Border Bank: A Friend to Homeowners

An Inside-Lookat Border Bank’s New Construction Mortgage Process and Client Experience.

Meet Kelly Engstrom and Nicole Hjelden of Border Bank’s Mortgage Department


I graduated from North Dakota State University with a Business Administration and Family Science/Child Development degree. At graduation time I didn’t know my path would lead me to banking, but it was a way to blend my two degrees. I have been in banking for over 30 years, working mainly in consumer lending; and with the recent merger, I switched solely to real estate lending. I always enjoy getting to know people, listening to their personal situations and trying to find a way to improve their financial or personal situations.


I graduated from Mayville State University with a Business Administration degree with specializations in finance, management, marketing and real estate, which are all areas I knew would help me in the banking industry. I have been in banking for over 15 years, now working specifically on real estate loans for over the last 10 years. My love of real estate started when I was young because my parents would always flip the houses we lived in. I lived in five different homes, plus one lake home, growing up while we were remodeling them, so we were constantly in a construction zone!

What does Border Bank’s mortgage department offer that homeowners may be unaware of?

Border Bank offers everything from lot loans to construction loans—to 30-year fixed-rate financing. We can finance your primary residence, second home, or even an investment property. Since we are a smaller community bank, we can make the time to focus on the customer experience. Communication is very important, making sure we are educating our clients, keeping them informed and always responding in a timely manner when our customers reach out to us with questions.

What are some critical aspects of working with a home builder that your team and Border Bank as a whole excel in?

We communicate with the builder just as much as the client does to keep everyone on the same page as the project is getting completed. The builders will issue the bank a construction estimate which breaks down the cost of supplies and labor; the bank will use those estimates to compare to the invoices they provide during the disbursement phase. This helps keep everyone organized and to show if there are differences in the cost to get further explanation from the builder. We want to keep as much communication between the builder and the bank so that there are no surprises at the end and funds come up short. We have had builders come to our office and visit with us and the client prior to the project starting; we have communicated through email and phone with builders anytime they have questions about the project or disbursements. We always want to stay in contact with all parties involved so the project runs smoothly and the homeowner is happy and satisfied when all is completed.

How can a homeowner prepare for a construction project? What tidbits will help make the whole journey more painless?

When we begin the discussions of a construction loan with clients, there are a few items we have them provide and cover:

  • Plans and drawings of the home
  • Construction estimate from the builder – this will give the breakdown of the cost of the home.
  • Proof of down payment (20% is required)
  • Proof of overage funds (construction costs can increase with any changes, we want to know if the client has funds to draw from if needed)
  • Run tax estimates with specials so the client understands what their total annual tax payment could be once the home is constructed.
  • Run payment estimates with different terms (15 or 30 yr) to see which payment is comfortable for the client.

Walk me through the construction process with a client, how does it work?

Once the construction loan has been approved and signed by the client, the building project can begin. The builder will issue invoices to the client and the bank usually in phases of the building project. Once the client approves all the invoices, the bank will issue a cashier’s check to the builder for the amount invoiced. The bank will do an inspection of the project once that phase is completed before issuing funds for the next phase. The customer will pay interest only each month on the amount advanced on the construction line. If the client chooses to make some changes or upgrades during the building process, the builder will issue a change order and have that approved by the client and the bank to make sure there are enough funds to cover those changes. When the home is completed, we meet with our customer to start the process of rolling the construction loan into permanent financing.

Why is Border Bank the right choice for F/M homeowners?

If you want to feel like you have a relationship with your banker, Border Bank is the right place to go. We really strive to stand out by our great customer support! We also have numerous products to help fit our clients’ needs and even offer local servicing so you can contact us anytime you have a question. Border Bank also has some great consumer and commercial banking products as well so we can help our clients with all their banking needs.

How does Border Bank (and the mortgage team) cultivate strong relationships, go above and beyond, as well as create loyalty with customers?

We run our business as a team to make sure there is always someone available for our customers to get a hold of. We consistently strive to go above and beyond for our customers, and if that means responding to an email at night or on a weekend, we will make it happen. Typically, real estate transactions are one of the biggest investments in a person’s life and we want to make sure they know how important it is to us that we help them get though the process—from beginning to end—as smoothly as possible.

Client Testimonial

“I’m not sure the process could have been easier for me, first with the construction loan and then converting to permanent financing with Border Bank this last year. I have purchased about 20 homes in my lifetime and this was the easiest process I’ve gone through. Doing both loans at Border Bank saved me thousands of dollars in fees. I felt like both Nicole and Kelly knew me, and my schedule and saved me a lot of time Thank you Border Bank!”

-Darrell Hansen, Satisfied Border Bank Customer

Border Bank

Two Locations, Same Great Service:

4530 17th Ave S Fargo, ND 58103

3203 32nd Ave S Fargo, ND 58103

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Facebook: /BorderBanks
Twitter: @BorderBanks


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