Sound Advice

The process of buying a home is often one filled with both excitement and some degree of uncertainty. It’s an invaluable education that can also come with frustration if not handled with care. The more you know up front, the more seamless the process, and understanding all your options before even looking for a home is key. Providing that sound advice to potential borrowers is what makes Benchmark Mortgage a trusted source, time and time again.

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When branch manager Eric Almquist opened the Omaha office three years ago, he was ready to launch a much different company than the traditional corporate lending model he’d been working in for the previous 19 years. He wanted to create a culture that built relationships rather than simply sold loans, cultivating a foundation of trust and a desire to help people in any type of situation. “The mortgage industry is changing, and you either go down a path of a call center mentality or an advice mentality, and we are the latter,” Almquist said.

With only 65 locations across the country, Almquist said Benchmark is a small, family-oriented company with a true entrepreneurial spirit. They meet with every potential borrower in-person from the start and make sure they have a very clear understanding of all financing options. One area in which they specialize is helping veterans, an area that loan officer Rachel Pierce is passionate about. “We’ve made it a priority to be VA trained and certified so that we have a deeper understanding of VA loans,” she said. Much of that focus is spending time educating veterans about what their benefits are.

In fact, the entire company has a mission to help veterans by partnering with The Brain Treatment Foundation, which provides trauma and mental health support, The Third Option, which provides relief to families of casualties of Special Ops, and 22Kill, which raises suicide awareness for veterans. A military themed approach is even used among Benchmark employees, illustrating the importance of having the right team and how important it is to their overall success. Even the patriotic décor throughout the Omaha office exemplifies the team’s commitment to this important cause.

It’s all of these elements that attracted both Brian Farley and Allyson Leisey to the Benchmark team. Every day they are driven to help create the “5 Star Experience” for everyone they encounter, whether that’s a borrower, agent, or another party involved in the process. “We work with very intelligent, solution-oriented, positive people, which starts at headquarters and works all the way across,” Farley said. “We all have a consultative mentality that puts the borrower first.”

Prior to joining Benchmark, Leisey had worked in both the finance and real estate industries, and said what drew her to the company was Almquist’s reputation coupled with the culture and process that Benchmark offered. “We’re always striving to get to the ‘yes’ for our clients, which means we have to think big and think differently. We like to paint a whole picture that tells an entire story and then decide how to make it work.” It might seem like a daunting task, but she said the reward is building that lasting relationship. “I love to connect with people and help them achieve their personal goals. We provide a certainty that others can’t: we guarantee we can close their loan and close it on time. What I love most is seeing their smiles at the closing table.”

Benchmark’s core values are displayed vividly across the conference room wall: success, relationship, dynamic, excellence, and positive attitude. These values are evident with each team member, who are proud to be taking their industry to another level. Pierce called it “creating a more defined borrower experience.” And when that is accomplished, that’s when they consider themselves successful. “Once a client realizes we have their best interest at heart, that’s when we build trust,” she explained. “It’s not about trying to get a loan, it’s truly about helping someone.”

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