MEET THE TEAM
Branch Manager - NMLS #197913
Michael Foley is not just a mortgage professional; he’s a seasoned expert with over 15 years of experience, dedicated to transforming your homeownership dreams into reality. His financial journey began at Arizona State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business and mass communications, setting the foundation for his stellar career.
In 2014, Michael decided to harness his skills in the thriving Texas real estate market, making Fort Worth his new home, where he resides with his loving wife and their enthusiastic son. With a wealth of mortgage knowledge and a track record of successfully leading mortgage loan originator teams, Michael knows that securing a mortgage is more than a transaction; it’s about forging enduring client relationships. He’s your dedicated partner, guiding you through every step of the mortgage process.
Drawing upon his deep industry insights, Michael ensures you have access to the very best lending options available. Beyond his professional prowess, he’s a pillar of his community and an active member of real estate organizations, notably the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, he was honored as Affiliate of the Year in 2017.
With Michael Foley by your side, your mortgage journey transforms into a seamless and rewarding experience, underpinned by trust, expertise, and a commitment to your success.
Team Production Manager NMLS #1085184
Phoebe Wetsel joined the mortgage industry in 2013. She is passionate about being the guiding hand for families during what may be the biggest, most important transaction of their lives. She understands the importance of being thorough and direct but also nurturing and light hearted while she gets your loan from point A to point Z. In her years of experience she has gained the expertise to be able to comb through unique financial scenarios and create files that will smoothly move through each phase of loan origination. She is seasoned in being the right hand of high producing loan officers that cater to all walks of life.
Phoebe is married to her best friend, Jeff. They have two children- Zeke and Georgia. In her free time Phoebe loves to vacation with her family, go on hikes, lift weights, go to church, listen to Rachel Hollis podcasts, cook, go to the movies, and sing Justin Timberlake in the car with her husband.
Loan Originator - NMLS #1647179
Bryan Upchurch is a husband, father, and mortgage loan originator with Merit Mortgage who takes pride in helping clients achieve their dream of homeownership. He fell in love with Fort Worth in 2012 and enjoys exploring the city with his wife and high school sweetheart, Alyssa, and their son, Josiah (6y) and daughters, Micah Joy (3y) and Ezra Rae (1y). He studied music at Southwestern Seminary where he learned the value of earnest and vigilant attention to detail. He takes with great weight the privilege of guiding clients and friends through their home financing options and equipping them with the knowledge to make informed, confident decisions regarding their most intimate investment.
From the initial consultation to post-closing, Bryan keeps clients informed and provides ongoing support, making sure they feel comfortable and confident every step of the way. By taking the time to understand each client’s unique needs and goals, Bryan is able to provide tailored solutions that best serve their long-term interests, ensuring a successful and financially sound investment in their family’s future.
Loan Originator - NMLS #1589908
Mindy Garcia Carrasco is a bilingual Senior Loan Originator. She has over 18 years of experience in the mortgage industry having worked in all sides of the transaction including title, processing, underwriting and now new loan originations. Her extensive background allows her to guide her clients through each step of the mortgage process from start to finish. She is originally from Fort Worth, Texas and still lives here with her 3 children and her husband of 18 years.
Loan Originator NMLS #621708
A 2002 graduate of University of North Texas, Brian Fuller cut his teeth in the financial industry by becoming an Account Representative at a local Washington Mutual bank in Lewisville TX, opening accounts and doing teller transactions. Intrigued by how to help clients leverage their hard earned money, he obtained his licenses to become a Personal Financial Representative and helped people review their financial goals, and help pick the path that best suits them to reach those goals through interactive discussions.
Brian became interested in mortgage when he saw the many options, parties, and documents involved in obtaining financing for Residential Real Estate. His desire was to understand the process in a technical manner to help simplify the intricacies and many options available. His goal? Match the best options available to the goals of his clients by asking good questions and offering solutions via his vast knowledge of the multiple mortgage financing options available.
Often accused of being pretty congenial, Brian wanted to become hyper local and develop re-occurring relationships with his clients, as well as, industries associated with local Real Estate transactions.
When he’s not working on Real Estate, (as he has investment properties of his own). You can find him on the Lake, in the Mountains, riding his bike, or just relaxing outside enjoying nature…rain or shine.
Loan Originator - NMLS #1543839
Valerie is a passionate Mortgage Loan Officer in helping individuals and families achieve their homeownership dreams. She has honed her expertise in guiding clients through the complex world of home financing.
Valerie’s commitment to her clients goes beyond securing the best mortgage rates and terms. She takes the time to understand their unique financial situations and goals, ensuring that every client receives personalized advice and solutions tailored to their needs.
Known for her exceptional communication skills and unwavering dedication, Valerie simplifies the mortgage process, making it understandable and stress-free. She believes in empowering her clients with knowledge, enabling them to make informed decisions about their home investments.
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, looking to refinance, or seeking assistance with your real estate investments, Valerie is your trusted partner in the mortgage industry. Her professionalism, integrity, and deep industry knowledge have earned her a reputation as a reliable Mortgage Loan Officer who truly cares about her clients’ financial well-being.
Outside of her work, Valerie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, salsa dancing, fitness, outdoors and cooking. She also actively volunteers in her community as an Ambassador with the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and in her church community, giving back to those in need and strengthening the bonds that make her hometown a wonderful place to live.
Loan Originator - NMLS #2491802
Noah is a Mortgage Loan Originator born and raised in the Lone Star State. A proud 2019 graduate of the University of North Texas, he seamlessly transitioned from the buzzing world of radio news in the DFW area to becoming your go-to guide in the mortgage realm. As a lifelong Texan, Noah brings local insight and a deep commitment to lead you through the mortgage process with expertise and a personal touch.
Outside the office, you can find Noah exploring the outdoors, catching the latest sporting event, tuning into his musical side, or indulging in all of the diverse culinary delights the DFW area has to offer. Whether you’re navigating your first home purchase or looking to refinance, Noah’s passion for community makes him the ideal partner for a smooth and personalized mortgage journey.
Loan Originator - NMLS #2442326
Janett Navarro, serves as a dedicated Loan Originator at Merit Mortgage. Born and raised in the Lone Star State, Janett finds joy in the simple pleasures of life. In her free time, she’s often exploring new destinations with her partner and two beloved dogs. A creative spirit, Janett channels her passion into sewing and crafting unique creations. Eager to meet new people and help individuals achieve their homeownership goals, Janett is your reliable guide in the mortgage journey. Connect with Janett today and embark on the path to your dream home!
Loan Originator - NMLS #2567402
Ryan Brown is a dedicated professional with a passion for the mortgage industry. With nearly 13 years of marriage, he has successfully built a life with his wife and shares the joy of parenting a son. Ryan’s journey into the mortgage world was shaped by his early experiences building log homes with his father, fondly referred to as “Pop.”
Growing up, Ryan gained valuable insights into construction and real estate through his hands-on involvement in crafting log homes. This early exposure ignited his enthusiasm for the intricate processes of home financing and mortgage structures. It was during this time that he developed a keen interest in understanding how individuals navigate the complexities of homeownership.
Now, as a seasoned professional, Ryan brings a unique perspective to his work, blending his hands-on experience in construction with a deep understanding of the financial aspects of homeownership. His commitment to providing personalized and informed guidance to clients reflects his passion for helping individuals and families achieve their homeownership dreams.
In both his personal and professional life, Ryan exemplifies dedication, a love for family, and a genuine excitement for the mortgage industry.
Loan Originator - NMLS #2558503
Gabriela is an eager, client centric loan originator who can’t wait to make the dream of homeownership a reality for her clients. She prides herself on her highly focused attention to detail, strong problem solving skills, and solution oriented mindset.
After she earned her bachelor’s degree in business from Texas State University as a first generation college graduate, Gabriela began her journey in the mortgage industry in 2019. As a fluent bilingual, she assists English and Spanish speaking clients. Hearing clients shout from excitement after getting cleared to close is her favorite part of working in the mortgage industry.
When she is not helping her amazing clients, Gabriela spends time serving at her church in Fort Worth in the children’s ministry. She loves helping others feel special and heard. She enjoys spending time with her family and two dogs – Baker & Penelope, watching Friends, and cheering on the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys.
Liz is an experienced loan processor who has been with Merit since its inception. She plays an integral part in supporting our loan officers and their clients throughout the entire home loan process. She manages all third party requests. Liz ensures that all necessary documentation is received from our clients to enable a smooth underwriting process and timely closing. She is experienced with FHA, CONV, VA and Jumbo loans. Liz is fluent in English and Spanish. Her attention to detail and cheerful positive attitude make her an extremely valuable asset to our team.
Liz was born in Mexico City, and was raised here in Fort Worth, Texas. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her family, loves working out at the gym, and likes taking spontaneous trips. She still lives in Fort Worth, with her 2 children and her husband of 9 years
Founder - NMLS #319405
Craig Kautsch has been a lifelong entrepreneur and is the founder of Avocet Ventures, a portfolio real estate company that has cracked the code in providing homeownership to low-income families in DFW. Avocet has been originating portfolio mortgages for over 10 years. His company has made a huge impact in the lives of families that wouldn’t otherwise be able to own a home. He has purchased, restored, and sold over 600 houses in DFW. In 2016, Craig launched Indwell Realty, a business development company where real estate agents can build their perfect real estate career.
Craig is deeply motivated to help high performers excel at work and at home. He has been personally trained by Dr. John Townsend and is a Director in the Townsend Leadership Program. He is also enrolled in the Executive Coaching Graduate Program at the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling at Huntington University.
He is able to draw from his big successes and colossal failures and has extensive experience navigating both. A great balance of scar tissue and high trajectory growth gives birth to his well-rounded and valuable perspective.
Everyone thinks leaders are okay because they appear so strong and capable, but as a leader with first hand experience I know this isn’t the truth. Most leaders aren’t running on all cylinders, because they don’t have a safe place to process their fears and struggles. I know from personal experience that being in isolation can cause you to lose millions. I have a passion for showing leaders the real issues that are holding them back instead of repeating a bunch of strategies and tactics they already know
Founder - NMLS #342413
Lee Ellis, an entrepreneur by nature is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Avocet Ventures, L.P., Indwell Realty, L.P., and Merit Mortgage, L.P. residential real estate brokerage services, portfolio, mortgage lending, and home building companies based in North Texas.
Co-Founded with Craig Kautsch in 2002, the partnership has formed an extremely capable and productive dual owner leadership team.
You will always find Lee working at the heart of the companies Mission, “Helping Families Build Better Lives Through Homeownership”. The company puts a strong emphasis on educating and counseling families in the areas of understanding home loan financing, responsibilities and benefits of homeownership. Due to the extra care and unique lending style, the company has helped hundreds of families achieve homeownership where it otherwise might not be possible.
He is extremely passionate about professional and artistic creativity that produces a positive impact on people and leaves a lasting mark on the world. Whether that is through designing and building a beautiful new home or creating operational systems that allow the businesses to function and serve families at the highest level.
Influencing a culture where growth and living a truly balanced life is of the highest importance, Lee actively influences each company and its operating practices. Driven by a spirit of giving and serving families, the various companies work seamlessly together with the Mission being their ultimate filter.
Lee always strives to perform with standards of excellence, unity, and grace. His personality is persistent and unwavering in determination, while actively waiting on, and by being actively dependent on God.
A proud veteran of the United States Coast Guard and a former Corporate Manager for one of America’s largest privately owned companies; Lee has been a proven and passionate leader since 1981 and a business owner since 1999.
Lee married his wife Kimberley in 1995. They have two beautiful children, Harrison and Sophie and live in Fort Worth, Texas. The family worships at Christ Chapel Bible Church, and are all actively involved with several community service organizations outside of, or in partnership with their own companies.
1 Cor. 10:33