Tips for Relocating

Whether you’re relocating to a new city or a different state, moving somewhere new can be a big adjustment. While it can be exciting, it can feel a bit daunting. Here are some things you can do to make the transition easier and put your best foot forward in a new place.

Research the Area

Whether you are moving somewhere you are already familiar with or somewhere brand new, you’ll want to do your due diligence in learning more about the area. Research things like the population, climate, crime statistics, culture, schools, and history of the new place you will be living. The more you know, the less drastic the adjustment will feel.

Budget for the Move

There are quite a few costs associated with relocating, especially if you are moving somewhere far from where you currently live. Be aware of potential expenses that may come up, such as hiring movers, lease termination fees if you are breaking your lease, utility closure and set up fees, and moving supplies. You’ll also want to consider any cost-of-living changes. Understand that if you are moving from a small town to a big city, goods and services may be more expensive. Be prepared for costs to be different when living somewhere new.

Get Help as Needed

Don’t feel like you have to do everything on your own (though you certainly can if you want to take a DIY approach). The extra cost of hiring cleaners, packers, or movers can be well worth it in the time and stress it can save you.

Make Arrangements and Adjustments

Don’t wait until you’ve actually moved to start updating your accounts. Set up a change of address with the post office so any mail sent to your old address gets forwarded to your new one. Update your shipping address in any of your online shopping accounts. If you take any prescriptions, make sure they are forwarded to a new pharmacy in your new city or town. And start researching new doctors and other healthcare practices if it is too far away to continue to see your current providers. The more prepared you are, the smoother the transition will be once you’re settling in somewhere new.

Consider Tax Implications

Moving can impact your taxes in several ways. Odds are many of the taxes you can expect to pay—such as property taxes, sales tax, income tax, etc.—will change after a move, especially if you are moving to a new state. Be aware of these new tax rates so you are prepared when it’s time to pay them, particularly if they are higher than what you are used to. Additionally, if you are moving to a new state, unless it is a state without income tax (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming), you will have to file state tax returns in both your new and old state for the tax year you are moving.

Find Ways to Get Involved

Moving to a new place can be scary, especially when it is far from your friends and family or you do not know anyone else living there. Look into ways you can get involved in your community, whether it’s through sports, social groups, or volunteering. This will help you meet people and get to know the area better. Before you know it, you’ll be able to hold your own among locals!

Are you considering making a move? Contact one of our experienced Loan Officers at First Home Mortgage to learn more about buying your dream home in a new area!

Protecting Your Home While Out of Town

Whether it is for business or pleasure, we all have to go out of town sometimes. As a homeowner, it is important that you take steps to safeguard your home and possessions while you are away. Doing what you can to protect your home before you leave and during the time you are gone will give you the peace of mind you need to focus on your trip. Here are some tips for keeping your home safe when you travel.

Remember the Basics

Lock all doors and windows. Make sure you have turned off or unplugged any non-essential electronics, especially anything that could be a fire hazard. Keep your valuables locked away or at least in a secured place. If you have a garage and are leaving a vehicle behind, park the car in the garage (which should also be locked). Make sure all smoke detectors and other alarms have fresh batteries.

Utilize a Security System

Using a security system is a great way to protect your home and family both when home and away. With so many advances in technology in the past decade, you don’t necessarily have to have a professionally installed and monitored system; many people utilize cameras and security systems that they can install and monitor themselves. If you do use a monitoring company, let them know you are going to be away. If you use a camera or system you control and monitor yourself, such as a Ring or SimpliSafe system, be sure to check in on things while you’re away. In either case, ensure you have properly set the alarm before you leave.

Take Advantage of Smart Home Technology

As previously mentioned, there are many options for cameras and security systems that you can check while on the go. Beyond that, there are other smart home devices that can come in handy when you are away. Set lighting timers to turn some lights on in the evenings so it appears someone is home. Control your thermostat while you are away; you generally want to keep your thermostat a bit warmer in the summer or cooler in the winter when you are away, but be mindful of any pets or house sitters still in the house so it isn’t too uncomfortable.

Have Someone You Trust Stop By

When you are going to be out of town, you should either get a house sitter or have someone you can trust drop in and check on your home. This is especially important if you have pets you are leaving behind, but should be done regardless to ensure your home is still secure and no issues need to be addressed. You should have someone bring in your mail so it doesn’t build up in your mailbox which can not only inconvenience your mail carrier but can also signal to people that no one is home. If you do not feel it is necessary to have someone check in, you may want to at least tell a neighbor you trust that you are going to be away so they know to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.

Take Care of the Outside

Make sure your lawn is mowed and there are not excessive weeds. If you are going to be away for an extended period of time, you should consider having someone mow your lawn while you are away. If your yard appears overgrown and unkempt, it can look as though no one has been living in your home. Do not leave any spare keys around your home. If you are going to have someone drop in, either give them the key directly beforehand or keep it in a secure lockbox which they can access. If you have outdoor lights, try using timers for them as well to keep the area well-lit as though you were home.

Reconsider Sharing on Social Media

As tempting as it can be, you might want to think twice before posting that you are away from home on social media during your trip, especially if your profiles are public. Showing that you are out of town can entice those with bad intentions to vandalize or break into your home because they know there is a good chance no one is home.

If you are interested in refinancing your home or buying a new home, contact one of our Loan Officers today to learn more about the mortgage process!

5 Common Home Buying Mistakes

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or seasoned house hunter, there are some commonly made mistakes you should know to avoid.

Not Determining How Much House You Can Afford

You should know how much your budget is before you start looking for houses. This will help you avoid wasting time looking at homes outside your price range and spare you the heartache that comes with getting attached to a home you can’t afford. An excellent way to determine your true budget is to talk with a lender and get prequalified. Prequalification is a review of your credit, income, and expenses and helps you nail down how much you can afford to spend.

Looking for a Home Before a Mortgage

It’s important to talk to a mortgage broker and get pre-qualified prior to searching for a home. Not only will prequalification tell you how much you can really afford so you don’t waste time seeking homes outside your price range, but it could be what stands between you getting into the home of your dreams or losing out on it. In competitive markets, you could lose out on a property if you aren’t already prequalified and someone else who wants it is. Prequalification shows the seller you are serious about buying and have your finances in order.

Using All Your Savings for a Down Payment

While spending your full savings to come up with enough for a sizable down payment may sound like a good idea in theory, it is not in practice. Many people try to pay the standard 20% down in order to avoid paying private mortgage insurance, or PMI, and will sometimes devote all of their savings to doing so. This is a risky and often unwise move as it leaves you without funds for any potential emergencies or unforeseen expenses that may come up. If you’re set on putting down a certain amount, you should try to wait until your savings exceed that amount so you aren’t left with nothing following your down payment.

Not Looking into Special Programs

When most of us think of mortgages, we think of the traditional 30-year conventional mortgage. While that is a great option for many, there are lots of loan options and programs available that may better suit you and your needs. For example, there are government loan programs you may qualify for depending on your circumstances. Many states also offer programs for first time homebuyers and other qualified individuals looking for homes that may help you attain homeownership easier. It’s important to talk to a mortgage professional about your background, finances, and goals in order to determine if you qualify for any special programs. If you don’t, you may be cheating yourself out of a mortgage or assistance program that would better benefit you.

Relying on Emotion Over Reason

There are times where going with your gut and following your heart are in your best interest, but when it comes to the home buying process, it’s important you not let emotion completely take over your decision making. Try not to become overly attached to a home you see; it’s a competitive market, and you don’t want to be left crushed if you’re unable to close on the home. Additionally, it’s essential that you keep your finances and goals in mind when choosing a home. You may fall in love with a home out of your budget, but it’s important to consider what spending more money might mean in the long run. Is it really worth buying that particular “dream” home if it means you’re barely getting by each month after your mortgage payment? Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases and decisions you’ll ever make, and it’s not one to be made in haste or based solely on feelings.

When you seek out the guidance of a seasoned Loan Officer, they can help you navigate the home buying process and avoid common missteps. Contact one of our experienced Loan Officers today to get started on the path towards homeownership.

What Is Mortgage Insurance?

Mortgage insurance protects the lender in the event the borrower defaults on the loan. Defaults include failure to make payments because of death, medical bills and job loss. Mortgage insurance can be provided by a private mortgage insurance company (PMI) or by a government agency such as FHA or VA.

How can I benefit from mortgage insurance on government-backed loans?

The FHA provides borrowers with the opportunity to purchase their home with a smaller down payment and/or lower credit score (compared to conventional loans) in return for the borrower paying mortgage insurance.

How do I pay for private mortgage insurance? Can this be added into my mortgage payment?

Yes! There are different types of mortgage insurance that allow you to pay in different ways.

Monthly

  • No upfront premium
  • Versatile and maximum flexibility
  • May be canceled
  • Paid with monthly mortgage payment

Single

  • Premium paid upfront
  • Refundable and nonrefundable options
  • Paid by borrower, seller, builder or 3rd party
  • May be financed into loan amount
  • Portion may be refundable when cancelled

Split

  • Upfront premium combined with lower monthly renewal
  • Upfront premium may be paid by borrower, 3rd party or financed
  • May be cancelled

Lender-Paid

  • Paid by lender or 3rd party
  • Cost paid via higher interest rate and/or fees

I see that a few of these private mortgage insurance options offer the opportunity to cancel.  How and when can I cancel?

You may ask your servicer to cancel the private mortgage insurance (PMI) once you have paid down the mortgage balance to 80% of the home’s original appraised value.  When the balance drops to 78%, the mortgage servicer is required to eliminate the PMI.

 Additional requirements to cancel mortgage insurance:

  • The borrower submits a written cancellation request
  • The borrower has a good payment history
  • The borrower is current with payments
  • The borrower satisfies any requirement of the mortgage holder, such as:
    • Evidence that the value of the property has not declined below the original value
    • Certification that the borrower’s equity in the property is not subject to a subordinate lien

If you like to learn more about Mortgage Insurance or how to cancel, contact one of our Loan Officers today!

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