First United Bank Employees Graduate From Banking School

Left to Right: Colleen Anderson (Michigan branch), Amber Skorheim (Adams branch) and Ben Hagl (Fargo branch)

Colleen Anderson, Amber Skorheim and Ben Hagl with First United Bank recently graduated from the Dakota School of Banking sponsored by the North Dakota Bankers Association (NDBA) and endorsed by the South Dakota Bankers Association (SDBA). In its 49th year, the school trained 65 bank personnel. The school was held at the University of Jamestown in Jamestown, North Dakota.

“The Dakota School of Banking provides focused education for bankers looking to enhance their skill set and advance their careers,” said Dorothy Lick, NDBA senior vice president of education. “Each banker gets a well-rounded educational experience, develops banking skills, and creates a valuable network of peers.”

DSB students are enrolled for two years, attending the school one week each summer. The first-year session provides an overview of the banking industry and the departments that make up a bank. The second-year session builds on the banking knowledge gained in the first year and adds a computerized bank management simulation to reinforce technical and functional management skills.

“The Dakota School of Banking is a great experience for our employees. It provides many learning opportunities as well as networking with colleagues,” said Steve Rehovsky, CEO of First United Bank.

Teachers at the school include bankers, attorneys, accountants and financial industry consultants. Sessions combined lecture, hands-on activities, a computerized banking simulation and testing.

First United Bank Named One Of The Top 100 Community Banks

First United Bank has been included in the 2022 Best Performing Community Banks report which was released by S&P Global Market Intelligence, according to Steve Rehovsky, CEO of First United Bank.

S&P Global Market Intelligence launched these rankings in 2011 to assess the performance of community banks and credit unions. The division ranks institutions based on returns, growth and efficiency but places a premium on the strength and risk profile of balance sheets.

In the Midwest Region category of Best Performing Community Banks with assets under $10 Billion, First United Bank was ranked 16th out of 1,848 banks. Nationally, in the category of Best Performing Community Banks with under $3 Billion in assets, First United Bank ranked 85th out of 3,782 banks.

“We are extremely pleased with these reports. As a community bank, we strive not only to provide the best service possible but to operate efficiently as well. Our customers can feel confident knowing they are banking with a company that is performing at a high level,” stated Rehovsky. “These reports are also a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the great employees that work at First United Bank.”

First United Bank, founded in 1885, has assets totaling over $675 million and offers full-service banking along with Trust and Insurance services. The bank has a long history in northeast North Dakota including locations in Park River, Adams, Michigan, Petersburg, Grafton, Hoople, Crystal, Aneta, Sharon, Cooperstown, Devils Lake, Cando, Cavalier, Fargo, Maddock and Rugby.

Ramsey National Bank Has Joined The First United Bank Family

First United Bank of Park River is pleased to announce the merger of Ramsey National Bank and First United Bank effective September 12, 2022. First Holding Company, which is the parent company of First United Bank, purchased Ramsey National Bank in January of 2021. Now with the completion of the merger, the most significant change customers will notice is the changing of the name from Ramsey National Bank to First United Bank.

“This is an exciting time for First United Bank!” stated Steve Rehovsky, President of First United Bank. “We are bringing together two high-performing banks with very similar and strong cultures and business models. As a combined bank with assets in excess of $600 million, we will be even stronger and will be able to provide a larger scale of products and services to our customers.”

“Ramsey is very pleased to join an organization that is so similar to ours and where customer service will remain a top priority,” stated Scott Thompson, President – Devils Lake and Chief Credit Offer.

First United Bank is committed to serving agriculture and small business as well as helping individuals in the communities they serve with local decision making as a priority. “Customers will continue to receive personalized customer service from the same friendly staff at all our locations,” stated Rehovsky. “First United Bank will also continue the Ramsey tradition of being great community partners and supporting local events.”

First United Bank, founded in 1885 with headquarters in Park River, ND, is a strong financial institution with a long history in northeast North Dakota including locations in Park River, Adams, Michigan, Petersburg, Grafton, Hoople, Crystal, Aneta, Sharon and Cooperstown. The Ramsey locations of Devils Lake, Cando, Cavalier, Fargo, Maddock and Rugby will only enhance First United Bank’s footprint.

The combined bank’s Board of Directors will include: Steve Rehovsky, Scott Thompson, Doug Mohr, Sarah Burdick, R. Craig Dahl, Jim Vasichek, Donald Oppegard, Terry Kinneberg and Scott Hills.

How To Ensure Your Mortgage Is The Right Length (Even If You’ve Had It For Years)

Owning a home has always been the American dream, and for most of us, that house comes with a lawn, a garage and a mortgage payment. Smart homeowners consider their mortgage loan carefully, since it will likely be part of their monthly budget for a really long time.

One of the most important things to look at when purchasing a home is the length of the loan. How much are you comfortable paying each month? What are your future plans? Retirement may be closer than you think, especially if you are considering a mortgage payment that will be with you for the next 30 years. These are all factors to consider as you choose the right mortgage loan for your lifestyle.

Fortunately, a home loan is seldom a one-size-fits-all proposition. Instead, a good mortgage lender will work with you to put together a loan that best fits your current budget, your future plans and your individual approach toward debt. At First United Bank, for example, lenders get to know each homeowner personally so that they can tailor a mortgage to their unique needs.

Here are a few things to consider about the length of your mortgage as you start putting one together.

(1) Choose The Right Length

The most common home loan length in the United States is 30 years, and that’s mainly because young homeowners decide that they can’t afford the higher monthly payments that come with a 15-year mortgage (the second most popular length). In general, personal finance experts suggest that you look at a 15-year term first. If you can make the payments, you will save a lot of money on interest as you buy your home. However, if you decide that a 15-year loan is simply not in your budget, then a 30-year term is a great option. However, did you know that technically you can customize the term of your mortgage loan to almost any length? If a 20-year loan makes more sense for your situation, then explore it with your lender. Is it possible to pay off your house in 10 years? Then why take a longer loan? It’s your mortgage, and a good lender will build it to maximize your resources.

(2) Make Bi-weekly Payments

Sometimes reducing the length of your loan is as simple as adjusting how you pay on it. Just because you have a 30-year loan doesn’t mean that you need to take 30 years to pay it off. A recent trend has borrowers making bi-weekly payments rather than monthly ones. This schedule comes with two advantages. First, it’s easy to get the hang of smaller, more manageable payments, and second, you pay your loan off faster. How? Let’s look at a bi-weekly schedule. Rather than making a full payment each month (which would be the equivalent of 24 half payments), you will make 26 half-payments a year. Those two extra half-payments essentially mean that you are making 13 monthly payments a year rather than 12, and because that extra money almost always goes against your principal (the money you owe before interest), it can take years off of the term of your loan.

(3) Make Extra Payments

If you can’t swing bi-weekly payments, you can always just save up during the year and make one extra payment at the end. Of course this plan comes with the temptation to spend that money rather than saving it, but some people thrive with this more flexible system. For example, let’s say that your employer gives you a substantial bonus at the end of the year. That makes it the perfect time to put some extra money toward your mortgage. Each time you do so, you reduce the length of your loan (sometimes significantly), and that’s a bonus in and of itself.

Don’t settle for a mortgage that’s longer or shorter than you need. Choose an innovative lender like First United Bank and collaborate with them on a loan that’s just the right length for you and your budget.

Understanding The ABCs Of Home Loan Acronyms

Buying a house is an exciting proposition. You look for the right neighborhood, you think about the best layout for your family and you envision how you will put your own touch on your new home’s style. There’s a special joy to be found in planning for a new house, whether you are a first-time homebuyer, an experienced homeowner or even an intrepid soul looking to build your dream home. Every move feels like a fresh start, filled with promise and potential.

Of course, there may be challenges to overcome as well. One of the advantages of working with a bank that puts your needs first is that you can relax and stay focused on the more engaging parts of the home-buying process, while your lender concentrates on putting together the very best mortgage for your budget. Choosing your new home is much more enjoyable when a trustworthy banker has your back.

However, it’s still important to understand the basics of the mortgage process to ensure that there are no surprises when it comes to your home loan. Not only are there quite a few documents to sign when you close, the entire mortgage process has evolved to include its own set of shorthand – home lending-specific acronyms that might sound like a foreign language if you don’t hear them very often. With the right bank, you don’t have to worry about all of the details, but it’s still nice to know what everybody is talking about! Here are five of the most common mortgage-related acronyms and their meanings:

(1) ARM

This stands for Adjustable Rate Mortgage. In general, this indicates a loan that has you pay a fixed interest rate for a certain amount of time, then “adjusts” based on several economic factors. That means the interest you pay may go up, and it may go down. These mortgages will normally be adjusted once or twice a year from then on, and depending on the terms of your loan, there can be limits on just how much your interest rate can rise or fall. The alternative to an ARM is an FRM, or Fixed Rate Mortgage.

(2) PITI

Sometimes pronounced like the word “pity,” this is an acronym for Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance. It’s a way of saying “everything you will owe to own your home” rather than simply considering the mortgage payment. This can help you to more accurately determine what you will pay out each month, and as you make decisions about your budget, it can be a very important number to consider. When comparing financing options, make sure to compare apples to apples. Do both options include all of the PITI elements? Working with an experienced lender like those at First United Bank can make this easier. They can simplify and clarify your options.

(3) DTI

A Debt-To-Income ratio is an important factor that banks use to determine how much you can borrow and how much you can afford to pay each month. In most cases, it is calculated by taking all of your monthly debt payments together and dividing that by your gross monthly income (income before taxes and other deductions). Nobody wants to commit to a mortgage that they can’t afford, and this formula helps lenders and borrowers to find a loan that fits.

(4) PMI

These three letters stand for Private Mortgage Insurance. This policy is paid for by the borrower if they make a down payment of less than 20 percent on a home purchase (or if a homeowner doesn’t have 20 percent in equity for a refinance). It protects the lender in the event of a default, and its cost is often built into the mortgage’s monthly payment. Because PMI is based on a percentage of the loan amount, the larger the loan value, the more PMI will cost. Lenders like those at First United Bank understand all about PMI, and they make the process very easy to understand.

(5) LE / CD

LE stands for Loan Estimate. It is a three-page form that you get once you apply for a loan. It breaks down some of the important details of the proposed mortgage, including monthly payments and closing costs, as well as information about taxes and insurance. Near the end of the process you will receive a CD, or Closing Disclosure. This five-page document includes the loan terms, projected monthly payments, and information about fees and other costs. Comparing your CD with your LE is a fairly simple way to see if anything has changed during the process of preparing your mortgage.

If any of this sounds confusing, don’t worry. The most important part of a good mortgage isn’t learning about all of the jargon, it’s choosing the right bank. When you work with First United Bank, for example, your lender will work hard to make everything simple, freeing you up to think less about your mortgage and more about your new home. If you’d like to learn more, stop into your local First United Bank today and find out just how easy it can be to purchase the right home for you.

5 Unique Considerations When Buying A House In North Dakota

North Dakota is a wonderful state in which to live. It has four distinct seasons, low traffic and crime and plenty of room to find your place. It is also unlike almost anyplace in the United States when it comes to shopping for a house. You will have all of the typical considerations (price, location, construction, taxes, etc.), but also a few that are unique to a state where the earth is flat and the winters can be long. If you’re looking to buy a house in North Dakota – or even if you’re a long-time resident who is curious about what sets the state apart – read on. You’ll find five unique things to take into consideration when you look for a house in North Dakota.

One: How Are You Going To Clear The Driveway?

If you live in North Dakota or plan to move here, you already know that the state gets a lot of snow (three feet a year in the northeastern part of the state). But did you know that snow doesn’t pile up the same in all driveways? Not only should you consider how long your driveway is, but also which direction it faces and what obstructions are in place that will result in drifts. A lot of the wind in North Dakota blizzards comes from the north and northwest, so it’s somewhat predictable (though never guaranteed) where snow will accumulate.

If your neighbors are close by, it’s also helpful to know where they put snow in the winter (something you won’t be able to ascertain if you purchase your house in a warmer month, obviously). If you and your neighbors don’t work together, some blizzards can be extra frustrating as you move snow, then have to move it again when it blows onto your property as your neighbors clear their own driveways and sidewalks.

“I think people are surprised that everybody’s driveway seems to collect snow a little differently,” says Missy Moen, a home lender at First United Bank in Park River, North Dakota. “Sometimes it takes a little getting used to.”

Does this mean you shouldn’t buy a house if the driveway fills up with snow? Of course not – in North Dakota every driveway fills up with snow – but it can give you a head start on keeping your garage or parking spaces accessible when things get blustery.

Two: What Direction Do The Windows Face?

This seems like an important question for homebuyers in any state, but North Dakota’s geography is unique because there is often nothing – literally nothing – to stop the sun from shining into your house. Without mountains, hills or skyscrapers, North Dakota horizons are wide open. This is mostly a pleasant phenomenon, as rooms are gently heated by the sun, even in the winter. However, during certain times of year, dawn and sunset can result in an intense light show that causes drivers to reach for their sunglasses (and occasionally even pull over to the side of the road) and homeowners to use window coverings to prevent the sun from blinding occupants.

This consideration is less about whether or not to buy a house and more about how you should plan for window coverings. Depending on the orientation of the house (along with trees, neighboring houses, etc.), you may find that you need blinds on some windows and drapes on others, for example.

Three: Does The Basement Or Yard Flood In The Spring?

In a state as flat as North Dakota, flooding is a challenge almost every year. Not only do rivers spill out of their banks, excess moisture can result in overland flooding, a phenomenon in which water simply moves across the prairie. Without natural differences in elevation, humans often have to manage drainage themselves. This also goes for the water table, a serious consideration for anybody with a basement. While these subterranean living areas provide an important addition to a home’s living space, they can leak in the spring when the ground thaws. Knowing the flooding history of the property – particularly the basement – is an important part of any buying decision in Midwest, especially North Dakota.

You can overcome flooding with projects like drain tile and sump pumps, but anyone that plans to live with water issues should go into the deal with their eyes wide open. Spring in North Dakota is a wonderful season, but the potential for flooding is often an underlying theme.

“Talk to your realtor and your banker about the possibility of flooding,” suggests Moen. “It’s good to have as much information as possible, and they can often point you in the right direction for insurance and other steps that can make it a lot easier to live with water in North Dakota.”

Four: Are There Large Trees Near The House?

This is one of the windiest states in the country, and while it may be wonderful to have a large shade tree in your yard, you should also be aware of its branches and where they may end up in a windstorm (or, rarely, a tornado). After a powerful wind in North Dakota, it’s a common sight to see fences blown over, shingles blown off and trees damaged.

Homeowners manage this risk by trimming branches so that they won’t fall directly on the house (or on vehicles). Trees are a big attraction in the Upper Midwest for good reason: they provide a welcome break from the sun, the flat terrain and, ironically, the wind. However, they need to be planted and cared for properly so that these benefits can be enjoyed even when the wind picks up speed.

Five: What Shape Is The Concrete In?

North Dakotans have a close relationship with the freeze / thaw cycle of the earth. Road construction is a constant challenge because concrete and pavement crack due to the heaving and retreating soil (thanks to the water in the ground expanding as ice, then thawing). A new sidewalk in North Dakota will often crack after a single winter, and driveways that are only a few years old feature long, feathery breaks that seem to grow each year. It is simply part of life in the Northland.

Although there is little you can do to avoid or fix cracks in concrete, the shape of the sidewalk and driveway may be a consideration simply because they are often overlooked. In other words, if there is a crack in your concrete, it is only getting larger. Psychologically, it might be helpful to deal with that inevitability before settling on a house (or its price).

A Great Place To Call Home

Despite these unique factors, North Dakota is one of the country’s best places to purchase a home. “It’s already a fantastic place to raise a family,” Moen says. “You just need a mortgage that fits your lifestyle. Start by choosing a bank that understands the best ways to make this feel like home. First United Bank, for example, has been helping North Dakotans to buy houses for as long as there have been houses in North Dakota.”

Interested in finding a new home on the great plains? Contact First United Bank and get pre-approved today. You’ll have one less thing to think about as you consider the exciting possibilities of living in North Dakota.

How Much House Is Too Much House: Effectively Choosing A House Within Your Means

Purchasing a house is an exciting time in anyone’s life, and it’s especially so for the first-time homebuyer. Everyone has their own idea of their “dream home.” However, this vision seldom includes the financial responsibilities that come with owning such a house. The first few days after a new buyer enters the housing market is usually when reality truly kicks in. They realize that a big house in a new neighborhood comes with big responsibilities, including a mortgage.

Whether you’re buying for the first time or just moving to the other end of town, there are many factors to consider when purchasing a home. It’s understandable to want to move into the house of your dreams right away, but it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself some questions: Will I be able to afford the mortgage payment with my current income? If so, will I be able to save enough for retirement? Will I still have the resources to go out to eat or on vacation once in a while? Unfortunately, homebuyers don’t always ask themselves these questions, and their dream house becomes more of a financial burden than an asset.

Fortunately, a good mortgage lender can help to answer the critical financial questions associated with searching for a new home before you even begin the process. In northeastern North Dakota, for example, lenders at First United Bank take extra time to sit down with potential homebuyers to determine an affordable price range based on their unique lifestyles.

Determining A Budget

Even if you are a seasoned homeowner, yearly income plays a large role in the size of house you are able to buy. For example, a young professional might be able to afford a larger mortgage than an older, more experienced worker who earns less each month. It all depends on your personal situation. While choosing which price range is best, it’s also important to consider the debts you already have, including student loans, car payments, credit card payments, child support, etc. Don’t forget that you also need to put something aside for retirement. Lenders take all these factors into consideration when determining the size of a home loan that you are qualified for.

Purchasing Within Your Means

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to buy at the top of your projected budget. Even if purchasing at the top end of your budget allows you to obtain the home of your dreams, is it the right time to do so? It wouldn’t be much fun to have the house of your dreams without the finances to leave it for a weekend. For example, purposely spending 25% less than your maximum budget can provide you with extra financial freedom and peace of mind in the long run. Plus, it can allow you to set more money aside for things like retirement or your children’s education.

Choosing The Right Mortgage

Once you decide to purchase a home, it’s also time to consider the mortgage loan itself. In the United States, the two most common mortgage lengths are 15 years and 30 years. Financial experts often suggest a 15-year term when it is possible, but for many homebuyers, the higher payments (you are paying the loan off faster) are just not an option. This is especially true if the house you are looking to buy is at the high end of your budget. If you are in that position, ask yourself this: would you rather have the largest house possible and pay it off in 30 years or a more modest option and pay it off in 15?

“Decisions are so much easier to make when you find a lender who really understands your situation,” says Melissa Moen of First United Bank. “They’ll work with you to put together a mortgage loan that best fits your current budget, your future plans and your personal approach toward debt.”

Don’t jump into the housing market with a blindfold on. Choose a reputable institution like First United Bank. They will provide a clear vision of the housing market and personally work with you to determine a smart and financially sensible price range.

Mobile Deposits

Mobile Deposit is now available for all current touch banking users. There is no need to sign up as we have made it available for everyone due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation. If you are not a touch banking user, you may easily sign up online at any time. (Just head to the top of the page and hit enroll now!)

For full instructions on mobile deposits, please look on our web page under Mobile Banking under the Personal section.
Please note, proper endorsement of the check including “for mobile deposit only” is critical, otherwise the deposit will be rejected. Please do not hesitate to call with any questions.

Avoid Phishing Attacks

Early indications are that fraudsters may be increasing phishing attacks in an effort to exploit the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Risk Office has observed fraudster emails and voice mails sent directly to cardholders asking for personally identifiable information (PII) and impersonating the financial institution (FI), health groups, and federal government agencies.

Additionally, criminals in possession of card details and other forms of PII are spoofing the phone number from financial institutions to fool cardholders into thinking that text messages and phone calls are actually from the fraud department of their financial institution.

It makes a difference when cardholders remain vigilant. If something sounds suspicious, question it. As a reminder, it’s important that you remain diligent in reviewing your accounts daily and quickly reporting any unauthorized activity.

There is a lot that you can do to protect your own financial accounts and information in order to avoid being compromised. Here is some important information for you to remember:

  • Neither First United Bank nor the fraud department will ever ask you over the phone for your PIN, CV2 codes or Expiration Dates.
  • A text alert warning of suspicious activity on a card will NEVER include:
    • A link to be clicked. Cardholders should never click on a link in a text message that is supposedly from us.
    • Vague reference to a “Merchant” transaction; details should be included.
    • Requests for cardholder data such as card numbers, PINs, CV2 Codes, Expiration Date.
  • A text alert from us will always be from a 5-digit number and NOT a 10-digit number resembling a phone number.
    • A valid notification will provide information about the suspect transaction and ask you to reply to the text message with answers such as ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘help’, or ‘stop’.
    • A text caller ID will be 20733 if you use the standard call center, or 37268 if you use the premium call center.
  • A phone call from one of our Call Center agents will only include a request for the cardholder ZIP code, and no other personal information, unless the cardholder confirms that a transaction is fraudulent.
    • Only then will the cardholder be transferred to an agent, who will ask questions to confirm the cardholder’s identity before going through the transaction history. If, at any point the cardholder is uncertain about questions being asked or the call itself, they should hang up and call us directly.
  • If a call is received by the cardholder, claiming to be your Call Center and asking to verify transactions, no information should have to be provided by the cardholder other than their ZIP code, and a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the transactions provided.
Back To Top
Close Menu