After a horrendous first-time home experience at a young age with her new husband, Elizabeth Kollar understands the frustrations of home buying. So much so, she used that experience to empower her career. Today, she’s a senior vice president with Fifth Third Bank and she’s committed to making homeownership dreams come true – without the stress.
Get to know Elizabeth and Fifth Third Bank’s Loan Officer Team.
Written by: Allison Parker
Photography by: Dani Nicole Photography
As senior vice president and area sales manager for Fifth Third Bank, Elizabeth Kollar has a significant impact on the homeownership dreams of many customers – something she takes very seriously. Kollar understands that the home buying process affects all aspects of a family’s life. At Fifth Third, Kollar and her team focus on addressing homeownership comprehensively and as part of a family or individual’s larger financial situation. Ensuring that the financial decisions are aligned with a family’s overall goals is a key to maintaining stability for the family. It is important for those goals to remain obtainable, despite the introduction or change a mortgage can bring.
Kollar’s role is dynamic and multifaceted. “In the mortgage lending service, my role is to facilitate and maintain homeownership,” said Kollar. “We [at Fifth Third] work with clients to identify products that will achieve those goals, whether it is obtaining a mortgage for the purchase of a new home, refinancing an existing one for rate benefit, or exploring early payoff and debt consolidation. On the construction side, Fifth Third also supports the process for building new homes.”
Her personal experience with mortgages started when she was young, and explains why she feels that this
background makes her an asset to customers during their purchase process.
“My husband and I purchased our first home when I was only 19 years old, just about to turn 20,” she said. Her employee rate for the mortgage helped make the option to buy a home attractive, but if she were to leave the company, that rate would spike. “[Our first home] was for sale by owner, and six weeks after the purchase, we found out it was completely infested with termites, and literally, the house fell down.” Kollar continued, “I quickly realized that I did not really understand the transaction I had signed up for and that no one had been my advocate throughout the process.”
After a disastrous first-time buying experience, Kollar takes what she learned and shares it with her customers. Her best advice for new home buyers: work with a professional realtor. Early in the process, realtors can help identify properties that align with a client’s priorities, making the process of finding the right home easier. Realtors also can provide critical guidance when considering which home to buy, and help clients ask all the right questions before signing on the dotted line. “A trusted realtor will become your best line of defense against the ‘unknowns’ of home buying,” shares Kollar.
Kollar’s experience also influenced her career trajectory. When she purchased her first home, she was attending night school while working part-time at Fifth Third Bank as a teller for a bank. Frustrated by the purchasing process and confronted with the challenges of homeownership, Kollar decided to seek out a role in the mortgage division. Her goal was to find a way to help others avoid the situation in which she found herself. She began her career in lending support 38 years ago and worked her way up to become a mortgage lender in 1987.
In 1997, Kollar joined Fifth Third and transitioned over time to new roles in sales management, recruiting, training, and mentoring. She has over 22 years with Fifth Third. “I love every aspect of helping people recognize the dream of home ownership but also being a part of how to do that in a safe and healthy manner that supports their financial goals,” she says.
“Serendipity” is the word that comes to mind upon hearing Elizabeth’s story. Her passion for helping others through
the sometimes scary and confusing mortgage process is inspirational. Her heart led her to a position where she can shed light and help others avoid the pitfalls that can beset a first-time homebuyer.
Kollar’s customer-focused efforts are mirrored by the environment at Fifth Third. “At Fifth Third Bank, we put the customer at the center of everything we do,” Kollar explains. “The mortgage is a tool, amongst many in a person’s financial tool kit. We strive to be a trusted advisor, bring all team members to the table along with all the different areas of expertise, to educate and support each individual as they are making decisions that affect their family’s safety, soundness and overall financial health.”
Working with realtor partners is very important to Kollar and her team. She values their efforts in the field and works tirelessly to be a resource for them.
When asked what those realtor partners should know about her team, Kollar said that at Fifth Third there is an extremely deep product line for mortgages. Whether for a first-time buyer or a jumbo purchaser, her team can work with realtors to identify which product is the best fit for the client. “We used to have a marketing slogan that said, ‘We have a mortgage for that!’,” said Kollar to describe how her team can service a wide range of diverse needs.
Beyond the competitive products and rates Fifth Third offers, Kollar points to her team as another asset. “We have a staff of professionals to help [clients] support their transactions and grow their businesses,” she shares. Some of her top producers include Kyle Holland, Jay Gomola and Steve Sauer. Fifth Third’s approach is to provide the client with access to a “One Bank” team for their home buying, personal, and even business needs.
A cornerstone of Kollar’s work is serving the community. “I am proud to be a part of the tapestry of each and every family we serve,” she says. While the housing industry moves product like other commodity businesses, the mortgage industry is different; it helps put a roof over a family’s head, provides equity for the future, and allows a family to build personal wealth. Kollar explains, “We believe that homeownership strengthens our communities at the very core. That means we are committed to supporting [the mortgage lending] business and the real estate industry overall.”
Fifth Third has also demonstrated its commitment to the communities in which it operates, which is one reason why Kollar has continued to stay with the bank.
Throughout Kollar’s career, many changes have occurred within the mortgage industry. She has seen cycles through the years and has the industry knowledge to ride the changes with and for her customers and partners. “We have come full circle. When I was a processor in 1981, we documented every breath a family took financially. It is interesting that what was old is now new again, and we are back around to that same level of documentation,” says Kollar. To better illustrate why mortgages today require detailed information, Kollar asked, “What would you want to know if you were to personally lend someone $100,000? What would you require before writing the check? When you think in those terms what appears to be tedious seems more like smart and prudent.”
Outside of her work, Kollar enjoys downtime with her family. She cherishes her husband of 38 years, David, and together, they have three children and are grandparents to three – soon to be four – superb grandchildren, and two cute cocker spaniels, Barnum and Bailey. They love to spend time with family or on the water in their boat. Her best advice about family is simple: “We try to be sure we dance and laugh during it all.” What a great way to keep life’s ups and downs in perspective.
Whether in professional or personal life, Kollar is true to her heart, her family, her customers, and partners. She reflects, “Success to me is simply defined: at the end of my career, if I have positively impacted peoples’ lives, left the world a little better place and allowed people to see the greatness they have within them, I will consider that success.”
You may reach Elizabeth at 704-554-2468/ Cell 419-262-9474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.