Navigating Waves of Success – Inlanta’s 2017 Sales Conference Highlights

Navigating Waves of Success

We are thrilled to announce that our Annual Inlanta Sales Conference was a smashing success! We want to thank all of our dedicated employees that attended, our trusted sponsors that participated, and our inspiring speakers that motivated our team. Not only did we learn a lot while bonding with our friends & co-workers, but we also raised a whopping $24,541 for the Cancer Research Institute through raffle & silent auction! To learn more about the Cancer Research Institute, please visit www.cancerresearch.org.

This year’s conference, held at the Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan, WI, offered the members of our Inlanta family the chance to connect with one another personally, celebrate this past year’s successes together, and learn new best practices to ensure success in the upcoming year.

Awards & Recognition

The conference also included a service award ceremony honoring those who have proudly served on our team for the past 5, 10, 15, and 20 years on. Congratulations to the following members of Team Inlanta on their service.

5 Year Recognition: Jill Golla, Diane Kramasz, Rosemary McCullough, Liz Labodda, Trisha Mulder Conwell, Mike Ponce, Josh Badciong, Jon Donovan, Mark Polanco, Gail Carrick, Yvette Clermont, Sherri Mayer, Kerry Heus, Mark Schulenburg, Jon Bakovka

10 Year Recognition: Gilbert Bundy, Jim Fittante, Mike Fittante, Andy Patterson

15 Year Recognition: Kent Sova, Emily Whitstone

20 Year Recognition: Dennis DeGrave and Chris Knowlton

As a special honor to our 20-year veterans, Dennis & Chris both received a gift fitting for what they love most. For Dennis – that means anything Harley-Davidson! For Chris – that means all things Buffalo Wild Wings, Pepsi, and Hershey’s Chocolate!

Inlanta also honored Katrina Cole, Business Development/Marketing for our Grand Rapids, MI branch, with the second annual Brand Spirit Award! Katrina was proudly recognized as an individual that has grown the basic footprint of marketing and assisted in setting the foundation of the Grand Rapids branch for future growth. She consistently comes up with exceptional marketing ideas and reaches out to Inlanta’s corporate marketing team to ensure that brand standards and guidelines are met. Katrina has also received the following awards or has obtained a seat on the following boards: National Mortgage Professional Magazine’s 50 Most Connected Mortgage Professionals; Mortgage Professional America Magazine’s Elite Women in Mortgage; Vice President of the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association West Chapter; Co-Chair of the Western Michigan Women’s Council of Realtors; and Board Member of the Michigan Mortgage Lenders Association.

Additional Highlights

The event also included a Top Producers Panel where Inlanta’s best divulged their keys to success, a number of breakout sessions featuring LOS system best practices and an Underwriting Panel, exciting company news and announcements, excellent motivational speakers, and continuing education for our Loan Officers.

On the second day of the conference, attendees experienced an excellent presentation by Garth Graham from the STRATMOR group on customer satisfaction in the mortgage industry. One of the most interesting takeaways was that satisfaction and net promoter scores were highest in the Third-Party Originations channel, proving TPO can lead to more happy clients through increased product offerings and competitive rates as well as leveraging the TPO provider’s technology platform.

Another highlight of the event included the presentation of the Customer Service Superstar Awards presented by Craig Pollack from Social Survey. Congratulations to Craig March, Dee Cayo, Yvette Clermont, Herb Lessmiller, and Jason Kupka for having the top customer satisfaction ratings in the company.

Inlanta was also excited to announce the destination of our 2017 rewards trip to beautiful Cap Cana, Dominican Republic!

Last, as the sun set on another great #TeamInlanta conference, we closed with excitement for the future – our upcoming 25th anniversary!

To see more from our Sales Conference, click here to watch a fun slideshow!

Mortgage Professional Spotlight with Dennis DeGrave

Obtaining a mortgage loan can often sound like a foreign concept to those who have not undergone the process before. The work of a mortgage professional, or a Loan Officer, can sound even more foreign to the unfamiliar. That is why we are diving in to the life of a mortgage pro with an up close and personal interview with one of our top experienced Loan Officers, Dennis DeGrave!

Check out our interview below to read what Dennis had to say about his career in the mortgage industry.

Inlanta Mortgage: Tell me about yourself… how many years have you been in the industry and what made you become an LO?

Dennis DeGrave: I have been with Inlanta for 20 years as you know, prior to this I had been doing lending for the previous 8 years with a finance company and a credit union.  One of the things I loved the best was being able to help people out financially when they needed it, so working for the finance company allowed me to help out those people with challenging credit or financial situations, however, we were typically working with pretty high-interest rates.  When the finance company was going out of business, I then was offered a job at a credit union.  The credit union gave me the opportunity to do the same thing, however now I was able to do that with great low rates to the members of the credit union.  The biggest draw for me when I then had the opportunity to work at Inlanta Mortgage, is that I now could help people of all financial statuses buy homes and experience the pride of homeownership or better their financial situations by refinancing their existing mortgages.

IM: You have been in the industry a long time – what makes you successful?

DD: Always doing what is right for my clients’ financial future.  I love to educate my clients on what options they have available and solving problems. If there is a way to help them out, I believe I can find the best solution for them to accomplish their goal.

IM: What does a typical day look like for you?

DD: A great day is when I have numerous conversations or meetings with clients and referral partners to discuss financing options.  Typical days involve reviewing applications, putting together financing options, discussing or meeting with clients to review those options, and getting loans approved and/or going to closings.

IM: What is your favorite thing about your job?

DD: Definitely attending my closings with first-time homebuyers, getting to share in their excitement of finally getting the keys to their first home and knowing that I had something to do with that historic day for them is the best.

IM: What piece of advice would you give to first-time homebuyers?

DD: Make sure they are working with a lender that explains the whole home buying process and is attentive to their questions and needs.  Buying your first home is a big deal and can be pretty stressful.  The better understanding the buyer has of how the process works and what the payments and money needed at closing are, before they start looking at homes and writing an offer, the better they will feel about the whole experience.

Special thanks to Dennis DeGrave from our Pewaukee, WI branch for giving us an inside look at the life of a mortgage industry professional!

Tips for Choosing the Right Mortgage Lender

For most, choosing to purchase a home is a big decision. Choosing the right mortgage lender to help you smoothly along the process, one you can entrust with all of your sensitive financial information who can educate you on the proper loan options based on your specific financial situation is key to a successful transaction.

Here at Inlanta Mortgage, our mission is to be the home financing partner that you trust to serve your family, friends, and community. Whether you are purchasing or refinancing, we want you to know we have your back every step of the way. While we want to assist you with all of your mortgage lending needs, we also want to provide you with the tools necessary to choose the right lender for your particular needs and circumstances. Here are some tips on how to choose the right mortgage lender.

Do Your Research

The market is changing every day. That’s why it is wise to shop around and talk to a few local lenders in your area to learn more about the types of loan programs offered and current market rates. This will also give you the chance to explain any unique financial needs you may have to see if they have dealt with borrowers like you in the past. While it may be tempting to want to choose a loan officer that advertises the “best rate,” it is important to take into account customer satisfaction, knowledge, experience, and more.

Referrals and Testimonials 

You can learn a lot about a lender based on real online reviews and testimonials from real clients they have had in the past. Successful transactions produce successful reviews and can provide social proof of happy peers in your area that are now homeowners with the help of their trusted lender. Visit your lender’s website, Google+, Yelp, or Facebook page to get an inside look at former client experiences.

Communication

Communication is key during the mortgage process, so having a lender that will stay in touch with you and keep you up to date on the status of your loan while providing you with honest feedback is important. When researching lenders, inquire with them about their communication styles and if applicable, ask to meet their team prior to conducting business with them to learn how it all works. It is important for you to not feel afraid to ask questions. Open communication with your loan officer will help ease any worries you have throughout the process.

Knowledge and Experience

Strong knowledge of the loan process, loan programs, and mortgage products available along with knowledge of the market is important when choosing the right lender. With knowledge comes experience. Working with an experienced lender who has successfully helped many homeowners achieve the American dream may help give you peace of mind during the process. Whether you are new to the process or are a seasoned homeowner, your loan officer should be able to speak with you on the process and provide you with the education and guidance needed based on your level of experience.

If you’d like to get in touch with one of our mortgage professionals today, click here to find a local lender within your area or contact us today for more information.

Preparing Financially for the Mortgage Process

Purchasing a home is exciting and adventurous. Home buyers, particularly first-time home buyers, typically don’t know a lot about the process of financing a home. To avoid making mistakes, you need to know what you should expect. It is important to consider the state of your credit, the additional costs besides just the down payment, and the important questions dealing with the future.

 

The Credit Aspect

Your credit score is one of the first things a lender will look at when you apply for a mortgage. To cut through all that confusion, here are five tips you can act on right now:

  • Check your credit reports for free once a year through the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because the information in each of the three bureaus’ reports can differ. If one or all of the reports include mistakes, your credit score may be negatively affected, and you may need to address the errors before going house shopping.
  • Be strategic with credit card use. The percentage of your credit limit that you use every month can affect your score. Make sure your balance doesn’t come too close to your limit.
  • The simplest and most important tip? Pay off your balance each month. To maintain a healthy score, pay off the balance before the due date. Anything after 30 days past the due date can spell very bad news for your score.
  • Be consistent. Good credit behavior over the long term will keep your score high.
  • Don’t take on more credit. If you apply for several different credit cards, you’re sending a message that you may have maxed out your other accounts

 

Save enough for the down payment and other additional fees

You should plan to make a down payment of 3.5% – 5% at the very least when you are determining affordability. It is important to consider that down payments are not the only costs associated with the purchase of a home. Your lender should be able to provide you with a breakdown of your costs that you will be paying upfront and on a monthly basis. Here are some basic tips to help you save for the costs associated with buying a home:

  • Start a budget: Making a budget allows you to see your expenses, how much money is coming in, and what is left over to save or pay off debts. When you have a savings goal it, helps prioritize your money by eliminating or cutting down on unnecessary expenses.
  • Automate: Once you have created a budget and figured out how much you can comfortably save each month or paycheck, set up a specific amount or percentage of your paycheck to go to savings automatically. For some, it helps to open up an entirely separate savings account for their home’s down payment and expenses. This method allows you to see how much you are saving specifically for the home buying process and keeps you from accidentally spending this money on something other than your new home.
  • Increase your income: If you are worried about cutting back expenses, or just want to save for your down payment faster, consider finding ways to increase your income. Some ideas include working overtime, getting a second job, or finding alternative ways to making money such as selling items online.
  • Save any unexpected money: When you get a large sum of money, such as a bonus or your tax refund, itis all too easy to take on the extra cash and purchase that one expensive thing you’ve had your eye on for months. Instead of going on a shopping spree, take that money and put it into your savings right away to help you achieve your dream of homeownership sooner.

 

Affordability now and in the future

Regardless of the level of income you have today, you need to figure out what the future may hold before you sign on the dotted line. For example, if you’re planning to have kids sometime down the road, how will these happy additions impact your family income? What effect will job changes have on your current income level? And have you planned for monthly payments into your rainy day savings account?

Everyone who looks to buy a home will have a payment amount that is affordable today, but in the face of your answers to the questions above, will that number still work for you down the road? These are some questions to consider as you think about homeownership.

 

Feel free to talk with a loan officer in your area to determine if homeownership is the right path for you!

Automating Your Home

Automating Your Home with Smart Technology

With the advancements that have been made in technology in just the past decade, there are many new ways to incorporate faster, more efficient, and cost-effective solutions to everyday tasks and problems. One big trend that we are seeing right now is home automation, or “smart homes.” With the help of technology, today you can make the functions in your home almost entirely automated or controllable from a smartphone or tablet.

What exactly are the benefits of home automation?

  • Those with home automation save an average of 20% on home insurance
  • You can save around 15% on your energy bill
  • Based on national averages, you could save around $1,352 each year by automating your home
  • Better security and peace of mind
  • Control over almost all functions in your home from one tablet or smartphone

What are the capabilities of a smart home?

Thermostat: You can have the ability to control your thermostat even when you are not home. By adjusting the temperature when you are not home, you save on heating and cooling costs.

Security: With a smart home, you won’t need to be paranoid about whether you remembered to lock the doors to your home. Your smart home system can tell you if your doors are locked or unlocked. Also, with some advanced systems, you can trigger lights and television sets to turn on while you are out of town to give the appearance that someone is home.

Lighting: Some smart home systems have an “all off” button to help easily turn off every light in your home at once. Sensors can also trigger lights to turn on when motion is detected outside of your home.

Television: You can combine all of your remotes into one by using your smart home app on your tablet or phone. You can even set a sequence to dim the lights, adjust the room temperature, and start a movie with one click of a button.

Communication: You can send messages room-to-room through the television or to visitors through a touch screen outside of your home. You can also get notified if there is a leak in your basement or even when the kids make it home from school.

There are many options and benefits to making your home smarter and even the smallest steps could save you a considerable amount of money in the long run. Here are some of the best smart home devices you can implement in your home.

http://www.businessinsider.com/best-smart-home-devices-2015-12

 

 

Sources

https://www.control4.com/blog

https://cleantechnica.com/2013/11/06/home-automation-benefits-infographic/