Standing Out in a Competitive Housing Market

In a fast-moving market where homeowners are receiving multiple offers, it’s important to work with an experienced lender to determine all your options.

young couple holding keys up to their brand new financed home

The Fargo-Moorhead Area Association of Realtors recently released some statistics on our local real estate market. As of February 28, 2021, there were 1468 active listings year-to-date. In that same timeframe in 2022, active listings were at 1085 –  roughly a 25% decrease. So, there’s obviously fewer homes on the market this year, which generally means greater competition as a buyer.

Likewise, the average length of time homes stayed on the market was 66 days. In 2022, it’s 48 days. That means it’s a roughly 27% shorter window in which an average home is on the market this year. That shorter window generally means there’s more urgency for offers to move quickly.

Ways to gain a competitive edge

Most non-first-time homebuyers exist in a buy/sell scenario where they are getting contingent financing –  where the purchase of the new home is dependent on the sale of their current home. One option to consider that could make your offer more competitive is a bridge loan. A bridge loan is temporary financing that can be used either towards a down payment, or in some cases, the whole purchase itself. Home-sellers typically like certainty, and avoiding the question mark that comes with a contingent offer might give you a competitive edge.

In some situations, it’s also possible to get both a contingent and non-contingent pre-approval. If you’re in a competitive buying situation, your non-contingent offer might be more attractive to the seller in that it, as stated earlier, provides them with more certainty. In some cases, a seller will actually accept a lower, non-contingent offer over a higher contingent offer. It could be the difference between securing your next home or having to continue your search.

In a competitive market, it’s especially important to discuss these potential options with your banker so you give yourself as many advantages as possible. Contact your American Federal banker today for more information!



Brian and Chrissa Frisk Join American Federal Bank

American Federal Bank in Crookston is pleased to welcome new employees Ag and Business Banker Brian D. Frisk and Ag and Business Banking Analyst Chrissa R. Frisk.

The Frisks have extensive careers in ag lending.

Brian has been a Loan Officer and Vice President at AgCountry since 1996. Before AgCountry, he sold grain bins and drying equipment for the Custom Marketing Company in Fargo.

Brian is a native of Crookston and a graduate of Crookston High School. He earned a Marketing Degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Brian is a member of the Lions Club in Crookston and has served in several leadership capacities with the service organization.

Chrissa started in the Accounting Department at AgCounty in 2009 and most recently was a Loan Officer and Assistant Vice President. She also has several years of banking experience at the former Crookston National Bank, now Northern Sky Bank.

Chrissa earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Psychology from Chadron State College, Chadron, Nebraska, and an Associate’s Degree in Sociology from Western Wyoming Community College, Rock Springs, Wyoming. She is a native of Newcastle, Wyoming and graduated from Newcastle High School.

Brian Frisk
Chrissa Frisk

Financial Goals for the New Year

The new year is a perfect time for a fresh look at your financial goals!

Here are some tips to help get you started:

  • Review your Current Situation.  Before you get started revising or setting new goals for the new year, it is important that you take some time to assess where you are now. Look through your debt, savings and investments to prioritize where you should put your focus to make the biggest impact.
  • Establish an Emergency Fund (aka Rainy-Day Fund).  One of the most important financial goals is establishing an emergency fund to ensure you can cover unexpected financial obstacles down the road. Whether it is a broken water heater or a job loss – you should strive to have enough in your savings to cover at least three months of expenses.
  • Pay Off Debt.  Debt can get in the way of achieving financial goals, so a good resolution may be to pay off debt this new year. This will help you pay less in interest and put that money towards other savings and financial goals.
  • Set a Budget (and Stick with It).  Setting a budget is crucial to following through on financial goals. Start by adding up all your income, subtracting necessary expenses and determining how much you want to save each month. Your budget should be achievable and maintainable to be successful.
  • Plan for Retirement.  Take time to look at your retirement plan. Identify all your potential sources of income and expenses, including medical costs, you can expect when you retire and calculate how much you will need to maintain your current lifestyle.  Take advantage of any retirement plan match your employer offers.  Try to increase your contribution each year.
  • Commit to “No-Spend” Days.  Commit to one or two days a month where no money leaves your bank account. Get savvy and find fun ways to spend absolutely nothing.  Cook your meals, go old school with board games for entertainment, or read a good book. Find a new hobby that costs you almost absolutely nothing.
  • Meet with a Financial Professional.  A wise goal for the upcoming year is to work with a knowledgeable and experienced financial professional who can advise you on your financial goals. An American Federal Banker can help you create an action plan for your goals and help you make informed financial decisions.

Holiday Tips from the Federal Trade Commission

Keep your holiday shopping merry and bright with an early gift from the Federal Trade Commission: tips to help you watch your wallet, shop wisely and protect your personal information.

  • Make a list and a budget.  Impulse purchases are less tempting when you have a game plan. Consider how much you are willing to put on your credit card, and how long it might take to pay it off.  If money is tight, paying for a gift over time through layaway might help.
  • Do your research. Read reviews and recommendations about the product, seller, and warranties from sources you trust.  If you are shopping online, check for reports that items were never delivered or not as advertised.
  • Look for the best deals. Check out reputable websites that compare prices for items online and at your local stores. Remember, there may be shipping costs for online orders.  Look for coupon codes by searching the store’s name with terms like “coupons,” “discounts,” or “free shipping.” To save extra money, keep an eye out for rebates.
  • Keep track of purchases. Make sure the scanned price is right, and save all your receipts. If you shop online, keep copies of your order or confirmation number, the refund and return policies, and shipping costs. Have packages delivered to a secure location or pick them up at a local store.
  • Give gifts, not personal information. Protect yourself online by shopping only on secure websites with an “https” address. Stick to shopping apps that tell you what they do with your data and how they keep it secure.  Avoid holiday offers that ask you to give financial information – no matter how tempting. They might be trying to steal your identity.

Watch for Cyber Crime

Cybercriminals are holiday shopping, too, looking for people to scam out of their money. Here are some tips to help you outsmart those bah-humbug scammers and donate safely.

  • Online shopping? Pay by credit card. Credit cards give you extra protection for most online purchases. And many cards offer benefits, like protection for returns and purchases. If unauthorized charges pop up on your statement, you will be able to dispute the charges. Credit card protections can vary, so check with your issuer to understand all of your card’s protections. American Federal offers competitive credit cards with rewards options.
  • Buy gift cards for gifts, not for payments. Gift cards are a great holiday gift; however, they also are a scammer’s favorite way to steal your money. Anyone who contacts you and demands that you pay them with a gift card, for any reason, is always a scammer. Report gift card scams directly with the card issuer and then report it to the FTC at gov/complaint. Learn even more at  If you buy gift cards, treat them like cash and keep them in safe place.
  • Research charities before you donate. With the generous spirit of the holidays, and with year-end fundraising, ’tis the season for donations. Make sure your donation goes where you want it to, not into the hands of a scammer. Before you spread holiday cheer by donating to a charity or a crowdfunding cause, look into it first to make sure it is legitimate.  If someone calls, asking you to give to a charity, do not let them rush you into making a donation. Instead, research the charity to make sure your donation counts.  Visit to learn more.

Wishing you happy and safe holidays from American Federal Bank.

American Federal Is a Top Ag Lender

Two Bankers in Field

American Federal is again ranked a “Top 100 Ag Lender” by the American Banker Association (ABA).

Each quarter, the ABA ranks financial institutions across America based on ag loan volume and concentration.

American Federal has been listed as a leading farm lender in the United States by the ABA for several years in the current and the last decades.

When American Federal opened its doors for business in 1891 as a neighborhood financial association in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, it was at the heart of agriculture productivity in the Red River Valley.

During the past 129 years, that deep connection with the land and the region’s farmers and ranchers has only grown. A testimonial to that growth and our trusted relationships with our clients comes in the form of American Federal being recognized as a Top Ag Lender in the United States.

Throughout the decades, in good times and throughout challenging times, we have worked with farm owners and producers to help them be successful and achieve their goals. During the first and second rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program this year, American Federal submitted applications for 665 small businesses and farmers, totaling $45 million in loan assistance for our clients, and received funding from the Small Business Administration for 100 percent of the applicants.

Small Business Saturday: Buy Local

November 28 is Small Business Saturday.

When you shop local, you get the benefit of making purchases quickly and conveniently.  And, buying locally keeps money in our community.

Community Health

According to the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, and Society, researchers in the U.S. found that counties with a higher volume of local businesses actually had a lower rate of mortality, obesity and diabetes.

Buying local reaches beyond better health and promotes local prosperity.  Researchers found for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city.

Benefit the Local Economy

When you buy locally, the small business you patronize benefits.  And the benefits spread throughout the community.

A small business that is successful is likely to hire more workers and their payroll earnings are spent in the community.  Businesses pay local taxes that help the schools, charities, and road and infrastructure projects that residents benefit from.

Unique Experience

Small businesses typically have a unique offering that can produce a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.  A local business understands their customers’ needs because they take the time to build a relationship with their clients.  Local businesses often can be flexible and are able to quickly adjust to customer situations.

American Federal Salutes Small Businesses

American Federal Bank salutes small businesses who are the backbone and spirit of our region’s economy.  They grow their business, create jobs and ensure our communities remain vibrant.

Small businesses are the reason American Federal Bank was founded back in 1891.  We wanted to help main street businesses with their credit and deposit goals so they could be successful.

“American Federal is a small business in its own right.  We are an employee-owned community bank headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, with 13 Sales Offices up and down the Red River Valley and the Lakes Region of northwestern Minnesota.  This gives our Bankers a unique bond with their small business customers, and allows them to provide trusted advice and local decision making,” said Pat McShane, Fargo Downtown Market President.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, American Federal has helped more than 665 small businesses and farms with $45 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

Buying local is a win-win for customers, for small businesses and for the community.

American Federal Joins Banking Association in Anti-Phishing Campaign

American Federal Bank has joined the American Bankers Association (ABA) and banks across the nation in launching an industry-wide campaign to educate consumers about the persistent threat of phishing scams during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that consumers lost $1.9 billion to phishing schemes in 2019 and the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has increased the threat.

To combat phishing, the ABA’s “#BanksNeverAskThat” campaign uses humor and engaging print, digital and video content to empower consumers to identify bogus bank communications asking for sensitive information like their passwords and social security numbers. Because cybersecurity education and fraud awareness can often be dull and forgettable to some consumers, the campaign is designed to be bright and bold.

“This campaign is an effort by the banking industry to address a growing threat to our customers,” said Kent Anderson, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, American Federal Bank.

For more information about phishing scams and how to stop fraudsters in their tracks, visit

ABA Sweepstakes**

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a collaborative effort between government and industry that raises nationwide awareness of cyber crimes and prevention every October. Because it coincides with the launch of #BanksNeverAskThat, the ABA is celebrating with a cybersecurity-month sweepstakes.

Every week during the month of October, site visitors can test their scam savviness by taking the #BanksNeverAskThat Quiz, then sharing it on Twitter for the chance to win one of 15 gift cards. All entrants in ABA’s sweepstakes also will be eligible to win the $1,000 grand prize at the end of the month.

Take the #BanksNeverAskThat Quiz during the month of October at

PRO Tips

The #BanksNeverAskThat campaign focuses on phishing scams in the form of emails, texts and phone calls from cyber criminals pretending to be a bank.

Here are some consumer tips that highlight common phishing schemes:

Be wary of suspicious links and attachments. Banks will never ask you to sign in, or give personal info via email or text message. Bank will never send you a text or email that asks you to click a link, open an attachment or provide personal information. Links in phishing messages direct you to fraudulent websites. Do not reply to the sender. Ignore any requests from the sender and do not call any phone numbers provided in the message. Delete the text and trash the email. Do not download any attachments in the message. Attachments may contain malware such as viruses, worms or spyware.

Beware of scare tactics. Scam emails, texts and calls may pressure, or even threaten you, to respond. Just ignore it, and call your bank directly.

Protect your confidential information. Your bank will never ask you to provide confidential information (your account number, social security number, date of birth, name, address, password, etc.) in emails or text messages. Your bank will only ask for confidential information to verify your identity when you call them.

Be leery of callers. If you don’t expect a call from a bank, it could be a scam. Be aware that area codes can be misleading. If your Caller ID displays a local area code, this does not guarantee that the caller is local. If you think a call, email or text might be a scam, play it safe. Don’t provide any personal information. You may be asked to verify confidential information, if you call your bank, but never the other way around. If you receive an incoming call from someone claiming to be your bank, the safest thing you can do is hang up and call your bank yourself. Never respond to the caller’s requests. Banks and legitimate companies will never call you to request your personal information. Never give personal information to an incoming caller.

Watch for misspelled words. Fraudulent texts and emails often have typos or improper grammar.

Report it. If you feel you have been the victim of a scam and may have provided personal or important financial information, contact your bank immediately. Be sure to include any relevant details, such as whether the suspicious caller attempted to impersonate your bank and whether any personal or financial information was provided to the suspicious caller. Help fight scammers by also reporting them to officials. Report a phishing attack to the FTC at


** Drawing prizes given in form of prepaid card. Terms and conditions apply. Void where prohibited. See official rules at

Congratulations to Dan Filipi on his Retirement

Dan FilipiCongratulations and thank you to Ag and Business Banker Dan Filipi, who is retiring from American Federal Bank.

Dan has been helping American Federal ag and agri-business clients find the best solutions to reach their goals for more than 25 years.

In 1995, with American Federal’s growing agricultural portfolio and its commitment to provide superior customer service, Dan joined American Federal as a banker dedicated exclusively to agricultural lending in the East Grand Forks-Grand Forks market. Later Dan was named Vice President.

Dan fit the bill for American Federal and its customers with his years of agricultural lending experience, education and his life-time residency in the Red River Valley. He has enjoyed much success at American Federal, helping develop the bank’s ag lending philosophy, building strong relationships with ag customers around the region and providing outstanding customer service to his clients.

Dan earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from North Dakota State University in Fargo. He is a graduate of Warren High School, Warren, Minnesota.

Dan and his spouse, Sandy, and their two daughters, Danielle and Brooke, make their home in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Thank a Farmer Today

Agriculture plays an essential role in our everyday lives. Even amid the Coronavirus pandemic, our farmers continue to contribute to the stability of our local communities, state and country.

It’s that time of year, when farmers are bringing in the harvest, getting crops off the fields and lifting beets.

We recognize and thank our farmers for the tremendous job they do to produce the safest, most wholesome and affordable food supply in the world.

We salute our local farm producers and ranchers, their families and hired workers, neighbors, American Federal employees and volunteers who are helping get the job done with persistence and resolve during a unique time.

The next time you meet or pass a farmer on the road, give them a thumbs up to recognize their hard work and true grit.

Our Roots Are Deep in Agriculture

No doubt about it, farmers are the backbone of our region. We enjoy an abundant food supply and a stronger economy thanks to their dedication.

American Federal was founded in the Red River Valley in 1891. For decades, our Bankers and Associates have been working side-by-side with farmers and small businesses, providing the best solutions to help them reach their goals.

For example, during the Paycheck Protection Program, American Federal submitted applications for 665 small businesses and farms, totaling more than $45 million in loan assistance, and received funding from the Small Business Association for 100 percent of the applicants.

Caution on Rural Roads

Help keep our farmers and friends safe during harvest. Slow down, look twice and concentrate when you approach or pass a farm vehicle on the road. Roads can get slippery with mud and harvest debris. A little extra caution pays off for everyone at harvest.


American Federal Salutes Small Businesses

This year, National Small Business Week is celebrated September 22-24 with a three-day virtual conference. Despite the unique challenges amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, American small businesses continue to play a central role in building a strong nation.

National Small Business Week recognizes the critical contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners and how vital they are to the nation and our local economy. This year’s National Small Business Week activities include numerous educational panels providing retooling and innovative practices for entrepreneurs as the nation’s small businesses look to pivot and recover toward a stronger economy.

American Federal Bank salutes small businesses who are the backbone and spirit of our economy. They grow their business, create jobs and ensure our communities remain vibrant.

Small businesses are the reason American Federal Bank was founded back in 1891. We wanted to help main street businesses with their credit and deposit needs to reach their goals.

“American Federal is a small business in its own right. We are an employee-owned community bank headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, with 13 Sales Offices up and down the Red River Valley and the Lakes Region of northwestern Minnesota. This gives our Bankers a unique bond with their small business customers, and allows them to provide trusted advice and local decision making,” said Pat McShane, Fargo Downtown Market President.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, American Federal has helped more than 665 small businesses and farms with $45 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

More than one-half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create nearly two out of three jobs in the United States, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Why Americans Use Small Business

  • Consumers trust small businesses. A Gallop pole says consumers are three times as likely to express confidence in small business as they are in big business.
  • Strong customer service is an important factor that keeps clients returning to small business.
  • Small businesses give back to their communities whether it is supporting the local sports teams, participating in community events or hiring workers.
  • Small businesses produce value for a community. A strong community has a strong small business sector that produces annual receipts as low as $1 million for farms to $50 million or more for retail, construction, health care, manufacturing and service organizations.

Steps to Help your Small Business Thrive

When you are looking for ways to enhance your business development efforts, leverage financing programs that may be available, do your due diligence and make the most of your small business status by:

  • Using the SBA’s small business tools
  • Exploring financial solutions with an American Federal Banker (insert URL)
  • Searching for small business grants
  • Researching federal contract opportunities and pursuing registration if desired
  • Pursuing state and local government grants and contracting opportunities for small businesses
  • Taking advantage of SCORE’s support services
  • Supporting your fellow small businesses