4 Tips for Optimizing Your Storage Space

You love your home, but you feel like you’re running out of space and fast. Lack of storage space can quickly lead to clutter, disorganization, and frustration. Whether you don’t have a lot of space, or it just feels that way, being smart and efficient with the space you do have can make a difference! Here are 4 tips to best utilize the space you have for optimal storage!

Look up!

Go vertical with your storage solutions. Do you have space above your cabinets? Maybe add doors or use as open shelving. What about in your closet? Are you optimizing the space all the way up to the ceiling? Add more shelves or organizational bins or drawers! If you’re really dedicated to making more space and you have tall ceilings, you could even opt to have a loft bedroom or attic space built in!


If you’re short on cabinet and closet space no worries! Using decorative baskets and furniture with hidden compartments, like ottomans, can be both functional and beautiful! Storing extra blankets, linens, pillows, etc. this way can open space in your closets for larger items while still keeping them hidden. Purchasing a simple storage bench that could act as extra seating for guests could prove to be beneficial!

Get Clever

Find the nooks and crannies in your home that may seem like useless space and hang some floating shelves or add built in cabinets! Double up your office and turn it into a guest room too by installing a fold down desk that can be stored away when friends come to stay. Using hooks or a hanging organizer on the back of your bedroom door is the perfect solution to getting your shoes off the floor and put away. Combining these little hacks can add up and save you plenty of space!


And finally, the task that is sometimes the most dreaded. De-cluttering is a sure-fire way to earn yourself more storage space in your home. It doesn’t hurt to take time to go through your closets and get rid of items that no longer serve a purpose to you. Gather up all the extra clothing, toys, blankets, trinkets and anything else you’re ready to get rid of and donate to your local shelters or thrift store. Then, not only are you giving yourself more storage space but also contributing to your community!


To learn more tips like this visit the resource center on our website! https://firsthome.com/resources/


How to Handle Problem Neighbors

When on the hunt for your dream home, you can learn a lot about a home’s neighborhood but not necessarily much about the people you will be living around. Sometimes you end up in the perfect home only to find out your neighbors are not so perfect—or are even downright troublesome. What do you do when you have issues with your neighbors?

Make Sure You Are Not the One in the Wrong

It is time to set aside your ego and look at the situation objectively: is it possible you are the one in the wrong in this scenario? Maybe your neighbor filed a complaint about you; is it possible maybe your music really was too loud? Was your yard unkempt with too many weeds? Perhaps you really have exceeded the limits of your property and crossed over into theirs. While it might feel like your neighbor is out to get you, it is possible they are just trying to protect their own best interests and those of your other neighbors. If it turns out you are in the wrong, do what you can to sincerely apologize and show that you are taking strides to improve your behavior moving forward.

Always Put Your Best Foot Forward

You should always strive to be friendly—or at the very least polite—to all of your neighbors. The better you know your neighbors and the better your relationship with them is, the more likely you are to settle any conflicts that may arise cordially and peacefully. Try keeping the lines of communication open; let your neighbors know when you are going to have renovations done, throw a party, or do anything else that may be out of the ordinary, especially if it disrupts their routine or creates extra noise. Remember the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.

Talk to Your Neighbor About the Issue

Before you escalate and bring in a third party or formally file a complaint, try talking to your neighbor one on one first. Give them the benefit of the doubt; they may be unaware their behavior is disruptive or rude. Do your best not to be accusatory or heated. Maybe the situation can be chalked up to a simple misunderstanding. In many cases, you can resolve the problem after discussing it with your neighbor. Should they become defensive or angry, keep a level head and avoid fighting fire with fire. If they resort to insults or you feel threatened or unsafe, remove yourself from the situation.

Document the Problem

Be sure to document everything just in case you have to involve an outside party. Keep a record of all relevant times, dates, photos, and communications so you have proof should you need to escalate the issue. Conflict between neighbors can quickly turn into a battle of he-said-she-said and hearsay, so having concrete evidence can help you defend yourself and back up your claims.

Consult a Third Party When Necessary

In an ideal world, all neighborhood conflicts could be solved peacefully between neighbors, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes you need to bring in a third party to assist. Depending on the nature of the issue, this could be a homeowner association (HOA), a neighborhood organization, a municipal board, an outside mediator, or even local authorities. You may want to consult an attorney if you believe it is a legal issue.

Are you considering buying a new home? Contact one of our knowledgeable Loan Officers today to learn about your financing options!

What is eClosing?

As our world relies more and more on technology, there has been a shift in the mortgage world that has seen facets of the lending process go virtual, at least in part. This has especially been the case in the wake of COVID-19 where people are less likely to meet in person to conduct business. eClosings are an example of how mortgages have become increasingly virtual.

What is eClosing?

Electronic mortgage closing, or eClosing for short, utilizes a secure online portal on a computer or tablet for a borrower to sign all or a portion of their closing documents electronically. Closing itself is the settlement process of obtaining a mortgage where both the buyer and seller of a property review and sign documents in order to transfer ownership of said property and complete the loan. Traditionally, closing documents are physically signed with paper and ink but with eClosings, this doesn’t have to be the case. In many cases, some particularly important documents are still signed in-person, such as the deed of trust and promissory note, but if even one document is signed electronically, it is considered to be at least partially an eClosing.

Types of eClosing

There are two main types of eClosings: hybrid eClosing and full eClosing. Hybrid eClosing is arguably the most common type of eClosing, and the type we use here at First Home. Hybrid eClosing consists of a combination of “wet-ink” and electronic signatures and requires the borrower and notary public to meet in person. Full eClosing is when all closing documents are signed electronically. There are two main notary options when using full eClosing: in-person electronic notarization, or IPEN, and remote online notarization, or RON. IPEN requires the borrower and notary to meet in person but all closing documents are signed electronically. Alternatively, RON is when all documents are signed electronically and the borrower and notary meet virtually using video conferencing. RON is the most virtual of the eClosing options as it doesn’t require any face-to-face meetings or document signing. Laws regarding RON vary from state to state, with some prohibiting RON altogether, so it’s important to see what the requirements are in your state.

Pros and Cons of eClosing

There are both pros and cons to choosing eClosing. One pro is that it allows for greater scheduling flexibility and convenience as it cuts down on the time needed to meet in person or even eliminates it altogether. Another positive is that if document mistakes are detected, they can be remedied more quickly which helps avoid a slowdown of the closing process. There is also the benefit of closing paperwork generally being faster and cheaper when handled online. When it comes to cons, a big one is that it can be difficult for people who are less tech-savvy. Similarly, eClosing usually requires access to a computer or tablet and to a stable internet connection which not everyone has readily available. If someone is not tech-savvy or is skeptical of technology and hesitant to trust an online platform, eClosing may not be the best solution. However, if a borrower is busy or located out of state, has consistent access to technology, and is comfortable using a computer or tablet, eClosing can be an excellent option.

First Home’s hybrid eClosing offering is just another way we strive to make the mortgage process as convenient and smooth as possible for our borrowers. If you’re interested in buying a home and learning more about our hybrid eClosing, contact one of our knowledgeable Loan Officers today!

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

You’ve heard the terms pre-qualification and pre-approval, but what do they mean? They are the same thing, right? Not quite! The terms have been used interchangeably, but their true definitions differ. We’re going to break it down and explain the difference between the two.


The very first step to take if you are ready to start your new home search is to get pre-qualified. This is a no-cost, no-commitment, 10-20 minute analysis that will give you a great starting point for your new home loan. You can do this in-person or on the phone with a loan officer, or in most cases complete an online form. You will need to provide some basic information such as income, current monthly debts and credit score, but typically you won’t need to provide any documentation. By providing these items, your lender will be able to determine an estimate of your maximum monthly mortgage payment and how much you can borrow. These aren’t concrete numbers, more of a gauge so you know your price range.


Once you are pre-qualified, the next step will be to get pre-approved. This process is more involved, requiring more paperwork and the help of a loan officer. Documents you typically need to provide are copies of your paystubs, bank statements and tax returns; additional documents might needed as well. The loan officer will also pull your credit report to get a better understanding of your credit history and financial situation. Once your information has been reviewed, your loan officer will provide you a pre-approval letter stating how much you are approved to borrow. Having a pre-approval letter can give you a competitive edge against other buyers. This shows the seller you are serious and ready to buy.

You should refrain from making large purchases and incurring new debt at this time, as this can affect your pre-approval amount. Keep in mind getting pre-approved does not mean final approval. Once you put an offer on a home and the offer has been accepted, the loan will still need to go through processing and underwriting before final approval is granted.

Getting pre-approved will help speed up the home buying process since you will have a solid foundation of information. Once you are pre-approved, you are on your way to homeownership! Contact one of our loan officers to get started.

Steps on the journey to purchasing your dream home!

Get Pre-Qualified

Complete a loan pre-qualification – Contact one of our loan officers to get started!

Submit basic documentation – This can include pay stubs, bank statements, credit reports, and statements for any other debts or loans you might have. Your loan officer will let you know exactly what they need!

Discuss what you can afford – Your loan officer will discuss mortgage program options with you to find the best fit for your budget and situation. A monthly budget worksheet can be very helpful for this part of the process because it helps you to review your spending habits so you know how much money you’ll want to have leftover after your home bills each month.

Finalize pre-qualification – Your loan officer will put together a pre-qualification letter based on your loan choice so you can start shopping for a home!

Shop For a Home

Submit an offer using a pre-qualification letter – Home sellers almost always require a letter of pre-qualification from a lender along with the purchase offer from your realtor. If they accept your offer, you can move on to the next step!

Congrats! You ratified on the purchase of your new home – This means the seller has accepted your purchase offer in writing!

Begin the Loan Process

Activate your loan application – Your loan officer or loan processor will reach out to you to guide you through these steps.

Lock in your interest rate and order the appraisal – Locking your interest rate means that if rates go up prior to closing on your home, your rate stays the same. Your loan processor will schedule an appraiser to verify the current market value of the home you are going to purchase.

Sign loan disclosures and provide additional documentation as needed – Your loan processor will send you important disclosures with information about your loan to sign electronically and let you know if they need any additional documents from you to send over to one of our qualified underwriters.

Submit to underwriting – Your loan processor and loan officer will send all of the information on your loan choices, the home you are purchasing, and the documentation you have provided to our underwriters to finalize the approval of your loan.


Underwriter reviews loan and issues conditional approval – A conditional approval means your loan is approved so long as you provide any additional documents that they might need. There are not always conditions on approval at this point in the process, but it is not uncommon.

Provide documentation to satisfy conditions – Your loan officer, loan processor, and underwriter will work with you to obtain any additional documents needed for the final approval of your loan.

Loan is Approved

Loan is moved to our closing department – Your loan officer or loan processor will reach out to you to find out which title company you would like to use and schedule the closing. They will also send you a Closing Disclosure to review and sign three days prior to closing.

Cash to close amount is provided to you – This is the amount of money needed “at the table” (even though many closings are now electronic!) on the day of closing. This information will have been included in your Closing Disclosure.

Get a certified check or wire – Reach out to your bank to obtain a certified check or wire transfer for the amount needed for closing. Be aware of wire transfer fraud and confirm directly with your title company that the wiring information is accurate!

Settlement Day!

Sign your loan documents – This can now be done in person or remotely!

Get your house keys – Congratulations!! Once the paperwork is signed and completed you’ll receive your new house keys!

You’re a homeowner! All of your hard work has paid off and it’s time to enjoy your lovely new home.

If you have any questions about the process of purchasing or refinancing a home, including questions about low and no down payment options, reach out to one of our experienced Loan Officers today!

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