John Simpkins | First Merchant's Bank

A Realtor’s Best Friend

John Simpkins, Senior Mortgage Banker with First Mortgage Bank, always thought he’d be a real estate agent. His affinity for the real estate industry runs deep, as he was born and raised in a family that owned and operated a real estate firm in Ann Arbor.  “My dad was the 1976 Michigan REALTOR® of the Year and my mom was an incredible partner,” John says. “I went to open houses and showings with them and was helping type sales agreements at ten years old.”  Growing up in this environment instilled in him a profound respect for the hard work and dedication required to succeed in the industry. Although he initially anticipated following in his parents' footsteps, John found his calling in the mortgage industry. 

“I met my banking mentor, Tom McLinden with Money Source Financial Services when I was 19 years old,” John recalls. “I started as an administrative assistant and always knew I wanted to be in sales.” He remembers when Tom gave him the opportunity to start originating mortgages. “I was attending Eastern Michigan University and going to class in a suit and tie because I had three closings that day,” he says. “I was 21 years old and my mind was made up.” 

Throughout his career, John has remained loyal to the same office location, situated opposite the University of Michigan Football Stadium. Despite changing logos four times the core team has stayed together, creating a unique familial atmosphere. Working for First Merchants Bank, John feels connected to a supportive community rather than a faceless corporation. “I don’t feel like I work for a corporation as much as a group of folks who feel like family,” John says. “Maybe it’s just dumb luck or a happy accident but I never wanted to find anything different, and I always recognized that the people I work with made it successful and enjoyable.” His dedication to his colleagues and the relationships he has forged have been key contributors to his many professional accomplishments. In 2022, he was awarded a prestigious Gold Shield Award as a Brand Champion of the bank, which is quite an honor for a sales professional as most of the awards were in banking operations. John is proud to represent the core values and pillars that the bank is founded on, Friendliness, Integrity, Reliability, Simplicity, and Trustworthiness. “Helping you prosper is what Team Simpkins is all about.” says John. 

John’s involvement with the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors has further solidified his position as a reliable resource in the local real estate community. He recently served as Affiliate Director on the Board of Directors for two years, showcasing his commitment to fostering collaboration between realtors and lenders. In recognition of his contributions, John was honored with the AAABOR Affiliate of the Year award in 2022. While he has experienced individual success, John is quick to credit his managers and mentors, Joe Skaisgir and Troy Fairbanks, as well as his team members Julie Neal and Lisa Wickham. “When I partnered with Joe & Troy, I began to fully understand what we were capable of and now we are truly a one-stop shop for all things finance,” he says. “We do all loans from bridge loans and equity lines, first-time buyers,  low to moderate income with grants and down payment assistance to Jumbo construction loans, and everything in between.”

While John's professional accomplishments are noteworthy, his devotion to his family takes center stage. John and his wife Hayley have three children—Spencer (10), Neil (8), and Audrey (4). Their mutual friends played cupid, introducing them in Howell, MI. John attributes much of his personal and professional growth to Hayley, emphasizing her role as a supportive partner and a grounding force in his life. “No one has done more for me than Hayley, she’s providing an incredible family life with intention,” he says. “I’ve always put my head down and run through situations, while she has a high degree of communication explaining what works, what doesn’t, and the importance of healthy boundaries.” John admits he sometimes struggles with work/life balance but has learned to read his family’s cues when he feels work pulling him in different directions. “I’ve shifted my focus from being a top producer to being the best husband and father I can be,” he says. “All the expectations I had put on myself were just that – self-generated.  Come to find out, it is possible to be a high achiever and your kid’s hero at the same time.” 

When he’s not at work, John enjoys family time at home. Living on a property with an apple orchard, raspberry patch, greenhouse, gardens, pool and a woodworking shop, the family finds solace in their serene surroundings. Their home has become an oasis where they can relax and enjoy outdoor activities such as hunting and hiking. For John, helping people find the perfect home for their families is not just a job; it resonates deeply with his own values of cherishing the sanctity of family life. “I value the sanctity of home and family so much,” he says. “Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I get to be a part of the process of helping  so many people find the right homes for their families.”