as a teller, loan secretary and loan officer — even filled in working relays for the phone switchboard — before working her way up the ladder to become the highest ranking woman at the bank. Today, Sue is assistant vice president residential lending & regional manager, based at the newly renovated Greendale location. 

 June 11, 2013 will mark her 40th year of service. That’s 40 years of fielding phone calls, answering e-mails and servicing multiple generations of customers. She has yet to make the leap to Twitter. ”I don’t know Twitter, but I hope to meet him one day,” she jokes. 

 Sue is the first to say that her longevity isn’t a unique story at Great Midwest Bank. ”My story is one of many,” she says. ”It’s been great. 

 “It’s a fun business to be in. I took care of the grandparents, the parents and now I’m helping the kids get mortgages and refinance their homes. And it has been great working for a company as fair and giving as (GMB) has been.”

 In an age where Big Banks are quicker to pass along a 1-800 number than answer a question, one can see why Sue has had success: She’s equal parts knowledgeable counselor and affable confidant — she embodies community spirit, and has the stories to prove it. 

 In 1990, Berg Roedel was on a neighborhood stroll with her then-2-year-old son when she came upon a man sitting on a bulldozer,  overlooking an empty lot. The man stopped her. “How do you like the neighborhood?” he called out. “We love it,” she answered. The man bought the lot, did a construction loan with Sue, and recently refinanced that same home with Sue for the fourth time. 

 That’s community banking. 

 When she’s not helping others, Sue enjoys traveling and spend time with her sons Chris, Jeff and Andy. Today, she and her husband are empty-nesters. No immediate plans for retirement, but if she ever does, she’ll have generations of great stories to look back on. And she still sometimes finds herself back where she began — at 432 E. Wells.

 “Today, it’s Louise’s (cafe),” she says. “Sometimes I go back and have lunch in the booth where my desk used to be.”

 Check out Sue’s website here, and give her a call at (414) 421-1066 if you’re in the market to buy, build or refinance!

We’re simply social!  Visit simplylocalbank.com to learn more!

Posted by Jon Reetz / @jreetz on Twitter / NMLS ID #296610

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Cash to Close

So you’re thinking about buying your first home.  Or maybe selling and moving up.  Though most prospective borrowers come to me with some idea of the funds necessary for down payment, many don’t have a good grip on the additional funds necessary for costs and pre-paid expenses.

Minimum required down payments vary by loan program – Great Midwest Bank offers four primary programs:  Conventional Fixed, Portfolio ARMs, FHA and WHEDA.  I discussed down payments, loan-to-value and the necessity for mortgage insurance in this previous post.  When you make an offer, a portion of your down payment is provided to the seller in the form of an earnest money deposit. $1,000 – $2,000 is typical, but I’ve seen deposits as large as $10,000 to strengthen an offer in a competitive bidding situation.  These funds are credited to you at closing.

But what will you need in addition to that down payment?  Well, of course, you’ll have to typically pay closing costs, which can vary greatly among lenders.  All lenders are required to provide you with a Good Faith Estimate if you apply.  In today’s mortgage environment, Great Midwest is among the low-cost providers due to our ownership structure, financial strength and direct relationship with institutional providers like Fannie Mae.  In some situations, we may be able to offer a reduced- or no-cost loan by passing along a higher interest rate.  Advertised rates usually assume an excellent credit score and a large down payment.  To access their programs, Fannie Mae charges lenders higher fees to make loans to borrowers with lower credit scores and/or smaller down payments, which are passed along to those borrowers.

Not all buyers understand some of the pre-paid expenses necessary, either before or at the time of closing.  Some are more obvious:  A home inspection (not typically included as part of the loan transaction, but a $300-400 expense nevertheless) and the first year’s premium for property insurance.  Other pre-paid expenses include daily interest through the end of the month at time of closing (many purchase closings take place at the end of a month, which minimizes this expense), real estate taxes for the month that is “skipped” following closing, insurance premiums for that same month if that is included in escrow (not typically at Great Midwest) and, finally, mortgage insurance premiums, if applicable.

In recent years, home sellers have been willing to assist buyers with the costs and pre-paid items noted above.  Every situation is unique, and the more competitive the sale, the less apt sellers will be to chip in.

Rest assured, one of our Loan Officers will provide you with a firm estimate of your total “Cash to Close” at the time of pre-approval so you can shop confidently for a home and know exactly how much cash you’ll need to close on your new home.

Find a local, experienced Loan Officer for more information.

We’re simply social!  Visit simplylocalbank.com to learn more!

Posted by Jon Reetz / @jreetz on Twitter / NMLS ID #296610

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LTV, PMI, FHA & FNMA – Huh?

Like most industries, we love acronyms in the mortgage world. LTV is the loan amount divided into the value, where value is determined as the lesser of the appraisal or, if you’re buying, the purchase price.  This is the point at which I start most conversations with borrowers because the amount (or percentage) of a borrower’s down payment will often dictate the mortgage product utilized.

So you’ve heard about PMI, right?  As you probably know, this is Private Mortgage Insurance, a requirement that exists when the LTV is above 80%.  In actuality, Private Mortgage Insurance only exists for non-FHA (Federal Housing Administration) type loans, most often referred to as Conventional loans.  

The nuance here is, though mortgage insurance exists for FHA, it’s not private. FHA loans are insured by the government.  And for the first time in its 78 year history, we may be looking at an FHA bailout due to loan defaults.  In fact, FHA mortgage insurance premiums – which are paid both up front AND as part of a monthly payment – have climbed over the past few years because of these defaults and resulting losses. FHA loans are now more costly than ever – both at closing and on a monthly basis.  

Great Midwest utilizes a couple of sources for fixed-rate Conventional loans, including Fannie Mae (FNMA). When PMI is necessary, we employ a third party – one of a handful of national mortgage insurers – that insures us from loss should a borrower default.  Premiums paid on the loan (either up front as a single premium OR, more commonly, monthly – but not both) are sent by the lender directly to the private insurer until the LTV typically reaches 80%, at which time the borrower can request release. Lenders typically release it at 78% LTV.  PMI on Conventional Loans is often less expensive than FHA loans, especially for borrowers with excellent credit and a solid financial footing.

Last, mortgage insurance in any form may be tax deductible.  Consult your tax advisor for more information, as you don’t want to get in trouble with the IRS.  Sorry, couldn’t resist one more acronym!

Call me at 262-641-1319 or email me for more information.  Twitter: @simplylocalbank

Posted by Jon Reetz NMLS ID #296610

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To our Madison-area Customers: Here to Serve!

Please welcome John Schroder to our Mortage Lending team.  John is at our Odana Road Office and is ready to serve our ever-growing customer base in Madison.  To those that came to know the outstanding service that Jim Gullick and his team offered since we expanded to Madison in 1974, you can expect much of the same from John.

John Schroder is back with us after a few years away – having worked for Great Midwest in the Milwaukee market for three years – and brings with him over 20 total years of banking experience.  “Returning to Great Midwest Bank was a very significant event for me professionally and personally.  This is a locally-run institution that consistently delivers what it promises – and more – to its clients and employees.  We’re guided by rock-solid business principals that have not only resulted in a strong financial position, but have also proven to our customers that we know exactly who we are as an institution.  Reading between the lines – this means that our clients can depend on us year-after-year, or more accurately, decade-after-decade to keep their best interests in mind.  It’s the kind of organization that I want to work for because I can be confident about the quality of the products and services I deliver to my clients, friends and family.”

We’re proud to have such a strong loan officer in place to serve you.  Call the Madison Office at (608) 833-4400 or click on either John’s name above for more information.

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Interest Rate Shopping & Credit Scores

Perhaps the most frequent question I get about credit scores pertains to multiple inquiries. Those shopping for a mortgage are often hesitant to apply at multiple banks for fear of seeing their credit score fall.  This article – straight from the horse’s mouth at Equifax – points out that the three major bureaus provide you with a 30 day window in which to shop without having a score affected.  Multiple inquiries are treated as a single inquiry.

In fact, most every lender is using a tri-merged report, including scores for TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.  Sidenote:  TransUnion is often the lowest score for us Midwest folk as they have more information on us than the other two bureaus, increasing the odds that they’ll pick up that Heat & Electric bill your roommate “forgot” to pay the last semester of college.  Point being, if one lender provides you with a report, use the middle score when calling for rates and you can avoid multiple inquiries anyway.

The last point I’ll make on this topic:  In practice, if your score is 770+, you need not worry about multiple inquiries over any period of time.  740 is all you need for the best rate these days.  Those hovering closer to 700 need to be far more concerned with multiple inquiries.

For more information, call 262-641-1319 or email me!  I’m here to help!

Posted by Jon Reetz  NMLS ID#296610

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The Mystery of Credit Scores

I’ll admit it.  After more than a thousand mortgage loans in 10 years, I’m often perplexed by the formulas used by the major credit agencies that provide mortgage lenders – and other credit issuers – with consumer scores.  Though I’m usually able to diagnose the reason for a lower score, I can’t say it always makes sense.  This recent article sheds light on additional requirements the agencies will face to fairly represent our credit profiles.  It’s certainly time that the bureaus face strict requirements given the fundamental importance placed on scores in the home-buying process.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve surprised people with credit blemishes of which they have no knowledge.  Top of the list:  small medical collections – as little as $30 for a co-pay – that damage scores by as much as 100 points.  One of my long-time customers was prevented from refinancing for TWO YEARS!

The Silver Lining:  #1 Fixed rate loans place the most emphasis on scores.  But if you’re able to finance your home over a shorter term, the additional costs for lower scores may not apply.  #2 Great Midwest Bank offers portfolio products as an alternative to those with lower-than-average scores.  We’ll use common sense when analyzing your scores.

Call me at 262-641-1319 or email me for more information.  Twitter: @simplylocalbank

Posted by Jon Reetz NMLS ID #296610

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Buying a home? Consider WHEDA!

Rumor has it that it’s more difficult than ever to finance a home purchase these days. Most of what I hear in that regard is fairly exaggerated – or completely false. After 10 years of originating mortgages, I can plainly say that those with an average-to-above-average credit profile, a solid income, and access to some down payment funds stand a good chance of being able to buy a home. That’s no different than it’s ever been.

To that point, one of the absolute best home purchase mortgage programs going right now is through the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority, otherwise known as WHEDA. They offer three distinct programs – two Fannie Mae programs (with and without Mortgage Insurance requirements) and an FHA program. My personal favorite is the Fannie Mae Advantage program without Mortgage Insurance. Though the market rate is slightly higher than other Conventional and FHA options, it’s safe to say that this program most often results in the absolute lowest monthly mortgage payment.

Traditionally, buyers were only eligible as first-timers. WHEDA lifted that restriction earlier this year. Household income limits apply and vary by county, however.  Through local lenders like Great Midwest Bank, WHEDA offers a streamlined pre-approval process that provides you the confidence you’ll need to shop for a home knowing you’re good to go.

For more information, call me at 262-641-1319 or send me an email.  I’m here to help!

Posted by Jon Reetz NMLS ID #296610

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Big Banks Strike Again

News this week of $5/month charge for a debit card have me baffled.  You can find an AP video here and a USA Today article here.

Bank of America announced that they would be charging many customers this new fee to replace revenue they are losing because of ongoing regulatory changes in our business.  Though B of A doesn’t have a major presence in our neck of the woods, suffice it to say that the domino effect will soon bring it here to other large (non-local) banks that are faced with charging consumers with more fees to make up for losses in other areas.

Great Midwest Bank offers a variety of account options and also no-fee ATMs at most of our branches.  Additionally, our customers can access over 600 no-fee ATMs throughout Wisconsin through the ATM Access Network coordinated by the Community Bankers of Wisconsin.

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