Interest Rates

Lower Rates, Not Just a Lower Payment

Ron Culver

Ron Culver, VP, Real Estate Market Manager Bozeman area.

It’s a cycle as predictable as time itself; mortgage rates take a dip and the advertisements touting lower monthly payments for your home loan fill your mailbox/inbox. We find ourselves in the thick of that phenomenon right now as the interest rates for residential mortgage loans are at lows not seen since 2017. And sure, refinancing into a lower rate can lessen your monthly payment compared to what you have today, however opportunity knocks on all kinds of doors when rates take a plunge.

For example, have you considered reducing the term of your loan?

How about getting away from that Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) that may have some impending volatility? Or even using some of the equity in your home to do something to improve your home like a bathroom remodel (who does not stay awake at night dreaming of how much fun that is). The truth is that lower interest rates offer so much more to a homeowner (or potential homeowner) than just a lower payment.

Interest Rates

Let’s take a quick look at the possibilities:

Reducing the term

Most people default to the good ol’ standby of a fixed rate mortgage with a long repayment term. Did you know there are other options available? Fixed rate mortgages are often offered on terms ranging from 10 to 30 years. Loans with shorter terms are within the realm of possibility and all can become more of a reality as rates fall.   Your monthly payment may go up as the principal balance is repaid over a shorter time period, however the amount of interest you pay over the life of a shorter term loan can be drastically less than that of the more traditional long terms options. We can do the math for you, it is compelling. I promise.

Turn your ARM into a fixed rate loan

I’m sure if you have an ARM product, you chose it because of the lower initial interest rate during a predetermined introductory period. Will that rate begin its annual adjustment dance soon? If so, check out fixed rate mortgage loans, they may be cheaper than you think. And best of all, the rate will not change!

Accessing the equity in your home

The possibilities of accessing current equity are almost endless. Chances are, if you’ve been in your home for any length of time, you have some equity built up.

  • How about using it for a trip to Starbucks, in Barcelona?  Americans don’t take vacations like folks in other countries, and as a result, we have the highest stress level of professionals in the world (or so the scientists say).  Taking the family on a vacation is a great way to hit the reset button and enjoy this amazing world we live in.
  • Looking for a nicer/bigger/better home to live in but can’t find anything on the market that suits you?  How about turning your existing home in to your dream home?   Using that equity to remodel is a great way to keep the kids in the same school district and still upgrade to the fully automated home with the “she-shed” out back you’ve been dreaming of.
  • Maybe you have had enough with cold winters and you want a winter get away someplace warm.   Equity in your primary home can be used to purchase a 2nd home where you can play golf 12 months a year.
  • If a vacation home in SoCal isn’t your thing, maybe a piece of land on a river on the other side of the state will be step one of your ideal retirement.

Toxic loan programs

Many fell victim to some less-then-ideal loan programs that were prolific during the years leading up to the great recession. There are still more than $430 billion worth of those nasty loans out there. If you have one of them, it is a great time to take a look at how to kick it to the curb and replace older loans with something more traditional and appealing.

Debt consolidation

Credit card interest rates are horrible. Loans on “toys” can be very high interest. Student loans can be burdensome. Maybe a recent divorce has caused some discomfort that can be paid off. Refinances that put dollars and cents in your bank account can help consolidate debt in to one payment with an interest rate that will most likely be far less than those other consumer type loans.

Lower rates mean more affordability

It’s amazing how much a .25% reduction in a note rate can impact how much home you can qualify for. If you’ve visited with your local lender in the past and found out the monthly payment on that dream home was just a little out of reach, pick up the phone and call again. It’s possible that with a lower rate, the payment on that same dream home may be within reach now.

Payment reduction

Maybe you don’t need to access equity to buy/pay things down. Maybe it’s as simple and wanting to drop your monthly mortgage payment by a decent amount.

The benefits of a lower interest rate environment are nearly endless

Talk with a Stockman banker. Talk with your accountant. Let’s see how this unprecedented rate environment can benefit you and get you on whatever financial path you’d like to be on. Who knows, the next chapter of your financial future may be closer than you think….or maybe it’s waiting outside right now and you just have to open the door and walk outside to make it happen.

Open the door

Bank Disclosures

Casey Moen

The Many Hats of Casey Moen

The Many Hats of Stockman

By Janine Merrill, Marketing Officer

I’m not going to lie, our “Many Hats” blog series has been fun to write! Learning about the many varied talents and passions that our employees have outside of the banking realm is eye opening. And this one is no exception. The only thing is, perhaps it should be changed to “Many Caps” – Golf Caps that is!

Casey Moen

Casey Moen, a Real Estate Loan Officer for our downtown location in Great Falls, is originally from Missoula. Casey caught the golfing bug growing up around the many junior golf programs that Missoula offers. Playing nearly every sport that was available for a kid, he began to mainly focus on golf. At 14, he started working at the King Ranch Golf Course in Frenchtown where he was a jack of all trades – hitting balls, picking them, mowing the course and grounds as well as working in the pro shop.

His love of the game led him to a career in golf, and took him to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He enrolled in their PGA Golf Management Program and had the opportunity to travel across the country to many amazing golf facilities while learning the ins and outs of what makes the PGA tick.

Casey Moen

When did you become a PGA Professional and where and what tournaments have you played?

I received my class A PGA certification in August of 2012. For any PGA Professional, the passion for golf starts with your love for the game and the competition. Many of my successes came through my high school and college years competing in any junior golf event in Montana that I could find. During my time at New Mexico State, I was very fortunate to have a well rounded tournament schedule and abundant sunshine all year to sharpen my game. I won medalist honors at 6 events while at New Mexico State. I also competed in the 2011 Jones Cup in Port St. Lucie, FL which is made up of top players from each PGA Golf Management University.

My greatest experience came in 2019; however I didn’t swing the club one time. I was fortunate to have a very good friend, Matt Lohmeyer, punch his ticket to the 2019 PGA Professional National Championship. I caddied for Matt all four rounds, racking up 80 miles on foot and enjoying a top 40 finish out of 317 competitors. An experience I won’t forget.

Casey Moen

What is your affiliation with the PGA in Montana?

Outside of Stockman Bank, I am heavily involved with the Western Montana PGA as their Tournament Director. In this role, I facilitate and administer 20+ weekly Pro Am’s and Chapter Championship events throughout the golf season. In addition, I maintain and grow WMCPGA sponsorships and partnership as well as head up our charitable arms efforts. This position allows me to be active in the golf community in Western Montana, grow relationships with my fellow PGA Professionals in the region, and most importantly, feed the itch for the golf bug that will gladly never go away!

Casey Moen and his Father-in-law

What brought you back to Montana?

After leaving Montana and experiencing a greater part of the United States, I always knew I would someday make it back to Montana. My wife Natalie, originally from Great Falls, and I had a long term goal of getting closer to family and growing together in the place we know best.

On vacation over the winter in 2018, we had a great conversation regarding our future plans, and where we wanted to settle long term. Clearly, destination Montana started right then. We immediately began planning our move, and it wasn’t 40 days later we were settled in Great Falls. If you’re lucky enough to live in Montana…you’re lucky enough right?

Why a career as a Real Estate Loan Officer?

With a limited number of career golf opportunities, particularly in Montana, I wanted to be open to other careers. I’ve had a number of friends and colleagues transition from golf to roles in the finance industry, particularly Real Estate Lending. I was able to connect with these individuals and look for guidance when making this transition. I was lucky enough not only to find a role that would suit my strengths but find a reputable institution like Stockman Bank!

How do you balance golf, lending and family time?

I am fortunate to be a part of a strong golf family. My wife grew up playing the game and played collegiately as a Lady Griz in Missoula and my father-in-law has been a PGA Professional for nearly 35 years. Although the days can get long juggling multiple tasks and duties, it’s hardly work when you do what you enjoy. From getting families into their first home, organizing next week’s Pro Am, or playing a late 9 holes with my closest friends and family, each day is truly a blessing. And to do all of this under the Big Sky makes it all the more special.

We tip our hat (cap!) to Casey and the Stockman Bank people who wear many hats to make our communities better places to live, work, and play!


Bank Disclosures

Richland County Fair in 1920

History, Heritage and Culture Kept Alive by the MonDak Heritage Center

Luella Schow

Luella Schow
Real Estate Loan Assistant in Sidney

Eastern Montana History

As I was growing up outside of Sidney, Montana, something triggered my interest in my family history. Maybe it was the pictures on the wall at my grandparent’s house. Maybe it was the stories my relatives would tell of people they knew and grew up with or things that they accomplished as paying jobs. One of my grandparents helped build the Fort Peck dam and my dad helped plant trees nearby. Some of those relatives could even describe the dress they wore when a special event happened in their teenage years, including the material color and pattern.

Eventually, my curiosity about my family history grew to include Sidney and Montana history. Maybe it was the M-O-N-T-A-N-A song that I learned while in Elementary School. Maybe it was the trophy case at my high school, full of trophies depicting special events of the past. I wanted to know where my grandparents came from and why they came to Montana.

Richland County Fair in 1920

Richland County Fair in 1920

All these things made a lasting impression in my life, so I decided to write down some of the family and Montana history that I was told.

Horse Racing

Horse Racing

Lover of History to Member of the Board

Simply, I like learning about history – my family’s history, the history of the land and the area. I also believe it’s important to volunteer and be an active part of the community. So, when I was approached to fill a temporary Board position by a person on the Board of Directors for the MonDak Heritage Center in Sidney, my answer was immediately, “yes!” Just as I am recording the history of my family, the MonDak Heritage Center holds and preserves the history of the Sidney area.

Over the years, I had watched this museum grow and evolve and was impressed with the direction the Center was heading. This museum had changed from a place with an old-time main street exhibit with various shops from past years set up in the basement, along with static exhibits on the main level, to a cultural center with history and art exhibits that change several times a year, community meetings, exercise classes and various musical entertainment and free movie events.

Sidney Library

Sidney Library

Engage, Educate, and Inspire

Today, the MonDak Heritage Center is a non-profit organization guided by a mission to: “engage, educate and inspire our community by preserving and contributing to the area’s art, culture and heritage”. In addition to art exhibits and special events, the Center now offers art classes for children and adults, including pottery and other projects. My granddaughter and I have taken several art classes and enjoy them tremendously. It has been fun to see the variety of art classes that are taught and the various projects the artists complete. There are after- school art classes and out- of- town art classes too.

Volunteers Make Up the Fabric of Communities

It takes dedicated people who donate their time and energy to keep a worthwhile project strong and growing. The MonDak Heritage Center hosts several fundraisers a year, including my favorite, “Celebrating Chocolate.” Stockman Bank has been a sponsor of this event for the past 10 years and continues to be involved. Only with volunteers and community involvement from businesses, the MonDak Heritage Center look towards a strong future, as it continues to contribute to the art and culture of the Sidney area and preserve history for future generations.

Front of MonDak Heritage Center

Front of MonDak Heritage Center


Bank Disclosures

Last Will and Testament

PLANNING AHEAD: Where There is a Will…

This is the second posting from Stockman Wealth Management on Estate Planning. Understanding the process and putting a plan together, leads us to the topic of a will.

Estate planning can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

The best place to begin is with a document nearly everyone knows about, even if they don’t have one: a will. Otherwise known as a Last Will and Testament, a will is the central axis around which estate planning revolves.

Last Will and Testament

Your signed will (by you, the testator, and two witnesses) legally states your wishes concerning who receives your personal property and assets as well as who cares for your minor children when you die. In certain states, you do not need a notary public to authenticate your signature, but it can be helpful. For example, in the state of Montana, notarizing your will makes it “self-proving.” This allows the court to accept the will as valid without contacting witnesses, thus speeding up probate.

Also, in Montana the witnesses must sign your will within “a reasonable time” (Mont. Code Ann. § 72-2-522). Perhaps this statute is purposely vague, but it points to the job of the witness. Their job is to actually observe you as testator sign and date your will, and promptly (not six months later) sign and date as witnesses.


David Morgenroth, CFP Missoula

David Morgenroth, CFP Missoula

If your will is not witnessed, but is handwritten, dated and signed by you, it is called a “holographic will.” This is a valid will to varying degrees in 25 states, including Montana. Holographic wills are subject to scrutiny by the courts and contestation by disgruntled heirs, and should be avoided.

You should also avoid dying without a will.

In this circumstance, you are deemed intestate (literally, “one who has not made out a will”), and the state gets to make the decisions regarding your children and property for you.

In our next blog, we will provide a short list of things you should consider when drawing up a will.

If you have any questions, or would like us to address a specific topic, please let us know. Our Stockman Wealth Management CFP® professionals are always available to guide you through the estate planning process.

Wealth Management Disclosures

Adel’s Hot Stuff Espresso

Focus on Small Business – Adel’s Hot Stuff Espresso

Adel’s Hot Stuff EspressoWhat is an entrepreneur? The dictionary defines an entrepreneur as a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

That describes our founder, Bill Nefsy very well. Bill never viewed himself as a banker, but as an entrepreneur and consumer of financial services.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Montana is home to over 120,000 small businesses that employ more than 65% of our private workforce! It’s clear that entrepreneurship and small business is truly the backbone of our state. As a Montana bank focused only on Montana, we are a committed partner in helping our state’s entrepreneurs reach the highest levels of success.

Today, we introduce you to Adel, a young entrepreneur from Missoula. She is an inspiration and we are proud to be a part of her story.

Adel’s Hot Stuff Espresso


Bank Disclosures