A Q&A with Our Loan Officers on How COVID-19 is Impacting the Mortgage Industry

Now more than ever, we are living in uncertain and challenging times. COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work and play. To get a better understanding of how this pandemic has affected the mortgage industry, we interviewed a few of our Loan Officers from different regions including Heather Devoto from McLean, VA, Anne Borghesani from Plymouth, MA, and John Dolbec from Warwick, RI. Here’s what they had to say:

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced during this pandemic?

Across the board, teleworking has been an adjustment because of the lack of face-to-face communication, interruptions from kids at home and difficulty of training new employees. However, technology has made things easier because anyone can jump on a video conference call and quickly address any questions or concerns in a timely manner.

What advice would you give someone looking to purchase a home during this time?

If you are ready to buy or refinance, rates are low and it is a great opportunity to take advantage of that if you can. If you are not quite ready yet, it’s never too early to know where you stand in terms of qualifying to buy a home.

Are there any positive things you’ve seen during this time?

The mindset about virtual technology and video conferencing has certainly changed for the better; people are much more comfortable logging into software applications like Zoom and Skype. Also, as a society, we are realizing that we can carry on with “business as usual” despite not being in an office environment. And for a lot of people, working from home has enabled them to spend more time with family.

How has the home buying process changed during COVID-19?

Buyers can now make offers sight unseen. We’ve seen most home sellers will not accept buyers without a pre-approval letter. Financing has become more creative using drive-by appraisals, title companies are now doing remote closings for convenience, and Open Houses require appointments, masks, booties, and hand sanitizer.

How have you and/or First Home Mortgage adjusted and adapted during this time?

We’re adjusting well and every member of our team has worked hard to take action to keep coworkers and clients as safe as possible. Our offices have come together working harder than ever. We’ve implemented new procedures to increase our levels of customer service.

Are there any other tips you’d like to give to potential homebuyers?

The market is competitive, and you want to be able to move fast! Spend the extra time in the beginning to educate yourself about the intricacies of buying a home so you can be confident and make smart home buying decisions. Once you are ready, talk to a loan officer to get the ball rolling on qualifying instead of looking online at homes you may or may not be able to afford.

Are you looking to buy a home or refinance? Please contact one of our loan officers today!

Home Office Small Space Solutions

Many of us  are now working remotely, and finding the space for an office in your home can seem daunting. Fortunately, even the smallest of areas can be transformed into functional and attractive workspaces! Find your inspiration with these unique creative options for a small space.

 

Closet Conversion

Remove a door from a closet and build or place a desk inside. You can use shelving to maximize your storage space, and use sliding doors or panels to hide any clutter for a crisp clean look. Painting the inside of the closet a different color than the rest of the room helps designate the space. Source: http://www.naptimedecorator.net/diy/the-closet-to-office-aka-cloffice-makeover/

Popup Workspace

If you want the freedom to set and break down easily, a popup workspace can be your best solution. Keeping portable work essentials all together allow you to easily relocate from your kitchen, to a coffee table, or to bedroom as needed. It’s a good idea to still ensure you have ergonomic seating if you will be working in the same place for a long period of time. Source: https://www.popsugar.com/home/popsugar-editor-at-home-offices-47352752

Corner Nook

Almost any corner of your home can fit a small desk and chair. Explore options to see which area of your home will work best for you. You can even purchase or build a corner shaped desk if you find your space is particularly tight. Source: https://justagirlandherblog.com/a-cozy-office-nook/

Many of us at First Home Mortgage are working from home as well. Our experienced Loan Officers are utilizing the latest communications technology to provide the highest level of customer service to our clients while keeping everyone safe. If you have any questions about purchasing or refinancing, please contact a loan officer today!

Photo credit: Betsy Goldbold

When is the right time to buy your first home?

Purchasing your first home is an exciting adventure with plenty of benefits. Homeownership can provide valuable tax breaks and offers an opportunity to build equity rather than spending rent money with no potential return. It is also an important personal and long-term financial decision, so it makes sense to prepare ahead of time and be sure you are ready.

Consider Your Income

Stable income is a vital factor in qualifying for a home loan. Even if you are in a non-traditional career, keep track of all your monthly income. This will help you and your lender to determine how much home you can comfortably afford. When planning a new budget, take all of your monthly bills into account as well as any additional maintenance and living expenses you’ll have in your new home.

Think About Your Lifestyle in the Next 5 Years

Are you planning on staying at the same place of work, or seeking a different career that might cause you to move? Are you considering sharing your space with a partner or having children in the near future? Purchasing a home is a major investment that involves certain costs, so if you think you’ll be moving or need a larger home soon, it might make sense to wait until you can buy something you’ll be living in longer. An exception to this is purchasing a home you plan to fix up and add equity to, in which case you could still move without a loss.

Learn About Where You Are Planning to Buy

Knowing which areas or neighborhoods you want to live in can help you narrow your home search. You may already be familiar with where you want to live, which makes the process easier. If you are relocating and planning to purchase somewhere new, it is good practice to tour the area you are planning to move to and learn as much about it as you can ahead of time.

Review Your Credit

Building your credit score up to a healthy level can help you obtain the best possible interest rate on your home. Paying down your debt and utilizing other methods to boost your score before purchasing a home can lead to significant long-term savings. That said, there are programs available for borrowers with a range of credit scores, so if you are unsure about your score a Loan Officer can advise you on your options.

Plan for Your Down Payment

The traditional 20% down payment is no longer the only feasible choice. There are several programs that may allow borrowers to pay little or no money out of pocket at the time of closing. Review how much of your savings you can put towards a down payment, and talk to an experienced loan officer about different loan programs to learn which is the best fit for you.

Feel Free to Ask Questions

Realtors and Loan Officers are all about customer service and building client relationships. They are happy to speak with you and answer your questions. Even if you are unsure whether now is the right time for you to buy, reaching out for advice from experienced professionals can give you peace of mind and a solid plan of action if you decide to wait.

Here at First Home Mortgage, we continue to provide the highest level of customer service while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Our innovative communication technologies allow us to exceed your expectations while keeping everyone as safe as possible. If you are considering purchasing or refinancing a home, please contact one of our Loan Officers today!

5 Ways to Staycation at Your Home This Summer

While many areas of the country have begun reopening, we are still living in a pandemic and the CDC recommends distancing to take priority. Sadly, this means many of our summer vacations have been put on hold. But after months of being cooped up you may be looking for ways for change up the scenery and “staycation.” Here are 5 ways to staycation in your own home and neighborhood.

  1. Backyard Camping

Build a tent, make a fire, roast some s’mores! Get out into the night air in your own backyard and sleep under the stars.

  1. Swap Rooms or Rearrange the Furniture

Painting or home renovations may not be in your budget or a commitment you’re ready to make. Instead for a change of scenery, rearrange the furniture, sleep in the guest room, let the kids swap rooms for the night! Order “room service” by having take out delivered, hop in your pajamas, and binge watch your favorite show.

  1. Turn your backyard into an oasis

Adding some summer elements to your backyard will be sure to shake things up and give you vacation vibes you’re looking for. Some more costly ideas could be adding in a pool, volleyball net, or built in grill and bar area. If you’re looking for ideas on a budget you could opt for an inflatable pool or slip and slide for the kids, a firepit, or a new set of bistro table and chairs. Adding some of these may even add value to your home!

  1. Have a theme night

With technology these days you can have the world at your fingertips! Plan each night for a week to be a different theme, whether that be riding virtual rides at Disney World online or take an online cooking class and then fly over Paris via Google Maps. Get the family involved and assign each member with a night to plan. The options are endless!

  1. Enjoy nature

Even with social distancing guidelines in place, we are still encouraged to safely get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Do some research in your town or community and take up some outdoor activities you’ve never tried. Whether that is learning a new sport the family came play together or finding a new hiking trail you haven’t tried!

Be sure to check out more blogs and resources on our website HERE!

Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/clever-ways-to-create-a-stellar-staycation-at-home/

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