When to Consider a Renovation Loan

Sometimes you find a great house, but it needs a little bit of TLC. That is where a renovation loan comes in to the picture. A renovation loan, or 203(k), makes the process easier by allowing you to combine your renovation costs into your mortgage, helping you fund your home improvements. That means one loan and one closing, and a lot less stress on you!

There are a few different types of renovation loans offered that help fund minor repairs to major rehabilitation. Take a look at the overview below and decide which one will help you complete your dream home.

Standard 203(k) Mortgage Program: Use this program if you are looking to do large scale renovations, remodeling and repairs, and when a 203(k) consultant is required.

  • No maximum repair cost amount, minimum $5,000 in eligible improvements required.
  • Renovating/Remodeling: converting a 1-family structure to a 2-4 family structure, alterations such as repair or replacement of structural damage, constructing a garage, creating accessibility for persons with disabilities.
  • Repairs: fixing HVAC systems, decks, patios, porches, well and/or septic systems.
  • Energy conservation improvements: adding insulation, replacing windows and doors, install energy efficient lighting.
  • Landscaping.
  • May not be used for luxury items that do not become a permanent part of the property: swimming pools and hot tubs, bath houses, outdoor fireplaces, gazebos.
  • Minimum down payment of 3.5% for purchases, 2.25% for rate/term refinances.
  • Owner-occupied property only.

Limited 203k Mortgage Program: This program may only be used for minor remodeling and non-structural repairs. A 203(k) consultant is not required, but may be used for the project.

  • Maximum repair cost $35,000.
  • Improve house function and modernization: installing a new refrigerator, cooktop, oven, dishwasher, and/or washer/dryer, installing smoke detectors.
  • Connecting to public water and sewage systems.
  • Installing or repairing fences, walkways, and driveways, repairing old or damaged siding, gutters and downspouts.
  • May not be used for luxury items that do not become a permanent part of the property: swimming pools and hot tubs, bath houses, outdoor fireplaces, gazebos.
  • Repairs and improvements are completed in 6 months or less.
  • Minimum down payment of 3.5% for purchases, 2.25% for rate/term refinances.
  • Owner-occupied property only.

Fannie Mae HomeStyle® Renovation Mortgage: There are no required improvements or restrictions on the types of renovations allowed.

  • No minimum dollar amount required for improvements, however, a HUD-approved consultant must be used when repairs and renovations exceed $15,000.
  • May be used to complete final work on a newly built home when the home is at least 90% complete, remaining improvements must be related to completing non-structural items such as installation of buyer-selected items (flooring, cabinets, kitchen appliances, fixtures, and trim, etc.).
  • May not be used for complete tear-down and reconstruction.
  • May be used to construct outdoor buildings and structures such as swimming pools, garages, recreation rooms and accessory units.
  • Repairs and improvements are completed in 6 months or less.
  • Minimum down payment is dependent upon transaction type (3-25% required).


Already own your home but need to make some updates and repairs? We also offer renovation loans for refinances.


Contact a First Home Loan Officer in your area to discuss which option best fits your needs.



HomeStyle® is a registered trademark of Fannie Mae.

When is the Best Time to Buy a House?

Each season has its own highlights and downfalls of buying, so when is the best time to purchase a new home? Take a look at the information below to help you navigate the buying seasons.



  • More Inventory: Most sellers choose to list their properties in spring/summer, so there are more options for homebuyers.
  • Family Time: Better time for moving since you don’t have to worry about the kids being in school and after school activities getting in the way.
  • End of Summer Price Drop: As autumn months approach, home prices may take a slight dip in price, making them more affordable.
  • Buying and Selling: If you are looking to sell your current home as well as purchase a new one, it may be easier during spring/summer months since there is more demand.


  • Higher Competition: More buyers are searching for homes so the chances of you making the only offer are slim.
  • Peak Prices: More competition means more bidding wars and less room for negotiation, this can lead to paying more than the list price.
  • Time: Since there is a higher demand for houses, listings are flying off the market, giving you less time to decide which home is right for you.
  • Busy Realtors: Your realtor may be working with other buyers during this busy time, so you may not get the response rate you are expecting.




  • Better Deals: Home prices typically drop once the winter months roll in, making them more affordable than spring/summer months.
  • Motivated Sellers: Sellers will be more open to negotiate and accept your offer since their houses have been listed for a longer period of time.
  • Lower Competition:  Since spring/summer is a more ideal time to buy, there will be a lower amount of buyers during the winter months, giving you more time to make decisions.
  • Cold Weather Performance: Visiting a house in the winter can give you a general idea of how the house performs during winter months (whether the rooms stay warm, drafts through doors and windows etc.)


  • Lower Inventory: If houses didn’t sell in spring/summer, listings are usually removed once holiday season approaches.
  • Winter Weather: House hunting and/or moving in winter can be pretty terrible; colder temperatures and inclement weather can make visiting properties or moving boxes unenjoyable.
  • Holiday Season: People are busy during the holidays, so sellers/agents may not be available to show their homes as frequent.
  • Curb Appeal: There is a lack of greenery and landscaping in winter, making the house seem bland and less attractive.


While the tips above can be helpful points to consider, the main thing to remember is the best time to buy a house is when you are ready! When that time comes, contact a First Home Loan Officer in your area to guide you throughout the process.

Ocean City Has Been Awarded the “Best Of”

Coastal Style Magazine, a publication that celebrates the luxury lifestyle of the Mid-Atlantic region, just announced the winners of their annual “Best Of” Awards, and our Ocean City branch has taken top honors this year!

This was the 6th Annual “Best Of” Awards, and the winners were chosen exclusively by Coastal Style readers through an online ballot. Over 10 categories were created, such as Fitness and Recreation, Food and Beverage, and Entertainment, to showcase the best of the best in the mid-Atlantic region. From May 1-31, readers were able to vote on their top choice for each category.

Being contenders in the Professional category, First Home Mortgage has been awarded Best Mortgage Company in Worcester County. The entire Ocean City branch has been named Best Mortgage Team for 2018 and loan officer, Kari Story, has been crowned Best Mortgage Specialist for the 6th year running! Congratulations to Kari and the entire team for these outstanding achievements!

Be sure to pick up a copy of the September/October issue of Coastal Style Magazine or visit their website to check out the entire list of winners.  Coastal Style Magazine is distributed to audiences along the beaches of Delaware, Ocean City and throughout Salisbury.

Interior Design at the Touch of a Button

You have finally found your dream home, but there is one small problem; you have no idea how to decorate it! Lucky for you, design apps and websites have quickly become “must-have” tools for anyone looking to update the interiors of their homes. In the past few years, companies such as Modsy, Havenly, and Homepolish , to name a few, have upped the ante by pairing users with professional interior designers, right in the palm of their hands. These game-changing interior design apps and websites offer virtual design assistance for you and your home, working with any budget, style and preference. The concept differs slightly from company to company, but the general idea is to choose from different design packages, ranging in prices, to fit your budget.

How It Works

  • Take a survey or complete an online style profile that matches you with a designer that understands your vision.
  • Provide room sizes/measurements and photographs. Be sure to let the designers know if you have any existing furniture or decorative pieces you want to keep in the room.
  • Designers will then provide ideas, design concepts, layouts and/or floorplans based on your preferences.
  • From there, you can collaborate with the designer and discuss any changes or updates you may have.
  • Once you and your designer have pieced together the perfect room, you are then able to purchase any and all pieces shown on the design and have them shipped to your home.

As a busy homeowner, having online design tools ready at the touch of a button is extremely convenient . Between work and social gatherings, family events and vacations, your time may be limited to research an interior designer that fits your budget and understands your style and preferences. These easy to use apps and websites not only allow you to finally make your house a home, but also guarantee plenty of compliments from your guests.

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