Katie Behrendt • WNB Financial

Building Relationships

WNB Financial mortgage officer Katie Behrendt takes the time to know her clients.

From the start of your house hunt to when you sign on the dotted line at your closing, Katie Behrendt wants to be your mortgage professional.

“Everybody comes to the table with something different,” said Behrendt, a mortgage loan officer at WNB Financial. “It’s not cookie cutter, and that’s part of what I love to do: Finding out what fits best for each and every person that comes through the door.”

Behrendt, a native of the Chippewa Valley, is a graduate of North High School and UW-Eau Claire, where she received a degree in finance. She’s spent her career working in lending for local financial institutions, and joined the WNB team about a year ago.

“Mortgage work has definitely been something that’s stuck with me: being able to sit down with customers, work with them from pre-approvals to the excitement of getting an offer to purchase, and getting them into their home,” Behrendt said.

WNB Financial

1160 Blazing Star Blvd.,

(715) 598-7741

KatieB@WNBFinancial.com(KatieB (at) WNBFinancial [d0t] com,)


Behrendt works at WNB Financial’s office in Altoona’s River Prairie, a centrally located spot for customers from around the Chippewa Valley. WNB Financial first arrived in the Chippewa Valley in 2017 and opened its full-service office in Altoona two years later. However, the bank has Midwest roots that go back all the way to 1874 in Winona, Minnesota. It now has branches in Winona, Kellogg, and Wabasha, Minnesota, as well as Holmen and Altoona, Wisconsin.

Behrendt said being a community bank is an advantage for WNB Financial.

“I like to think that we have more flexibility in terms of what we can and can’t do to be able to provide for a wider demographic of borrowers in the community,” she said. “I like to sit down with my customers face to face. If you’re dealing with a big conglomerate, you might not have that opportunity.”

While Behrendt and her colleagues, as well as WNB Financial’s services, are certainly accessible online, she said, “There is definitely still a demographic that enjoys coming in and talking to our tellers, having a cup of coffee, and having that one-on-one relationship with your bankers.”

“Having a pre-approval in your back pocket checks one of those boxes off for both the Realtor you’re working with as a buyer and for the listing Realtor as well…”

Because WNB Financial is a full-service community bank, Behrendt is able to introduce her clients to people who can help them with a variety of financial needs, including savings, checking, and money market accounts, as well as certificates of deposit, business banking, and investment services.

For those seeking mortgages, Behrendt offers a steady hand and helpful advice. One important tip: If you’re planning on purchasing a home, Behrendt suggests getting pre-approved for a mortgage. “Having a pre-approval in your back pocket checks one of those boxes off for both the Realtor you’re working with as a buyer and for the listing Realtor as well,” she said.

Having a pre-approval can help you determine what houses you can afford. As interest rates have risen — from the 3% range two years ago to around 7% today — the price points for buyers have changed as well, Behrendt noted. (And, she added, while rates have risen, they are still below national historic averages.)

Behrendt added that using a mortgage calculator when starting the process of shopping for a home can also be helpful as a way of determining what a potential buyer can afford. “Education is key,” she said.

Potential homebuyers should also have a budget handy, and should remember that the cost of buying a home includes not just the mortgage itself but also costs such as property taxes and homeowners insurance. Buyers should also have an idea of what their credit rating is, and she suggests they take advantage of free credit reporting services available through most financial institutions. This can alleviate questions or concerns that might come up during the home-buying process. For example, interest rates may be based on risk, which means they can change based upon your credit score, she noted.

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, someone looking to upsize or downsize, or are looking for a second mortgage, Behrendt wants to be in your corner.

“I still like to go to all of my closings,” she said. “I enjoy being their mortgage professional from start to finish, so there aren’t any questions or concerns. When you come to the closing table, your lender is there with you.”