The Community Bank Difference

Mortgage Loans from United Bank - The Community Bank Difference

As featured in United Bank's 2024 issue of Our Story

The mortgage market shifted dramatically over the course of the last three years. Higher rates and lower housing inventory changed the demand, and many prospective home buyers either put their plans on hold or turned to new construction as an alternative.
One thing that remains constant during the market shift is United Bank’s high-touch approach to mortgage lending. The Our Story staff sat down with Mortgage Lender Jennifer Sides in Madison to learn a little more about the current conditions and how the Bank uses a customer-focused process to help home buyers find mortgage solutions that work specifically for them.

Jennifer, a resident of the Madison community for almost 20 years, joined the Bank’s Mortgage Services team in 2016 during dramatically different market conditions.

“In 2016, interest rates were low and houses were selling left and right. Many customers were able to lock in rates between two and three percent,” she said. “Then things took a big swing and rates went up. Now, the people who are moving are typically downsizing or have a need to move due to life events. The Madison market is also experiencing significant growth with the arrival of several large industries, bringing more employees who need places to live.”

She advises customers to remember that rates can fluctuate and, though they may be higher currently, there's always opportunity to either buy down the rate slightly on the front end of the purchase or refinance down the road as rates lower.

“What I tell people, especially those who opt for construction loans, is that they are not marrying the rate, they are marrying the home. Rates will come back down and there is always opportunity to refinance later,” said Jennifer. “We expect to see rates drop later this year and when we do, I anticipate a burst of refinance customers as a result.”
Aside from providing reassurance to buyers during tighter market conditions, Jennifer also delivers a personal touch to mortgage lending that customers won’t find when working with bigger online mortgage providers.

Jennifer has a huge passion for helping others with home ownership.  Here she works with other United Bank teammates on a Habitat for Humanity project.
“A part of what makes United Bank different is that our mortgage lending team is here in the communities we serve,” she said. “We are not just helping customers buy houses - we will see these customers in the grocery store and at our children’s schools - we are helping our neighbors establish their new homes.”

Mortgage loans represent pivotal milestones for many customers, and she believes each loan requires a great deal of compassion and attention.

“Mortgages are personal, and there’s a lot of information required up front - that’s where United Bank can offer more. I believe mortgage lending requires walking alongside your customer, understanding their unique situation and consistently communicating to give them a sense of comfort and security during the process.

“We're diligent to explain the ins and outs of each step, all the way down to the final closing costs. There’s a constant flow of emails between all parties involved. Active communication is the key to helping customers understand we’re as invested as they are in their mortgage, and we’ll do all we can to help them complete the purchase.

“Our customers don’t have to call an 800 number. They can call the Bank and talk with me directly. We make every effort to build relationships with our customers rather than just treating them as transactions,” Jennifer continued. “About 50 percent of my customers have returned for a refi or even a second home purchase several years later. I get to know them personally. In fact, one of my first mortgage customers is now one of my best friends.”

When asked about the most rewarding part of her job, Jennifer immediately answers, “The smiles on the faces at the closing table. It’s a great feeling to know you helped people make what is likely the biggest financial purchase of their lives.”

United Bank Mortgage Lenders are available in every market within the Bank’s footprint, ready to help their new neighbors. 
Learn more about United Bank mortgage services and apply today.