You are here: Benchmark Home » The Benchmark Blog

Setting the Benchmark

We set the Benchmark by our dedication to our five core values. These values extend beyond mere talking points; they are our way of life.



In the mortgage business, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of each individual loan. With Benchmark, it is never only about the transaction. We keep the focus on our local community and the relationship with our client. Building and maintaining relationships always comes first. All other things are secondary. The individuals that make up the Benchmark family were thoughtfully and strategically selected to make a difference in their communities.


Positive Attitude

Attitudes are contagious. We want ours to be the difference between a good experience and an excellent experience for our clients.
The Benchmark culture thrives because of the great attitude each team member holds. In a world with so many unknowns, we have each made the conscious decision to conduct ourselves with a positive attitude at all times, in all areas of our lives.



In an industry that is so rapidly changing, Benchmark thrives because of our adaptability, creativity, innovation, marketability, and courage. It’s not enough to keep up. Instead, our strategy is to always stay ahead by constantly asking ourselves ‘how can we take this a step further’? Our dynamic approach has driven our success from the beginning.



Benchmark has a record of standing out since 1999, because of our dedication to going the extra mile. It has never been enough to simply ‘do things well.’ We strive to do all things exceptionally well. When there’s a need, Benchmark seeks the best way to fill it.

In 2012, Chief Visionary Officer and Cofounder of Benchmark Mortgage, Stewart Hunter saw a pressing need to care for our veterans. For 6 years, as of writing, Benchmark has sponsored Boot’n & Shoot’n, a fundraiser that benefits veterans and their families by providing scholarships to the Brain Treatment Foundation and Third Option. All Benchmark branches come together annually to raise money for the men and women who have served our country. Boot’n & Shoot’n is our way of giving back and making sure that we stay focused on what really matters: people taking care of people.



Success is how we ensure that we are headed in the right direction. It is achieved when the Benchmark passion aligns with each of our core values. Thinking past the ‘now’ is our strength. We are constantly evaluating our success based on current performance and how we can excel in the future.

What Pet Owners Should Know Right Now About Buying A Home

What Role Do Pets Play?

61% of U.S. households have a pet or have future plans to get one.
99% of owners feel that their pet is part of the family.
81% of Americans say that their pets play a role in their housing decision.
19% of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet.*
12% percent have moved for their pet.*
*would consider moving, or have moved total: 32%

Housing Demand

With 99% of owners feeling that their pet is part of the family, all pet owners would likely take notice of pet friendly features of a home. Considering that more than half of American households have pets or plan to get one, pet friendly features are a good way to add extra appeal to the majority of families if you are not looking for your “forever home”.

House Or Home

When buying a home, not only is there no pet fee, but it’s also a great idea to highlight what you think makes a home “pet friendly” in order to help with your decision! To get you started, here are some suggestions:

  • What kind of flooring does it have?
  • How much room will your pet(s) have to roam?
  • How easy will it be to keep it clean?
  • How walkable is the neighborhood?
  • Is there a dog park nearby?

These are just a few examples.

Top 3 things pet owners look for in a home

  1. Fenced-in backyard
  2. Dog-friendly areas nearby
  3. Close to pet stores and veterinarian offices

Keep outdoor spaces and location in mind when shopping for your next home. If you need help getting started, find your branch call todaycontact us today!

All data sourced from National Association of REALTORS Research Department’s February 13, 2017 report: “Animal House: Remodeling Impact” (

Rent or Buy? 4 Things to Consider

Housing Cost Control

When your current lease ends, your landlord will probably raise your rent. Does the new rent fit your expected housing costs? If not, you will be left planning your next move with short notice. A fixed rate mortgage payment may never change, while the ever-rising rent will continue its ascent. [see Top 5 Financial Reasons To Buy Now]


Location Control

If you rent, you can be told to move at any time, as property ownership or assigned use can change at the whim of your landlord. Once again, you could be making an unplanned move in short order. Wouldn’t you like to be in control of where you live, and for how long?


Family Wealth Security

A rented space cannot be imparted to your descendants. The idea of Home carries a wealth of memories for friends and family, and renters miss the opportunity to leave their home and its legacy for loved ones. It also gives them the above benefits, or leverage for other uses or needs.


Timely Repairs

Whether you rent or buy, it’s a guarantee that things are going to break. As a renter, you’re at the mercy of property management or your landlord because you don’t have the luxury of managing your own timely home repairs. If you’ve ever been made to wait for repairs, you may have thought you would be better off if you were allowed to handle the job yourself. In your own home, you can act immediately, and upgrade, if that’s what you want. Hiring a professional to make repairs, asking a friend, or even fixing it yourself are all available options.

No more cold showers while the maintenance man is on vacation. It’s in your hands now.


Is Owning Right For You?

If you’re ready to discover whether homeownership is right for you, find your Benchmark branch, and call today. contact us contact me today. It would be my our pleasure to help you get started.

Top 5 Financial Reasons To Buy Now


Increasing Prices 

Over the last year, home prices have increased by 7.1%, according to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index (HPI) report.  Over the next year, the HPI also predicts that prices will continue to rise at a rate of 4.9%. Clearly, we are long past the dip in home pricing. Home values are expected to continue to appreciate for years to come. In short, waiting no longer makes sense.


Anticipated Rising Mortgage Interest Rates 

The Primary Mortgage Market Survey published by Freddie Mac shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have drifted around 4%. Experts predict that rates will rise over the next year. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors project that rates will increase by this time next year. An increase in rates is likely to cause your potential monthly mortgage payment to rise if you plan buy your next home.


Either Pay Yourself or Pay Your Landlord

Some renters who are uncomfortable with the obligation of a mortgage have not yet purchased a home. The reality is that unless you are living rent-free, every rent payment you make is paying your landlord’s mortgage. As a homeowner, your mortgage payment can be considered ‘forced savings’ in that it builds equity in your home that you can use to your advantage later in life. As long as you continue to rent, you will continue to build equity… for your landlord. When you buy a home, the advantage in housing payments is yours. For more on this, read Millionaire Tells Millennials To Buy A Home, published in January.


Rent Control

A fixed rate mortgage payment will not increase over the life of the loan. Rent, on the other hand, will likely continue its historic path. See the graph above from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: Rent of primary residence, retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:

In short, buying a home can help you take control of your housing costs.


It Might Be The Right Time To Act

The cost of a home is determined by (1)the price of the home, and (2)the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise. But what if they stagnated? Would you wait? Consider the real reason you are buying and decide if you think it is worth waiting.

Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, the choice to keep pets and room for them to roam, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, now may be the time to buy. If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could result in significant savings.

If you decide that you are ready to act, find your loan officer and applyapply now.

collage with "EXCELLENCE IS OUR BENCHMARK" overlayed

We Have Your Back – The Benchmark Way

With Benchmark, you’re never alone. We know that getting a mortgage can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Our family is here to walk you through the process of getting you home. In the last part of this series, we gave you an overview of what it takes to buy a home. In today’s post, we give a deeper view into the heart of our approach to long term advocacy for our clients.

From applying for a mortgage through closing on your new home, Benchmark has your back. Welcome to,

The Benchmark Way.

yacht sails in the wind

Loan Creation

Getting a mortgage shouldn’t cause you to worry or make you stress. We want you to be confident and at ease.

After first talking with your loan officer, your loan is created to match you with the perfect loan for your goals. Are you afraid of being left alone with the burden of managing your loan? No need to worry; our work isn’t over at closing.


binoculars on a granite shelf with a view of the sunrise

Market Watch

We understand the importance of a low rate. Wouldn’t you like to be notified at the first sign of any potential benefit? With minute-by-minute access to market rates, we accurately monitor the market in relation to your specific loan.

This includes staying ahead of rate changes by tracking hourly and daily mortgage-backed securities(MBS) movement, with the ability to chart progress in 5-minute intervals. Significant movement triggers custom alerts on a each affected loan for potential benefits. There is no time like the present.


little girl sitting with on a large padded armchair with her young dog

Beyond the Technical

Reaching out to our clients when there is an opportunity to save money is just one part of what we call our “Lifetime Loan” experience. While wee take pride in having the right tools to monitor the market as it relates to your loan, our main focus is not the transaction. We are dedicated to building real, lasting relationships. To us, business is not just business; business is personal.


alarm clock on a teak table in broad daylight

Yearly Reviews

In addition to our real time market analysis, we also perform an in-depth yearly review of your mortgage. Our clients get a forecast of what we foresee the future markets and rates to look like, and provide a unique personal action plan for you.

You are kept in-the-know and up-to-date on any potential changes that may be beneficial for your loan. By keeping your options our priority, we strive to make sure you get the most out of your mortgage.


collage of happy benchmark clients and text reading "Benchmark brings you home"

Benchmark Does It Better

If you only remember one thing, let it be this: Benchmark has your back.

If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding your loan, no matter if it’s been a few days, or several years since closing, please feel free to reach out to us for help. After all, our company is built on relationships.

When you choose Benchmark, you have an advocate for life.

Are You Ready?

If you are ready to begin the process, find your loan officergive me a call or contact mechoose your loan officer or contact us today.

collage of happy benchmark clients and text reading "Benchmark brings you home"

The Benchmark Way – Buying A Home

With Benchmark, you’re never alone. We know that getting a mortgage can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Our family is here to walk you through the process of getting you home. In next part, we will give a deeper view into the heart of our approach to long term care of our clients.

From applying for a mortgage through closing on your new home, Benchmark has your back. Welcome to,

The Benchmark Way.

The Process

Contact Your Lender

Before you get started with a mortgage, you’ll want to find your loan officergive me a call or contact mechoose your loan officer or contact us today. Your Benchmark lender is a licensed mortgage professional who understands exactly what it takes to match you with the best possible loan to match your goals. It’s important to note, no loan will ever be the same.

photo of typing on a laptop keyboard

Get Pre-Approved

Getting pre-approved is the first major step towards purchasing your new home. To get pre-approved, we verify your information and documents to determine how much you are able to borrow towards your new home. This will strengthen any offer you decide to make on a home.

Get a Real Estate Agent

Having a good real estate agent can greatly enhance your home-buying experience. They can help match you to the home you may not have even known you wanted, and are your best advocate in negotiating your offer. Through our relationships, your Benchmark lender may be able to make a great referral for you.

For some tips on choosing one one your own, we have a great article for you: Find A Great Real Estate Agent The Easy Way.

photograph of front door to a home with wysteria vines and purple flowers in front of brick facade

Find Your New Home

Knowing your price range and desired location(s) will help your real estate agent with your search. Once you have your home in sight, move FAST. Contact your agent, and let your Benchmark lender know about your find!

photograph of brass well-worn pen nib

Sign The Contract

Whether the Contract is completed by your realtor or by yourself, its completion will get you one step closer to your new home. As soon as the offer is accepted and the contract is signed by all parties, please communicate your new home’s address to your lender. Then we will be able to start assembling your Loan Estimate.

Your Loan Estimate

Your Benchmark lender will send you a loan estimate. The loan estimate will give you a general overview of your loan and estimated costs.

collage with "EXCELLENCE IS OUR BENCHMARK" overlayed

The Benchmark Magic

This is where The Benchmark Way of lending wins the race. Our team of underwriters and processors will be working hard to make sure we have what we need from you to close your loan on time. So, sit back and relax… We are ordering your appraisal, getting documents from Title, and everything in between to complete your loan.

Final Approval

This is our favorite part of theprocess! Our underwriters have looked over all of the documents and have given their seal of approval. At this point, you’re almost home!

Closing Time!

The closing date will be set*, and the documents** will be ready to be signed. Get your pen ready, because we will need for you to sign on lots of lines! After everything is signed, the keys are yours. Welcome Home!

*Clear to Close: This simply means that all conditions of your loan have been met, and the loan underwriter has given the blessing to release instructions to your title company for the closing. If  you are buying a home this is your goal.
**Closing Disclosure: All lenders are required to provide your Closing Disclosure three business days before your scheduled closing. Use these days wisely! Double-check that all of the details are correct. If something looks different from what you expected, ask me why, and let’s get it sorted ASAP. NOW is the time to resolve problems. If the explanation you get isn’t enough, just keep asking questions.

collage of happy benchmark clients and text reading "Benchmark brings you home"

Most Patriotic Day in Texas Raises Money to Support Veterans

One Million Dollars Raised at Private Fundraising Events to Support Veterans

DALLAS, TEXAS – APRIL 21, 2017 – The sixth annual “Boot’n and Shoot’n” and “Boot’n and Salute’n Benefit Dinner” raised a record $1,000,000 to support military veterans.

Both events, sponsored by Benchmark Mortgage, a mortgage banker located in Plano, Texas, support the work of The Brain Treatment Foundation, Third Option Foundation, 22Kill, and the Dallas Fort Worth Fallen Officer Foundation. Kara Williams of the Brain Treatment Foundation stated, “The money raised will offer life-altering treatment programs to veterans that are otherwise unavailable through the VA. This will not only change the life of a veteran, but will also affect their families, their loved ones and the community they served. We are so honored to be a part of the most patriotic day in Texas.”

New this year was the addition of the Boot’n and Salute’n Benefit Dinner held on April 5, 2017. The dinner honored veteran heroes and their families with moving tributes and stories. The dinner also featured a stirring keynote address from retired US Army Lt. Col. Allen West and a live auction. To top off the evening, guests were treated to a private concert from Stoney LaRue. The Boot’n and Shoot’n event held on April 6, 2017, at the Dallas Gun Club featured a clay shooting competition that paired veterans and civilians for a few hours of fun followed by silent and live auctions and live music from Jon Wolf.

What started in as means to establish support for veterans and their families in the Dallas area has quickly grown into an event to honor and serve those from around the country who have given so much to so many. These events allow veterans and civilians to spend time with each other to build a community of support. Andrew Paul, Benchmark branch manager and former Navy SEAL, put it best when he said, “Honor your veterans and the fallen in how you live your life.” There is no better way to live than in serving others and offering gratitude to our service men and women.


Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC d/b/a Benchmark Mortgage (Benchmark) is a full-service mortgage banker. The company, founded in 1999, operates retail origination branch offices nationwide. In living out Benchmark’s core values, our branch offices are committed to the communities they serve, promising thoughtful, responsive, and efficient service.