Staff of five has combined 65 years of experience
TRAVERSE CITY, MI—Article written by the Traverse City Record Eagle – Independent Bank recently opened a new residential loan office at 400 W. Front Street, in the same building that houses the North Peak Brewing Company.
Mortgage Sales Manager and Residential Loan Officer, Chris Dakoske, said the office has versatility and a level of personal service that helps it meet consumer needs.
"Independent Bank itself has a terrific menu of products that will help the first-timer start out or somebody looking for a second home, a vacation home, or somebody moving up to house number two or house number three," he said. "We have an array of products that will help just about anyone do what they are looking to do."
"Not all customers or not all situations will conform with that conventional loan: the 20 percent down payment, 80 percent loan to value, 30-year fixed rate."
Independent Bank Corporation is a Michigan-based bank holding company with total assets of approximately $2.5 billion. Founded as First National Bank of Ionia in 1864, Independent Bank is headquartered in Grand Rapids, and has more than 70 locations and more than 900 employees across Michigan.
"We pride ourselves on being a community bank," said Independent Bank Senior Communications Specialist, Lane Solomon, who pointed to the company's 'Investing in Communities' program that will award $80,000 to 16 non-profit organizations in 2017.
Before the Traverse City office was created, Independent Bank's northernmost location was a residential loan office in Cadillac.
"Independent Bank looked at this as a growth area and wanted to get involved with it," Dakoske said. "It's kind of a natural fit. There are a lot of things going on in Traverse City and they wanted to be a part of it."
The new loan office in Traverse City has just five staff members. But those five boast a combined 65 years of experience, Dakoske said.
Dakoske, who has worked with several larger banks in the area, said the size of the parent company doesn't always equate with success. Dakoske said the small staff in Traverse City also helps the office cater to "unique situations" outside of conventional loans.
"Bigger is not always better," he said. "I've worked for some really large places. You can't even get a hold of an underwriter who's ultimately approving that loan file. Whereas the smaller you go, I know I can pick up the phone and call an underwriter or get a hold of who I need to talk to, to understand what's going on with a loan situation and get answers within a reasonable amount of time so I can satisfy my customer's needs."
Senior Residential Loan Officers, Howard Rose and Jim Seeley, said Independent Bank's management also is accessible.
"It's a lean organization," Rose said. "We have access to senior management and Independent Bank is excited to be in the mortgage business. When you bring all those things to bear, we become a formidable competitor for anyone doing business in the market place."
"We have versatility in lending and an ability to communicate with upper management," Seeley added. "Here we are absolutely encouraged to contact the underwriter and ask direct questions of them to get the answers that we need to make the files move forward. You can imagine what it's like to not be able to even talk to an underwriter and communicate with them to get answers."
With the exception of an underwriter, Dakoske said the residential loan office in Traverse City can handle everything else in-house for quicker turnarounds. He said the office would like to add an underwriter to the staff.
Processor, Jen Bailey, has 25 years of financial experience, while Closer, Wendy McAuliffe, has been in the business for seven.
"They're outstanding," Rose said. "They have a lot of experience and they add another dimension to the office here. That allows us (the loan officers) to handle more of the business development instead of the processing."
Dakoske said the combination of the loan office's offerings should make it attractive to lenders. "It's who you've been with before, who you're comfortable with," he said. "It's a relationship-type business."