Meet Grace Nichols
As a mother of three young children, Grace Nichols has to set boundaries when it comes to work. At the same time, she wants her kids to understand consistent, efficient work has an impact on reputation and integrity. So every day, she carefully balances her family and work life.
It’s with that sense of balance in mind that Grace recently joined the INB team as a mortgage lender in Bloomington-Normal.
She learned from her friend, Bloomington Branch Manager Andi Whalen, that the INB culture allows for family and work life balance. She highlights the work environment and exceptional employee support. “This is a high priority for me as I believe quality of life strongly contributes to satisfactory work and home experience.”
Grace, who’s been a mortgage lender since 2019, was also looking for a company that would provide her clients access to more products and better-quality services than accessible with her previous employer. She truly appreciates the fact that INB provides service to almost all mortgage customers instead of outsourcing the work to another organization.
For someone like Grace, the fact that her customers will call her with questions long after the closing, means everything. She says she finds satisfaction in providing service and a mortgage loan experience that not every company commits to providing. “It is the personal touch, follow-up and consistent communication that makes you a partner in the process and not just a passive financing agent.”
Financial Education Part of the Loan Process
Grace’s work sometimes starts years before someone is ready for a mortgage loan. In 2015, she was providing direct lending support for auto loans. While doing this, she found she was working with people on financial literacy and credit repair.
She says, “The first thing you learn in working with borrowers is listening and investing in their goals. First and foremost, you are a resource in helping them achieve this list of dreams. The top item that I was hearing was, ‘I want to buy a home for my: children, new marriage, saying good-bye to the monthly rent, etc.’” Then and there, she began helping people who wanted to purchase a home but were afraid of the process.
With that, she soon became a resource for people before they completed a mortgage loan application.
She began working with a mortgage loan officer, ensuring that the boxes were checked before an application moved over for processing. “When you start at the beginning stages, you truly build the framework and emotional investment in each transaction. The borrower's dreams become your dream, and as they grow excited for the process and potential purchase... SO DO YOU! Within a year, my heart was destined for the mortgage industry.” At that point, she began working on her NMLS certification.
Personal Touch, Follow-up and Consistency
Since then, she’s found a lot of satisfaction in her profession. She says she can point to countless days filled with pride for the service she’s providing. For example, she helped with a mortgage loan during the refinance of a construction loan. “It was a messy loan structure with the current lender . . . the current loan had a prepayment penalty, etc. All the things that you think, based on compliance, wouldn't be possible on a mortgage. Once we closed the loan together, I returned to my desk to flowers and a thank you card.”
One year in to her experience as a mortgage lender, COVID changed everything. She admits she was still a bit “green” when business picked up exponentially. She adds, “I recently received the compliment that despite being new, I never shied away from the challenge; however, the market we are in currently is my main experience in mortgage lending. I have learned to adapt to a consistently fast-paced work environment and performing well under pressure.”
No matter the pressure on the front end, Grace says her main satisfaction comes from providing a service and experience that not all loan officers strive for, “Signing the thank you card at the end of our experience and recapping the benefits that each individual holds at the closing is the moment of gratitude that makes my job worth doing.”
Grace’s NMLS# is 1886626.