Banking with a Customer-Centric Culture
Story by Ann E. Butenas
Ranked as No. 1 among GOBankingRates’ Best Regional Banks of 2023, Arvest Bank helps show customers the way home through its exclusive portfolio of financial products and services.
The Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle was once quoted as saying, “The essence of life is to serve others and do good.” The banking professionals at Arvest Bank apparently got the memo, as the services they offer their communities are best in class and are designed with a customer-centric mindset. With a keen focus on the customer, Arvest Bank grew from a small bank more than six decades ago into a community-engaged regional bank that offers a vast array of outstanding financial services. With more than 200 banking locations that are a part of 14 locally managed banks in more than 110 communities, Arvest Bank stands as a respected leader in the banking industry. This is largely due in part to the professionals employed by Arvest Bank who lead with a servant’s heart and bring to the table a wealth of industry knowledge and experience.
Arvest Bank Mortgage Lender Profile: Chris Barlow
Chris Barlow, Mortgage Lender with Arvest Bank, NMLS#327550, has a strong track record in the mortgage lending arena. Although relatively new to Arvest, he has nearly 25 years of experience in the industry. He began his career as a small broker and soon started his own mortgage company.
“This was the biggest learning curve for me,” emphasized Barlow, who eventually grew to five locations across five states in the early 2000s. As things began to change in the industry, Barlow’s ambitions to take his career to another level were on full throttle. He sold his company and then worked for other national financial institutions, which opened the door to his passion.
As such, in the past decade, Barlow has worked with new home customers, helping them make the best decisions with respect to their investment.
A look into today’s House Market
Barlow indicated new and existing home sales declined from the end of 2021 to the end of 2022, primarily due to the increase in interest rates at the time. However, according to the Kanas City Regional Association of Realtors Heartland MLS, Barlow noted that in 2022, there were 36,769 existing home sales and 3,549 new home sales.
“From a positive news standpoint, the average prices of homes have gone up 15%-16% year after year over the last two years, with an average existing home price of $300,000 and an average new home price of $558,000 at the end of 2022,” Barlow indicated. “There is a demand for new homes and that value of homes are still staying strong, which is an important piece of the market. After the initial rate jump in the last 12 months, customers appear to be accepting the increase in rates and the new normal for now.”
“At Arvest Bank, we offer a total financial package,” explained Barlow. To that end, he can assist customers with one significant issue affecting consumers today: credit card debt.
“Credit card debt is the largest it has been in 20 years,” he emphasized. “The total household debt in the U.S. reached $16.51 trillion in the third quarter of 2022. The debt load, whether from car loans, non-secured debt, credit cards, and student loans, for example, makes it so you cannot afford to buy a house.”
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the 15% year-over-year increase in household credit card balances is greater than it has been in the past two decades. In fact, non-housing debt balance grew by a staggering $66 billion.
Barlow further explained that loan balances related to credit cards, mortgages and auto loans were still on the rise in the third quarter of last year, which reflects increased consumer demand as well as higher prices. However, new mortgage loan originations have lost some of their previous traction and have adjusted to pre-pandemic levels despite the rise in interest rates.
How Arvest can help customers overcome debt challenges and purchase a home
Debt consolidation is an approach Arvest will take with customers when needed. By offering personal lines of credit, Arvest can help customers reduce their monthly spending and make it affordable to buy a house.
“The beauty of this is that you can get your debt under control, get the house, refinance if desired*, and your overall financial situation will still be better,” Barlow said.
A banking prescription for physicians
Practicing physicians are eligible borrowers for the mortgage in-house physician program offered by Arvest Bank, which defines a physician as any of the following:
MD ~ Doctor of Medicine
DO ~ Doctor of Osteopathy
DDS ~ Doctor of Dental Surgery
OD ~ Doctor of Optometry
DPM ~ Doctor of Podiatric Medicine
DMD ~ Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry
We offer 100% financing** for qualified doctors up to $1.25mm, and they can even finance in the closing costs in certain scenarios. With just 5% down, we can lend up to $1.75mm for qualified borrowers. These loans do not have monthly mortgage insurance, which helps keep the monthly payment down.
In order to do this, Arvest partners customers with Private Bankers who help with all financial aspects, not just mortgage loans.
“We set customers up with a Private Banker who helps them navigate their monthly expenses,” he stated. “We also assist with commercial loans, such as for a private practice.”
New construction dreams
Barlow’s primary focus is on new construction, working with both builders and consumers building a home, as well as with traditional mortgage loans.
“We offer extended rate locks on new construction, up to 300 days on conventional ARM and fixed-rate loans, as well as Jumbo ARM loans,” he said.
Barlow enjoys getting really involved in the process, too, ensuring the new construction is all completed in a timely fashion. To that end, he runs weekly appointments with customers and maintains constant and thorough communication throughout the build process with the builder, the Realtors, and the customers.
Connecting with people for lasting relationships and helping customers with their financial situation is all in a day’s work for Barlow, but it is not something he takes lightly.
“I thoroughly enjoy the entire process when working with customers who are in the process of getting their dream home,” smiled Barlow. “I manage the stress that goes with it and will help them find a loan program that fits their budget needs.”
Despite its impressive growth since its humble beginnings, Arvest Bank will never waver from its commitment to stay true to its principles and practices that stand at its foundation. Putting the needs of the customer first is its primary mission. People helping people find financial solutions for life is what they do best.
For more information on the benefits of Arvest Bank home loans, visit them online at arvest.com/homeloan or call 913.261.2265.
To set an appointment with an Arvest associate for services including Home Loans, go to appointments.arvest.com/service.
* Financing is available for qualified customers based on income and credit qualifications. Using home equity to pay off non-mortgage debt could increase monthly mortgage payments while lowering the amount of each payment that goes toward principal. The total you pay per month toward debt could decrease, though a higher debt balance would now be tied to your home, potentially for a longer term. For your specific scenario, contact a mortgage specialist.
** Any financing over 100% must be used for taxes, insurance and other closing costs.