How to Compete in Today’s Housing Market

It’s a hot housing market these days. That means there are more buyers looking to purchase homes than there are homes for sale, giving way to some strong competition. With the pandemic, more city dwellers and renters are looking to buy resulting in bidding wars and homes selling for more than the asking price. So how are you supposed to beat out the competition? Take these tips into consideration if you’re looking to buy them!

Be proactive.

Homes may go off the market lightning fast in a seller’s market, so be ready to act fast. Research houses in your preferred neighborhood before you are ready to buy to get a feel for the market. This will help you determine what the typical price range is and how quickly homes are sold. When you are ready to purchase and have found a home, if possible, try and schedule a safe or virtual tour as soon as possible. This will give you an advantage over other buyers to put in an offer before others even see the house.

Get pre-qualified.

When buying in a competitive market, you should always be as prepared as possible. First, start by getting pre-qualified. Getting pre-qualified shows the seller you are serious and ready to buy. Having your finances in order indicates you have the means to purchase the house and won’t need to back out of the contract for financial reasons.

Make a strong offer.

Bringing your strongest offer to the table may save time by eliminating a negotiation period or bidding war. A seller may not want to deal with the hassles of negotiating, so if you present a solid offer, it may have a better chance of being accepted right away. Also, bringing your strongest offer will save you time, and probably money, by taking you out of a bidding war. Presenting an offer that is much lower than the asking price could deter the seller and they will take your offer right off the table. If you have done your due diligence, you will know the best offer to make.

Get personal.

Writing an additional letter to the seller, along with your offer letter, may help you stand out against other buyers. If you plan on making the house your forever home, write a formal letter to the seller explaining how you envision your family in the home. Maybe you see yourself cooking breakfast for your family every morning in the kitchen, or describe how you can see your kids playing in the backyard on sunny days. Adding a personal touch to your offer may give you an advantage over your competition.

It’s a tough market out there right now, but with the right mindset and game plan, you will be enjoying your new house in no time!

If you are ready to get started, contact one of our loan officers.

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, your real estate agent is going to play an important role. Real estate agents perform a variety of tasks during real estate deals such as organizing the transaction, acting as a liaison between buyer and seller, and offering support to their client throughout each step of the process. With so many real estate professionals available to work with, it can be hard to know how to choose someone. Here are some tips for finding the best agent to work with.

Get Referrals

Ask friends, family, and other area homeowners you know about their past real estate agent experiences. Maybe they had an amazing experience with an agent you weren’t considering, or maybe they had a not-so-great experience with one who appears stellar on paper. Even if you consult people you know who live outside the area you’re searching, you can learn about things they did or wish they’d done differently while on their own home buying or selling journey. Talking to those who’ve actually been through the process can help you get a feel for what’s important to look for in an agent.

Do Your Research

The internet is an incredible tool when searching for just about anything, real estate agents included. A search as simple as “real estate agents [location]” or “real estate agents near me” can return many results, giving you a great place to start. Most agents at least have a page through their brokerage firm, but many have their own individual websites and social media pages. These can help you learn more about who the agent is and what kind of experience they have. Additionally, there are many sites where you can see reviews left by individuals who’ve worked with an agent in the past.

Identify What’s Most Important to You

You and your real estate needs are unique, and some real estate agents are going to be better suited to working with you than others. If you’ve never purchased a home before, you may want to seek out an agent who specializes in working with first-time homebuyers. If you’re buying an additional property, you might want an agent who specializes in investment properties. Maybe you’re relocating and want an agent who has lived and worked in the area for a long time so you know they understand the local market. If you have a particularly busy schedule, you may want someone you know is available outside normal business hours. There are countless characteristics that could be worth considering, but it really comes down to what matters most to you.

Consider Talking to a Lender First

When you speak to a lender before seeking a real estate agent, you’re able to better gauge how much you can afford. This can save you time and energy by helping your agent select homes that are truly in your budget rather than simply taking a ballpark guess and ultimately wasting time by viewing listings outside your price range. Some agents have more experience working within certain price ranges than others as well. Getting pre-qualified also shows potential agents that you’re serious about buying.

Interview Multiple Agents

In most cases, you probably aren’t going to want to go with the very first agent you come across right away. You may think you’ve found the perfect agent, only to discover they’re too busy with current clients or just aren’t the best fit for your needs. You should consider and interview several agents. Send them an email or schedule a time to talk. These interviews not only teach you more about the agents themselves but give you an idea of their preferred communication methods and level of availability. How long have they been an agent? Are they full-time or part-time? Do they have references? Have they helped buyers find homes in this area and within this price range? There are many different questions you could ask. Interviewing an agent also gives you a feel for their personality and what they’re going to be like to work with. Compare and contrast the various interviews you have to see what—and who—stands out to you.

Go With Your Gut

Once you’ve done your due diligence, the ultimate deciding factor might come down to a gut feeling. Which agent do you think is going to best serve you? It may be the one with less experience who you get along well with and can tell has a strong work ethic. At the end of the day, there’s more to a person than just their credentials, and you should consider a wide variety of factors when making your decision.

Whether you’ve already found an agent to work with or are still looking for, contact one of our experienced loan officers today to explore your mortgage options and continue on your path to homeownership.

5 Things to Avoid During the Home Loan Process

When you’re pre-qualified for a home loan or beginning the mortgage application process, there are some actions you should avoid taking. These things could potentially delay your mortgage closing or even put you at risk of not being approved at all. Here are some things to avoid before your loan closes.

Avoid Making a Large Purchase

You’ll want to avoid making any large purchases regardless of whether it’s in cash or on credit. A large cash purchase will take away from your savings which you’ll need for a down payment and closing costs and a large credit purchase will increase your debt-to-income ratio and credit utilization which are used to qualify—or disqualify—you for a loan. It’s in your best interests to save large purchases after your mortgage has closed.

Avoid Opening or Closing Lines of Credit

Your credit can be pulled at any point during the mortgage process up through the date of closing. Opening a new line of credit or closing an existing one can negatively impact your score which, in turn, negatively impacts your chances of getting approved. You want your credit to remain as stable as possible when applying for a mortgage, especially if you’ve already been pre-qualified. Pre-qualification doesn’t guarantee approval, and if your credit score changes, there’s a chance you may not be approved. You can continue to use your existing credit cards as normal but be sure to pay these bills on time and not rack up your spending.

Avoid Missing Credit Card, Bill, or Loan Payments

Payment history plays a huge role in determining your credit score which is an important part of determining your eligibility for a loan. It is essential that you pay your bills and other financial obligations on time. Just one late payment can negatively impact your credit score. You should pay especially close attention to your spending during the home loan process to ensure you aren’t spending more than you’re able to pay off in a timely manner.

Avoid Starting a New Job

Situations, where you are suddenly out of work, can be unexpected and out of your control. However, if you’re employed but considering changing fields, seeking employment elsewhere, or becoming self-employed, it’s best that you wait until your mortgage has closed before doing so. Lenders examine your employment history to ensure you’ve had steady employment and income. Unemployment may result in disapproval, particularly when you’re applying on your own rather than jointly, and a change in jobs can require additional documentation which can slow the home loan process down.

Avoid Making Large Deposits

When you’re waiting for mortgage loan approval, you should avoid making any sizable deposits. Payroll deposits and transfers between accounts are generally fine, but other larger deposits (generally over $1,000) must have an explanation. If you do deposit a notable amount of money, your lender will likely ask for an explanation and proof of its origin which can slow down the home loan process or even lead to denial if you aren’t able to properly disclose information about the deposit. In any case, it’s best to hold off on depositing larger amounts until after your loan has closed. If you’ve received or are anticipating receiving a gift to go towards your down payment, it’s best to discuss this with your loan officer at the start of your mortgage application so you can properly document it and avoid any issues in processing your application.

When you work with a knowledgeable mortgage professional, they are able to walk you through the process and make sure you avoid any missteps that could slow down or jeopardize your loan approval. Contact one of our experienced loan officers today to learn more about the home loan process and start your journey!

5 Tips to Make the Most of Thanksgiving 2020

1 Decorate and dress up to make the day feel special, even
if you’re celebrating with a smaller group or by yourself
this year.

2 Relax and watch the Macy’s Day Parade. It will look a
bit different this year with no crowds, but the tradition
continues nonetheless!

3 Try outdoor dining and activities as a safer way to gather
with friends and family. Picnic tables and cornhole might
just become new holiday favorites.

4 Adjust your Menu. With many of us having much smaller
gatherings than usual this year, it’s a great time to take it easy and
keep the meal simple. On the other hand, it’s also an opportunity
to test out fun new recipes in smaller batches!

5 Use Facetime and Zoom to “party” with your friends and
relatives who are out of town and may not be able to travel this


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!

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