By Neena Vlamis, President of A and N Mortgage

Forbes magazine is in the business of making lists of the best of everything that the market has to offer including, incidentally, mortgage brokers. This year, the company (in conjunction with Five Star Professional) recognized our very own Kiki Calumet among its top mortgage professionals – a stunning achievement for both Kiki and the entire A and N Mortgage team. 

Kiki Calumet honored as a market leader in Forbes

Image Credit: Five Star Mortgage Awards

Getting a mortgage is a tricky process. Products are complicated, and customers don’t always understand what they’re getting. As with anything financial and mathematical, there’s a steep learning curve. Customers rely on mortgage professionals to let them know what’s going on.

Forbes wants to make sure that people are informed about the financial products that they buy. The economy depends on it. It’s only been a decade since the financial crisis, precipitated in large part by poor mortgage lending practices. The magazine, therefore, has partnered with Five Star Professional to scour cities all over the country for mortgage professionals who offer a level of service that is a cut above the rest. 

Unsurprisingly for those of you who know Kiki personally, she’s on the list, thanks to her unique approach to the mortgage application and approval process. 

Kiki’s Unique Approach To The Mortgage Application Process

Kiki wasn’t always in the mortgage business. She started her career as a school teacher, only later realizing that she could use her educational prowess in the mortgage industry. Kiki’s approach to helping clients with their mortgages is unique. She doesn’t just spam them with a bunch of glossy marketing materials but takes the time to educate them thoroughly about their options.

Kiki Calumet - Ex. Vice President

Kiki Calumet – Executive Vice President, A&N

Kiki believes that the mortgage process should be stress-free, and she’s spent the last nineteen years of her career as a mortgage advisor aiming for that goal. 

On day one, she explains the process to her clients, what they can expect, and how it works. She goes through all the paperwork requirements and sets the proper expectations. She’s always down to Earth in her approach and hates marketing speak or spin. 

Once she has all of the customer’s information, she works with them to find any potential issues that may get in the way of obtaining a mortgage. Not all clients have the financial strength to do so. Kiki helps clients work out where they’re strong and where they need to improve for the bank to grant the loan. Throughout the whole process, Kiki focuses on making sure that there are no surprises. For her, customer wellbeing is the priority. 

Kiki believes that communication should be at the center of the relationship between mortgage professionals and their clients. She adopts a laid-back approach. It’s not about “making a sale” or “getting a new customer.” For her, it’s about developing a relationship with clients naturally. Nobody is under any pressure or expected to do anything. Kiki’s clients always feel at ease around her and trust her with intimate financial details. Is it any wonder that Forbes decided to include her on their list? 

Training And Qualifications

Today, Kiki Calumet is a top mortgage lender in Chicago, as well as Park Ridge, Illinois, Northbrook, Niles, and Skokie. She is currently the Executive Vice President at A and N Mortgage and has more than eighteen years in the industry. She has a B of A in Education from DePaul University, earned in 1995, and a masters in education from National-Louis University.  She is licensed to work in FL, IL, IN, IA, MA, MI, TX and WI. 

 IL  professional certifications include NMLS 185931; MA, MI, WI and TX, IL 31.0001341, IN 12386, FL LO6521, IA 22717. 

Her Awards And Distinctions

The Forbes Real Estate and Mortgage Market Leaders award isn’t the only accolade to Kiki’s name. Previously, she won the 2011-2018 Five Star Mortgage Professional Award in Chicago Magazine and was mentioned in Who’s Who 2013 and 2014. She also made the cover of Chicago Agent Magazine in January 2011 and was in the Top 1% of Mortgage Originators in America.

The Five Star Professional is a national organization which scours the US looking for people who show all of the hallmarks of professional excellence and offer quality services to their clients. It is currently the largest and most widely published award for people in the industry, covering most of North America. The organization is wholly independent of people in the market: nobody pays a fee to be on the list. It’s a genuine reflection of individual talent. 

The Driving Forces Behind Kiki’s Success

The reason for Kiki’s reputation as a top mortgage lender and a trusted mortgage broker in Park Ridge, Northbrook and Skokie is her matter-of-fact approach to mortgage applications and her adaptability. 

In the past, all a mortgage lender needed to do was gather a few bits of information about their client and check their credit history. Today, however, that’s all changed. Approval is much more difficult and time-consuming. 

Kiki has seen her role change. It’s way more important these days to construct a full application. Practically anything can come up during the application process, which is why pre-approval is so crucial. With pre-approval, Kiki helps her clients avoid issues during the remainder of the mortgage application process. 

“In the mortgage industry, I find it is important to be flexible,” Kiki stated in a recent interview. “You need to adapt to changing circumstances. We continue to be in a strong refinance market, but it is equally important for me to stay connected with the purchase market during this time. Both types of clients have much to gain from the lower interest rates.”  

Kiki also places a big emphasis on the role of her entire team in the success she and her company has enjoyed. It’s vital, she says, to have a great team behind you. You need excellent support staff to ensure that you’re not missing out on any details that could improve the client experience. Kiki’s team allows her to focus on customers while knowing that she has support for various tasks, should she need it. 

Kiki’s guiding mantra is about finding the right program for her customers’ needs. She knows that the central issue in the mortgage business is the problem of the unforeseen “surprise” – usually a negative experience. People don’t want to go through hours of form-filling, only to find out that their mortgage application is unsuccessful. They want to know what’s going on and don’t want any guesswork. 

Excellent customer service is only a small part of the puzzle for Kiki and her team. The bigger picture is to ensure that customers do not experience the unexpected. It’s about keeping clients informed so that they get the professional and emotional support they need through a tricky financial process.

Being a teacher also helped Kiki enormously. She knows that the way things work isn’t always evident to the people buying them. She uses her unique teaching approach to educate her customers as she did her students. This tactic enables them to see the consequences of the decisions they make. It’s this provision of clarity which makes A and N Mortgage a Forbes mortgage market leader. The company cares whether its clients understand their mortgage products or not and is willing to invest time and effort into each of them. This approach is just what the Chicago home loan market needs. 

Kiki’s Strong Personal Commitment

Testimonials from people who Kiki has helped over the years speak for themselves: 

“We were first time home buyers completing a complicated purchase (a leased multifamily property, which was oversized, and transitioned into a single family home).  We quickly found that we didn’t know what we were taking on. Kiki was utterly patient and highly educational. Kiki called me on her own time, after 5 o’clock, and worked with my extremely busy schedule. Kiki was extremely descriptive about every single item that came up, and did everything possible to help guide me through the process. Through it all, she worked hard to find me the lowest prices and the best rate. Kiki has a lot of connections and does a lot of business that allows her to exploit discounts and group-buy situations that give her access to savings that other professionals in her field don’t have. I felt very good about my experience, learned a lot, and would definitely recommend her to anyone.”

“Kiki was great to deal with, from square one right through the closing. From the first phone call, she told me exactly what I could afford, and shepherded me right through to getting approved. She answered my questions, locked in a solid rate, let me know what was needed and when, and made sure we were ready to close on the date that was good for me. Kiki was especially good when it came to working with the other players involved: the realtors, attorneys, appraiser, insurance agent, closing department and title company. They all made a great team, and she was at the heart of it. I would recommend Kiki to anyone.”

 

Conclusion

Becoming a top-rated mortgage broker in Chicago is not easy, but through years of hard work and passion, Kiki Calumet has done it. Getting onto the Forbes list in 2019 was a remarkable achievement and came entirely from the experience of Kiki’s customers. 

Five Star Professional researches the experience of home buyers every year, asking them about their interactions with their mortgage broker via telephone and online surveys. Respondents rate their overall experience, the knowledge of the mortgage professional, and if they would recommend their broker to a friend.

The agency then collects all of this information and analyzes it, looking out for star performers who consistently rank high among customers. Five Star Professional says that it never includes more than seven percent of all the agents in the market on its list, ensuring that those who do appear stand head and shoulders above the rest. 

Making the list, therefore, is a challenge and something that only a tiny fraction of Chicago mortgage professionals do. This year, there were just seven professionals included on the list in a city which employs thousands in the industry.

Kiki’s success is a reflection of the supportive team of people around her. Without their help, she would not have been able to put her philosophy into action. The company’s success is as much about the driving force that Kiki brings as it is about the people that she relies on to offer excellent advice. Ultimately, the honor is shared among all of the people who work at A and N Mortgage

Finding a quality mortgage banker in Chicago wasn’t always easy. But with the information provided by Five Star Professional and others, it’s more accessible than ever before. How will customers react to these new measures of individual performance in the industry? Positively, we imagine. 

 

A and N Mortgage Services Inc, a mortgage banker in Chicago, IL provides you with high-quality home loan programs, including FHA home loans, tailored to fit your unique situation with some of the most competitive rates in the nation. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, relocating to a new job, or buying an investment property, our expert team will help you use your new mortgage as a smart financial tool.

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