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Reviewing The 2019 Holi-days of Giving

This year’s Holi-Days of Giving program was an incredible experience for all involved. We received hundreds of nominations, and found 13 families/individuals who deserved a little extra holiday cheer this year. Each recipient received $500 in holiday gifts from the Bank. Thank you to everyone who nominated someone this year for the program. We wish you all a very happy holiday season!  If you have a moment, we would encourage you to scroll through the photos and read some of the chosen nominations.

Branch: West Brookfield
Gift Recipient:  Paula, Ryan and Sara Patoka.
Nomination:  We lost my husband, the children’s father August 14, 2015 to a 4x drunk driver. We were behind him on his motorcycle, we were 4 car length behind. He got hit and killed by a drunk driver going 60mph. Then the drunk driver came for us and hit us head on. The nightmare still lives on in every one of us. Our Faith got us through but Christmas is a holiday where we miss Roger even more.

Branch: East Brookfield
Nominator:  Terry Pomeroy
Nomination:  Alexander disease is a type of leukodystrophy characterized by the destruction of the myelin sheath (the fatty covering that acts as an insulator around nerve fiber) and abnormal protein deposits known as Rosenthal fibers. Most cases of Alexander disease begin before age 2 years (the infantile form).  Brooklynn is currently in the 5th grade within the Greenfield school system.  She has limited ability to read or write, and struggles to walk for any distance as she quickly runs out of energy.   She does have a bit of a sense of humor and is always very positive and happy.

Branch:  Germantown
Gift Recipient: Paul Langenecker
Nomination:  Paul Langenecker is my brother-in-law and most know he has been battling Cystic Fibrosis since birth. Those who don’t know, Cystic Fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that mainly effects the lungs and digestive system. The body produces thick sticky mucus that decreases lung function, and stops nutrient absorption. This also puts the body at great risk for infection.   Paul is 26 years old and has been with my sister for the last 10 years. In September 2018 they had an absolutely beautiful wedding and shortly after they found the house of their dreams as any couple wishes to do someday. Cystic Fibrosis had other plans though, that made life challenging for them and the entire family so far. Shortly after they bought their house Paul’s health deteriorated, the discussion about a lung transplant, which is inevitable with Cystic Fibrosis, was the topic after that. His daily medical regimen includes multiple breathing treatments, enzyme medication to help with digestion of food, vest therapy, and many medications. All the hours that he takes out of his day and life and he has NEVER complained, but it was about to get harder. As time went on he was spending more and more time in the hospital, having to stay for weeks at times to fight the nasty infections that caused havoc in his body.   Throughout all of this Paul has stayed so positive and optimistic. He is the last person in the world who should have to go through something like this. With all the challenges and the fight to breathe every single day of his life he is always determined to keep everyone around him positive and is always trying to help others when he is able. Paul is currently at the UW Health University Hospital in Madison where on October 30th he got a call for a perfect match on lungs to be able to breathe again.  He underwent a bilateral lung transplant. In the years I’ve known Paul and all the help he has done for me and everyone around him I feel it is my time to help him. Thank you for your time.

Branch: Glendale
Gift Recipient:  Jonathan Wright
Nomination:  On behalf of the whole Glendale Team, we would like to grant this wish to Jon for many different reasons.  During this past year, Jon went into the hospital for a procedure.  The procedure did not go as planned, which left Jon as a walking quadriplegic.  Jon had to spend several months in assisted living.  Jon was finally able to move home.  However, as with a diagnosis like this, the Wright’s home was not equipped to help in Jon’s recovery.  Additionally,  Halina (Jon’s wife) was also one of the many individuals that was affected by the closure of the Boston Store’s.  Collectively, the Glendale Team decided to nominate Jon not only because of the tragic diagnosis that Jon has, but also because of the many contributions that Jon has made to the Glendale community.  Jon was one of the very first customers of Glendale, when we first opened.  Jon was the previous president of the Friends of Kletzch Park.  While Jon was in his role, Jon was amazed at how Bank Five Nine tried to give back to the local community.  During our first drive for school supplies, Jon went back to his board and collected school supplies as a donation.  Through the many challenges that the Wright’s have had over the past year, you would never known any of this has happened.  The Wrights are a very giving couple and more than deserve this wish.

Branch:  Grafton
Gift Recipient:  Jessica Storm
Nomination:  Jessica found out she had breast cancer while 29 weeks pregnant. She went on to get 4 rounds do chemo while pregnant and 8 more rounds of chemo after baby was born. She beat cancer! She then noticed a spot on her body and had it tested and it was skin cancer. She beat that. Then a few months later she was having head aches and went in for a scan to find out the breast cancer had traveled to her brain before she did the chemo the first time. She has gone through cyber knifing and is now taking a chemo pill. Through all of this she has choreographed dances for two high school dance teams, has been a mom to a 1 year now, and stayed positive through everything. I would love to make her Christmas a little less stressful and help with all the medical bills she has endured.

Branch:  Hartland
Gift Recipient:  Liz Michaelis
Nomination: Earlier this year, the Michaelis family received devastating news.  Liz hadn’t been feeling well since April.  After a few misdiagnoses and continued deterioration in her health, July brought the worst possible prognosis.  A horrible diagnosis was delivered to her…  “Liz you have stage 4 lung cancer.  Your life expectancy is maybe 5 years.”  Liz is a 37 year old mother of 2 young boys (3 and 5) and wife of Eric.  After wrapping her thoughts around what just happened this year, Liz is battling hard to fight her cancer and to make sure she can create memories and endless smiles for her two boys with whatever time she may have left.  With her weakened condition, she is no longer able to work to provide a little bit extra to go on fun excursions with her family and her husbands’ salary goes straight to the bills.  Knowing that the number of Christmases Liz will have with her family is most likely limited, adding as much joy and surprise to this year’s Christmas will certainly help her look past the tragedy cancer has brought to her and her family.  Helping Liz maximize the smiles, laughs and overall loving moments she can have with her young family will make this Christmas more special for them.  My goal in writing this request is to make sure the Michaelis family has at least one more excursion where mom, dad, Clayton and Miles are all together laughing, smiling and building lasting memories.  Thank you in advance for taking the time to consider this request as I am sure there are many deserving families that can use your help.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Branch:  Hartford
Gift Recipient:  William Emslie
Nomination:  He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer Easter Sunday. He has been going through chemo since then. Surgery is scheduled dec 17. He will be in hospital 7 to 10 days. His birthday is dec 24. He might be in the hospital for Christmas and his birthday. He is a hardworking farmer and a kind man. He could use some Christmas/ birthday cheer!

Branch:  Menomonee Falls
Gift Recipient:  Kathy Moon
Nomination:  My sister Kathy is the rock of our family. For over 20 years she lived with and cared for our mother before she died. She also has been the caregiver for my brother for over 20 years. My brother, David Lindquist, is a disabled vet who was injured in a terrible accident while serving in the United States Navy and stationed on Iceland. Kathy has devoted a large part of her life caring for her mother, brother and now grand kids. She has very little free time for herself and loves to visit Door County. It would be a great show of appreciation to allow her some time for herself in a place that she loves. Thank you for your consideration.

Branch:  Mequon
Gift Recipient:  Sydney Miracle
Nomination: Sydney Miracle is a local high school student who has been fighting several debilitating medical diagnoses, one of which is MALS (Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome).  MALS is a rare condition affecting 2 of every 100,000 people where the median arcuate ligament decreases the blood supply to her digestive system and causes severe nerve inflammation in the abdomen resulting in extreme pain and the inability to eat or drink anything.  Sydney has been tube fed for the past 12 months.  This ligament and associated nerves will be release in her upcoming surgery on December 5th in Connecticut where she will remain for at least 3-4 weeks.  Though the procedure is lengthy and comes with risks and a 6-12 month recovery time it has the ability to significantly improve her quality of life. Syd’s younger sister has started an awareness campaign.  In addition, the family has said the 2 best ways to support Syd is to send her picture on the day of her surgery with #togetherwithsydney and to simply say a prayer for her and send her your favorite bible verse.   Pain is real but so is hope…#togetherwithsydney

Branch:  Oconomowoc – Main
Gift Recipient:  Nicole Becher

Nomination: Nicole is a single mother of an 18 year old daughter and a son who is 14 years old. Nicole works as a janitor at OHS. She recently found out that her young daughter has thyroid cancer. Her daughter needed surgery and Nicole had to take time away from work to be with her daughter as she battles cancer. To be a single mom, knowing you have to financially care for three people in your household and to now to have the added pressure of all the medical bills that cancer treatment brings is a lot on one person. I would really like Nicole to receive some financial help that in turn would hopefully relive some of her stress. With her being a single parent it puts a big burden on her shoulder. I would like Nicole to get some financial help to pay medical bills for her teenage daughter who was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Branch:  Oconomowoc – Brown St.
Gift Recipient:  Eliza Ellis
Nomination:  I met Eliza and her family in Spring 2019 and their story touched me. As a mom, I can’t even begin to imagine the stress this family is under and as Christmas approaches, I am sure providing financial health support while also trying to give Eliza a special non-health related gift is tough but also very much wanted. From Eliza’s GoFundMe page, written by her parents on 5/22/19:   There is no greater pain than watching a child suffer.  Eliza Ellis has battled through devastating, life altering health issues as a child.  She was living her life as a teenager, when at age 16, she woke up one day with an ear infection.  Her family never could have guessed where that would lead. She began to experience difficulties in walking, speech regression, dystonia (a movement disorder with uncontrollable, jerky movements and painful muscle spasms), sleep disturbances, and other items. Her life and the lives of her family have been turned upside down.  Eliza is now 18 and could really use a special surprise.  I would love to see if we could give Eliza a holiday “surprise” and feel a camera or the Walt Box would give her a creative way to express herself and capture some moments/memories for her family. I hope she (and her family) are considered as a recipient of Bank Five Nine’s Holi-Days of Giving.

Branch:  ​West Bend
Gift Recipient:  Jennifer Mesko
Nomination:  Jen puts her heart, energy and finances into making the holidays so special for high school students who need a positive influence.  Hundreds benefit from her efforts and the celebration continues to grow with support.  A true need in our high school environment.  Too many homeless and unprivileged students that need to know we care during a difficult time for them. I love to see her receive gifts to contribute to her Holiday of Hope Christmas Party for needy high school students.

5 Ways to Up Your Money Game in the New Year

Many people make their resolutions for self-improvement in the new year. While the most popular resolutions tend to focus on physical health, the start of a new year is also a perfect time to prioritize your financial wellness.

Ready to get started? Read on.

1. Make a Budget and Stick to it.

Budgeting is one of most effective ways to manage your money. Creating and monitoring a budget allows you to track your expenses, adapt to changes, and achieve your financial milestones. Budgeting can also help you save for emergencies and plan for the long run – including retirement.

Use our online budget building tool to break your budget down into simple, easy steps and get started: Budgeting Tool

2. Build Your Emergency Savings.

Unexpected expenses happen more often than we like to think. According to a 2018 Bankrate study, more than half of Americans are not financially prepared to cover the costs that come with emergencies, such as illness, job loss, or even home and auto repairs.

Get more information on the immediate steps you can take this year to start and grow your savings here: Emergency Savings Module

3. Plan for Your Retirement Now.

Less than half of Americans take the steps needed to set themselves up for a secure retirement. While saving for the future is easy to put off in favor of more immediate needs, the earlier you start, the more opportunity you’ll have to grow your savings over time.

There’s no better time than now to start planning for retirement. Learn about options, like IRAs and 401(k) plans, with our free retirement education here: Retirement module

4. Get Ahead of Your Taxes.

Taxes are confusing, and many people get bogged down by complex terms and lengthy paperwork. However, your taxes don’t need to be a source of anxiety. In fact, getting ahead of your taxes can reap many benefits, including lowering stress and having early access to a refund for year-long planning.

Make filing your taxes a breeze with tips from our five-minute interactive learning module here: Taxes Module

5. Take Control of Your Credit.

Your credit score can have significant impacts on your financial security and flexibility. Many people have never had the opportunity to learn what a credit score is, what factors impact a credit score, and what actions they can take to make sure their score is healthy.

Take a few minutes to understand the factors that impact your credit score and you’ll be well on your way to building a more secure financial future here: Credit Score module

Access our entire library of financial education topics here.

This article was developed as part of Bank Five Nine’s partnership with EVERFI, Inc.

#moneyminute V2

Have a financial question? Ask us! We will compile the financial questions we receive, big and small, into a blog to be posted on Fridays. Feel your question is silly? No question is silly, but no worries, you’ll remain anonymous.

Email your questions to with #moneyminute as the Subject or message us on Facebook!

There are so many credit cards out there. How do I choose the right one?

There are a lot of credit cards available to you. It is important that you apply for a card that offers you the best overall value. Look closely at the differences and don’t be afraid to ask around. Along with your spending habits, consider looking at the following when comparing cards:

  • Minimum Payment Requirement
  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR): This is the cost of borrowing on the card, if you don’t pay the whole balance off each month
  • Fees and Penalties
  • Credit Limit (This is the amount of money that the credit card issuer is willing to let you borrow)
  • Different credit cards offer different benefits, like:
  • Travel Rewards: Some cards contribute frequent flyer points for every dollar you spend.
  • Cashback Rewards: Instantly save a certain percentage off every purchase in the form of cash back at the end of the month.
  • Other Perks: Many credit cards offer other valuable benefits like extended warranties, reduced prices on car rentals, special bonus categories for extra points/cashback, and more.

What is a cashier’s check and what are they used for?
A cashier’s check is a check drawn from a bank’s funds and signed by a cashier or teller. The most important difference from a regular check is that the bank guarantees its payment, not the check purchaser. Cashiers confirm that the purchaser has cleared funds in his or her account before issuing a cashier’s check. Cashier’s checks are best for large purchases, such as a house sale or car, or when you are unable to use your debit or credit card. When you receive one of these checks from a bank, all parties can be confident that the transaction is secure and the risk of theft or fraud is minimal. When getting a cashier’s check you’ll want to:

  • Have the exact amount and recipient’s name ready before requesting the check – you can’t get a blank cashier’s check.
  • If you’re using a bank where you have an account, make sure you have sufficient funds in your account to cover the amount of the check and any fees.
  • Visit your nearby branch and request the check from a teller.
  • Pay the check amount plus any applicable fee.

Can you please explain a bit about a credit score?
Credit Scores are numbers that are roughly between 300 and 850, that measure your “creditworthiness”.  Your credit score number is used to help determine whether you qualify for a particular credit card, loan, or service. There are many benefits of having a good credit score, like enjoying a lower interest rate on your credit cards and loans. There is no secret formula to building a strong credit score, but there are some guidelines that can help.

  • Pay your loans on time, every time. One way to make sure your payments are on time is to set up automatic payments, or set up electronic reminders.
  • A long credit history will help your score. Credit scores are based on experience over time. The more experience your credit report shows with paying your loans on time, the more information there is to determine whether you are a good credit recipient.
  • Only apply for credit that you need.
  • Don’t get close to your credit limit. Try to keep your balances low compared to your total credit limit. Paying off the balance each month helps get you the best scores.

Email your questions to with #moneyminute as the Subject or message us on Facebook!

School Supply Drive Overview 2018

During the last few months of summer, Bank Five Nine coordinated their annual School Supply Drive.

With the help of our employees, customers and community members, we donated thousands of items including notebooks, binders, folders, glue sticks, rulers, scissors, brand new backpacks, and much more.

Thank you to everyone who donated. All donations and proceeds will benefit the following local schools and organizations.

  • Our Brookfield East Branch donated to Dixon Elementary School
  • Our Brookfield West Branch donated to Burleigh Elementary School
  • Our Grafton Branch donated to Family Sharing in Grafton
  • Our Glendale Branch donated to Messmer High School
  • Our Germantown Branch participated in Stuff the Bus in which Riteway delivered the school supplies to Kennedy Middle School
  • Our Hartford Branch donated to the School District of Hartford Joint #1
  • Our Hartland Branch donated to Lake Country Caring
  • Our Menomonee Falls Branch donated to Riverside Elementary
  • Our Mequon Branch donated to the Family Sharing of Ozaukee County
  • Our three Oconomowoc Branches teamed up and donated to the Hebron House
  • Our West Bend Branch donated to Good Shepherd Lutheran School

A Crash Course in Cash Management

Cash Management, also called Treasury Management, may sound formal, but it’s really not. Cash Management is all about helping business clients manage cash flow through a series of products and services. It could be as simple as accessing accounts online, or more complex like payroll and HR needs. Whatever the need, Cash Management provides time-saving tools to manage the day-to-day financial activity of a business, allowing the business owner to do what they do best…run their business!

Many services make up the arsenal of a Cash Management suite. They may include fraud prevention, sweep accounts, ACH origination, remote deposit capture, merchant services, and payroll services. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these is all about.

Fraud Prevention

Positive Pay

This service is designed to protect a business customer against fraudulent or altered checks clearing the business’ checking account. The business simply uploads a file into the bank’s positive pay system whenever checks are issued by the business. The uploaded file includes the date, check number and amount of each check issued. Thereafter, each day when checks are presented against the customer’s account for payment, any item where the check number and amount don’t match the information uploaded by the business, it will result in an exception. The bank then sends an email to the customer alerting them of the exception no later than 1:30am the day after the check posts. The business customer must then go into Business Online Banking before 11am that same day, review a copy of the item and then make a pay or return decision. If the customer does not contact the bank by the 11am cut-off, the default setting previously chosen by the customer to either pay or return will take effect.

ACH Filtering (or Blocking)

This service is designed to protect a business customer against fraudulent or unauthorized electronic transactions from clearing the business’ checking account. The most common type of ACH Filtering begins with the business customer providing Bank Five Nine with a list of companies authorized to debit their accounts including individual dollar limits, if desired. Bank Five Nine’s ACH Filtering software then compares any incoming ACH debits to the customer’s authorized list. Any ACH debits that are not on the list are considered exceptions. Additionally, any ACH debits that are on the authorized list but exceed the maximum dollar amount allowed are also considered exceptions. The bank then sends an email to the customer alerting them of the exception no later than 1:30am the day after the ACH debit posts. The business customer must then go into Business Online Banking before 11am that same day, review the details of the ACH debit and then make a pay or return decision. If the customer does not contact the bank by the 11am cut-off, the default setting previously chosen by the customer to either pay or return will take effect.

Sweep Accounts

Investment Sweep Account

Each night, funds above a predetermined target balance in a business’s checking account get “swept” into an interest-bearing account collateralized by U.S. government securities. When the account dips below the target balance, the necessary funds are transferred back in. It’s a simple solution to ensure the cash is working it’s hardest. Sweep accounts allow the business to maintain liquidity of funds while maximizing interest income.

Automated Clearing House (ACH) Origination

ACH Payments

This process automates payments to vendors and suppliers, virtually eliminating the cost of check printing, preparation and postage. Payments are scheduled and automatically debited from the business checking account at the business’s direction. Identifying information is transmitted to the payment recipient electronically, and voila, the funds are there! It can be used for the electronic deposit of payroll and making corporate to corporate payments.

ACH Collections

Businesses can offer their customers an effortless way to pay cable and utility bills, insurance premiums, membership dues, and other recurring payments. The business receives their money faster, while eliminating more expensive manual collection methods. When a customer authorizes the business to debit their account for payment, funds are received electronically, allowing the business to more accurately predict cash flow and increase control over their receivables.

Remote Deposit Capture

Express Deposit

Express Deposit allows a business to use a desktop scanner connected to their PC and the Internet to submit customer checks for deposit. Once the checks are scanned, the deposit is sent electronically to the account of choice. This service eliminates the need to go the bank to deposit funds, and even better, transactions made before 6pm will be applied during the current business day (weekends and holidays excluded)!

Merchant Services

Merchant Services provides businesses with the ability to take customer payments using credit and debit cards. Many financial institutions, including Bank Five Nine, will partner with a company that specializes in these service offerings. It can be as simple as a terminal connected to a cash register or computer, or as complex as Point of Sale packages, online website design or online shopping programs. New products are regularly being integrated to give businesses a state of the art credit card experience.

Payroll Services

Payroll services offer businesses comprehensive solutions to help pay their employees. Besides processing payroll, services can include benefits administration, time and attendance programs, human resources, and talent acquisition.

If any of these services have piqued your interest, or if you’d like more information about Bank Five Nine’s cash management offerings, please visit our webpage, or contact a member of our cash management team!

What You Should Know About Credit

What is credit? Why does it matter? And how do you find out if yours is good or needs improvement? These are all really good questions to ask as your credit helps different companies determine whether or not they will lend to you. Poor credit may affect everything from credit cards, car loans and apartment rentals, to school loans, and buying your own home.

Your credit-worthiness is determined by your credit score; a 3 digit number calculated by five different categories of information in your credit report, including:

  1. Payment history
  2. Utilization
  3. Length of credit history
  4. Recent activity
  5. Overall capacity

This 3 digit number helps creditors and lenders determine whether or not they think you’ll repay the loan you’re asking for. Let’s take a closer look at the categories that make up your credit score.

  • Payment history is by far the most important factor of your credit report. It’s essential to pay your bills on time, every single time. Any late payment is going to have a significant effect on credit scores. Your payment history accounts for about 35% of a credit score. 1
  • Utilization, which is the balance-to-limit ratio on your credit cards, is the second most important criteria. You never want a balance to be higher than 30% of the credit limit on a single credit card or in total. To determine your utilization rate, add up all of your balances and all of your credit limits and divide the total of your balances by the total of your limits. That percentage should not be more than 30% as a maximum. It has been found that the people with the best credit scores have zero late payments and utilization rates of less than 10%. Your utilization rate accounts for about 30% of your credit score. 1
  • Length of credit history, which is based on the length of time each account has been open and your credit mix, which is the different kinds of accounts you have including mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, etc… Having a variety of credit types can increase your score slightly, but you should not apply for a number of accounts all at once to try to improve this element. Doing so will do more harm than good.1
  • Recent activity looks at how much credit you’ve received or applied for in recent months. Specifically, it will look at if you have applied for new credit in the past 3 – 6 months, new inquiries, and whether you are paying off accounts or taking on more debt. 1
  • Overall capacity, such as how much installment debt you currently have outstanding. 1

While different creditors and lenders have their own standards for rating credit scores, generally, a score of 700 or higher is considered good.

As it pertains to a mortgage, which may be the biggest purchase you ever make using a loan, having a good credit score may mean the difference between getting approved or denied. Even if you have a credit score that qualifies for the lender, a better credit score means less potential risk to that lender, and they can offer you a better interest rate. With a better interest rate, you may be able to qualify for a higher loan amount. To qualify for the best possible rate, your score should be in the mid-700s or higher. But keep in mind, your credit score is just part of what lenders look at for determining your credit-worthiness. Even with an acceptable credit score, your credit report will be reviewed for items such as bankruptcy, foreclosure and other derogatory credit items.

Which brings us to credit reports. It’s a good idea to review your credit report on an annual basis, making sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date, especially before you apply for a loan. Reviewing your report also helps guard against identity theft. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. When they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report, potentially affecting your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job. 2

The good news is that the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. To order your free report, visit, call (877) 322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to the address found on the form. 2

If you find inaccuracies or errors, be sure to tell the credit reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Credit reporting companies must investigate the items in question – usually within 30 days. When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting company must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. 2

All-in-all, your credit score is a very important piece, used throughout your life to obtain many of the larger items purchased during different life stages. If you find that your credit score could use a little improving, consider these five ways to help: 3

  1. Make sure your credit reports are accurate
  2. Fix any late payments
  3. Clear up any collection accounts
  4. Limit credit applications
  5. Consider getting a credit card and pay the balance each month to build good credit

If you’re interested in obtaining a loan, or have questions regarding your credit as it relates to a loan, Bank Five Nine is happy to help! Give us a call at (888) 569-9909, visit your nearest branch location, or find a lender near you.

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2 Information sourced from

3 Information sourced from

Pre-Closing and Closing Checklist for Home Buyers

Finalizing your mortgage is perhaps the most crucial step in the home-buying process. It’s important to be prepared by creating a pre-closing checklist for home buyers and a closing checklist for buyers, so you know what to expect. The lenders here at Bank Five Nine have decades of experience and serve as your trusted advisor throughout the entire process. Our goal is to ensure that you feel completely comfortable with each step. Here is what to expect for a closing checklist:

Immediately Upon Acceptance of the Final Contract:

  1. Provide your lender with a copy of the contract and earnest money receipt.
  2. Discuss your interest rate locking options.

It’s important to be pre-qualified before you start looking for a home because typically you have only five days from the date of the contract to apply for the mortgage loan. It is crucial to provide your loan officer with all the supporting documents they request as soon as possible to alleviate a delay in closing.

Your lender is federally mandated to provide you with your Loan Estimate and other related disclosures within three business days of receiving your mortgage application and property address. The Loan Estimate lays out important information about the loan you applied for, including the estimated interest rate, monthly payment, and total closing costs for the loan.

If you have agreed with your lender to accept your Loan Estimate electronically and e-sign it by email, this is the quickest and most efficient way to receive them.

Regardless of how you receive the Loan Estimate and disclosures, it is crucial you view and sign them immediately after receiving them.


  • Order a home inspection if it is written in your contract.
  • Determine if you would like a radon inspection and order it from the home inspector.

During the Home Inspection:

  • Take any measurements for furniture, window
  • treatments, appliances, etc., that you may need.
  • Take any photos of the house, if desired.
  • Ask the home inspector any questions you may have concerning the home’s condition or construction.

One to Two Weeks Following the Acceptance Date of the Final Contract:

  • Have your real estate agent create a list of items, noted by the home inspector, that you request the seller to remedy.
  • Reserve a moving truck or schedule a moving service, keeping in mind that they tend to get booked up toward the end of the month.
  • Notify your lender to order an appraisal if your home inspection is satisfactory to you. Typically we will not order an appraisal until after you have viewed the home inspection.

Two Weeks Before Closing:

  • Contact your insurance company to purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy for your new home. Your lender will need an insurance binder from your insurance company 10 days before closing.
  • Check in with your lender to determine if they need any additional information from you.
  • Get a change of address package from the U.S. Postal Service and begin the change of address notification process. Arrange for a change of address with all of your financial accounts directly, and contact your utility, telephone, internet, cable, and/or satellite companies about a switch or termination.

One Week Before Closing:

  • If you haven’t already heard from your lender, touch base with them to ensure that your closing date is on schedule and confirm the time and location.
  • Request the certified funds you’ll need for closing from the appropriate financial institutions. Some funds, such as stocks and home equity loans, take three days to clear your bank account.
  • Make certain that your homeowner’s insurance agent provided your lender with the appropriate insurance documents.

Three Days Before Closing:

  • If applicable, verify that any required repair items in the inspection amendment have been addressed.
  • Your lender is federally mandated to provide you with your Closing Disclosure at least three business days before closing. The Closing Disclosure lists the final terms of your loan, final closing costs, and the details of who pays and who receives money at closing. Review your Closing Disclosure for accuracy to ensure you completely understand the figures and to verify you are receiving any contracted credits from the buyer.

Day Before Closing:

  • At this time, you also can request to see your entire closing package. While your lender will review each document in your closing package with you during the closing, you may want to request the closing package in advance if you prefer to read each document in detail.
  • Conduct a walk-through of your new home with your real estate agent to verify that the condition of the house is the same as when it was placed under contract.
  • Double-check that inspection items have been addressed.
  • Receive your certified funds for closing. Remember, personal checks are not accepted.

Day of Closing:

  • Bring a photo ID for each mortgage holder.
  • Bring your certified funds.
  • Bring any additional documents your lender may have requested.

A Closing Checklist for Buyers on the Day-of:

Plan on your closing lasting approximately one hour. First, you will review your loan documents with your loan officer. Your lender will counsel you on each document and answer any questions you may have. Your real estate agent does not need to be present while you review your personal financial information unless you specifically request him or her to be there. After reviewing the loan documents, you may be joined by the sellers and any real estate agents. At this point, you will be signing documents pertaining to the purchase of the property. This is also the time to ask the seller any questions about the property that haven’t already been answered. The seller also will provide you with keys and garage door openers to your new home. Many people choose to have the locks to the house replaced or re-keyed for security.

We have a team of mortgage lenders who will provide a pre-closing checklist for homebuyers, who are also ready to help with all your home financing needs. Learn more about Bank Five Nine lending and choose a lender to get started by clicking here!

The 411 on Mortgage Closing Costs: Who Pays More Closing Costs Buyer or Seller?

If you’re in the process of purchasing or refinancing a home, or even just in the research stage, you’ve probably heard the term ‘closing costs’ more than once. Closing costs are a necessary part of any mortgage loan transaction. However, not everyone knows what they’re comprised of, why they exist, or how they work. Before we dive in, there are a few terms we’ll reference that we’ve defined below:

  • Lender – the financial institution you would borrow money from to purchase your home. Example: Bank Five Nine
  • Borrower – you, the person/people who are borrowing the money to purchase your home.
  • Purchase Transaction – when you are purchasing the home/taking out a mortgage loan from your financial institution.
  • Refinance Transaction – when you are refinancing an existing loan on an existing property, through your financial institution.

Here are some things you should know.

Who pays more closing costs, buyer or seller?

The term “closing costs” encompasses a variety of fees and expenses that must be paid before a borrower can officially close on their mortgage loan. Some of these costs include title-related fees, government fees, mortgage insurance, and property-related fees, to name a few. Below is a breakdown of who pays more closing costs, buyer or seller, and what the expenses may include.

Title related fees:

  • Lender’s Title Insurance – protects the lender in case a problem with the title of the property arises.
  • Title Endorsements – additional coverage for the Lender’s Title Insurance that can vary by property state, mortgage product, and by property type.
  • Owner’s Title Insurance – ensures that the borrower has rightfully become the owner of the property; protecting the borrower.
  • Attorney Fee – in certain states, an attorney may be used to conduct the loan closing. In other states, a borrower may choose the option of hiring an attorney for peace of mind that the transaction is done correctly.
  • Other title fees vary by state and may include a title search fee, closing protection letter, wire fee, and courier fee, to name a few.

Government fees:

  • Recording Fees – fees charged by the county to record the mortgage document. If it’s a purchase transaction, there will be a recording fee on the deed.
  • Transfer Taxes and State Taxes – depending on the state, there can be transfer taxes on a purchase transaction. Some states charge a tax based on the amount of the mortgage for both purchases and refinances.

Mortgage insurance:

  • If you’re using certain government products or certain conventional loans with less than 20% down payment/equity, the loan may require mortgage insurance. This could be an up-front and/or monthly fee.

 Property-related fees:

  • Appraisal Fee – is required on nearly all loans.
  • Pest Inspection – in certain states, a pest inspection may be required.
  • Flood Determination – confirmation as to whether a property is in a federally declared flood zone.

 Prepaid items:

  • If property taxes are going to be due, the lender may require they be paid at the time of loan closing. Homeowners insurance is a requirement, and again may be required to be paid at closing if not already obtained. Flood insurance is required if the property is in a flood zone.  Prepaid interest will also be likely – Example: If the loan is closing on April 15th, and the first payment is due on June 1st, the extra 15 days of interest will be paid at closing.

Escrow items:

  • Depending on the loan program, an escrow account for insurance and taxes may be required.
    • What is an escrow account? Established by the mortgage lender, it is a banking account meant to hold the money for the borrower’s property taxes and insurance payments. 
  • Depending on when the insurance or taxes will be due, an amount will likely be collected at closing to make sure those items will be paid from the escrow account when the time has come.

Other Items:

  • Lenders may charge additional flat fees such as processing, administration, and origination fees.
  • Discount Points – depending on the rate the borrower chooses, the borrower could be charged a fee in order to select a reduced interest rate.

How are closing costs factored into a loan closing?

These fees are typically paid at closing on a purchase transaction. Some lenders may require certain fees to be paid prior to closing, such as an appraisal fee. Typically, you wouldn’t see closing costs figured into your loan as part of your regular mortgage payment, however, on refinance transactions, and certain government up-front mortgage insurance, costs can be included in the loan, resulting in a higher loan amount and higher payment.

Who typically pays more closing costs, buyer or seller in the final closing costs?

On refinance transactions, the borrower pays the costs. On purchase transactions, the fees are mostly paid by the borrower. But in certain states, the seller may traditionally pay certain fees. For example, in Wisconsin, transfer taxes and owner’s title policy are typically paid by the seller. Depending on what is agreed between the seller and buyer, the seller may give credit towards closing costs.

Will the location of my new house affect what I pay in closing costs?

Yes, depending on the location, certain fees may be higher. A Florida homeowner’s insurance policy may be higher than a Wisconsin insurance policy due to the threat of hurricanes. Lender’s and owner’s title policy costs vary by state. Closing fees can vary within a state as well, for example, metro Chicago closing fees are much higher than those in a rural area of Illinois.

Do I have to pay closing costs if I refinance my existing loan?

Typically yes. Another appraisal will be needed to ensure the value remains. The lender’s title policy is needed again to ensure no additional liens were put on the property. Certain fees such as transfer taxes would not apply though.

Are the fees set in stone?

Most fees aren’t something the borrower can negotiate. However, title-related fees are “shoppable”, meaning the borrower is allowed to determine who will provide services like the title and closing, which may result in a lower fee depending on what organizations are chosen.

If you would like more information about who pays more closing costs, buyer or seller, or would like to talk to a Mortgage Lender about a loan, please visit

Be Aware of Fees Associated with Buying a House

Several one-off expenses are involved in buying and moving into a new home. When you’re thinking about fees associated with buying a house, make sure you plan for these:

  • Home inspection: A home inspector will do a visual inspection of the dwelling to identify any defects in the home.
  • Closing costs: Closing costs are expenses over and above the price of the property in a real estate transaction. Costs incurred include loan origination fees, discount points, appraisal fees, title searches, title insurance, surveys, taxes, deed recording fees, and credit report charges.
  • Homeowners insurance: Homeowners insurance is a form of property insurance designed to protect an individual’s home against damages to the house itself, or to possessions in the home. Homeowners’ insurance also provides liability coverage against accidents in the home or on the property.
  • Moving costs
  • Connection fees
  • Urgent maintenance
  • Extra furniture or appliances
  • Origination fee: This is a fee charged by a lender on entering into a loan agreement to cover the cost of processing the loan.
  • PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Insurance is required to be paid for by the borrower to protect the lender in the event payments are not made on time; most often required when the loan amount exceeds 80% of the purchase price.
  • Title insurance: Title insurance is an insurance policy that covers the loss of ownership interest in a property due to legal defects and is required if the property is under the mortgage.
  • Recording fees: The fee charged by a government agency for registering or recording a real estate purchase or sale, so that it becomes a matter of public record. Recording fees are generally charged by the county since it maintains records of all property purchases and sales.
  • Appraisal fee: A home appraisal is an estimate of a property’s value. Mortgage lenders require an appraisal on your home before they’ll provide a loan for the simple reason that the property is the underlying asset that serves as collateral for the loan. Paying for the appraiser falls on the shoulders of the home buyer.

Purchasing a home is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. There is a lot to consider and often a lot of questions you would like answered including where to start. You can start with Bank Five Nine and our local lenders to learn about all the fees associated with buying a house. They’ll be able to walk you through the process, look at your unique situation and form a recommendation, in addition to offering a free pre-approval or second opinion.  Not everyone has thousands of dollars hidden in their mattress for a rainy day. If you’re one of the millions who don’t, Bank Five Nine has lending options for you. Click here to learn more about our mortgage lending.

10 Things That Could Negatively Affect Your Application for Credit

There are several financial activities can change your approval for a mortgage, and some that may even disqualify you. Here are ten things that could negatively affect your application for credit.

  1. Making expensive purchases. Buying a new car, furniture, appliances or opening a new charge account adds additional payment liability and could impact the loan qualification.
  2. Getting a new job or reducing your hours. A job change may be okay but work closely with your loan officer to review changes prior to making a move. A reduction in hours causes a concern about income.
  3. Switching banks or transferring money. To eliminate potential fraud, most lenders require a thorough paper trail to document the source of all funds.
  4. Disregarding your lender’s requests for information. Lenders need copies of bank statements, W-2s, pay stubs, and other paperwork in a timely manner.
  5. Not making timely payments on credit card, installment or utility bills. The credit report has an expiration of 90 – 120 days depending on the loan program. A new credit report may be needed prior to the closing of your loan.
  6. Neglecting to list a debt or other significant item on the application. A review of income documents will often reflect other obligations such as child support or business expenses.
  7. Starting any new legal proceedings. Divorce, being a party to a lawsuit, new judgments and filing for bankruptcy are all found on court records and will be noted in the title insurance policy.
  8. Co-signing a loan for anyone. A recently co-signed loan may be calculated as part of your monthly debts and could impact loan qualification.
  9. Making large deposits to accounts if the money cannot be tracked on paper. Undocumented money can cause the whole account to become unusable for the transaction.
  10. Spending the money needed for closing prior to closing. Many times updated balances are requested on loans.

Before you make any purchases or employment changes, talk to your lender.

Want to learn more? Click here to contact one of our mortgage lenders! These are the experts! We have a team of mortgage lenders ready to help with all your home financing needs.