5 Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Making your home more energy efficient is not only good for the environment but also for your wallet. Small changes can make a big difference in your energy bill. Thankfully we live in a time where technology and innovation make changes much easier than in the past. We have the resources to live greener now let’s put it into practice. Here are 5 ways you can make your home more energy efficient!


Use Less Hot Water to Wash

Whenever possible, use warm or cold water when running your washing machine. Your machine uses a large percentage of energy just to heat the water so using less hot water in each load can add up and result in less energy and cost.


When not in use, it’s best to unplug small appliances such as toasters, kettles, coffee pots, etc. as well as, phone and laptop chargers. A smart power cord could also be a hands-free option. A smart power cord will sense when there is no object plugged in or if the object plugged in is not in use and will then cut the energy off until it is needed.

Replace Light Bulbs

Changing out light bulbs to LED bulbs will not only save you money on your energy bill but also will last longer. LED bulbs use up to 90% less energy and can last 15 times longer.  They also produce less heat and are made of sturdier material, making them an all-around safer option.

Lower thermostat

According to www.directenergy.com, setting your home to 78F in the summer and 68F in the winter are the optimal temperatures that will keep you comfortable while saving money. Additionally, during the spring and fall when temperatures are more likely to be naturally comfortable outside, opt to turn your system off altogether and open the windows for fresh air. Another thing to keep in mind, space heaters and air conditioning window units tend to eat up a lot of energy. Turning off and unplugging these units is not only saving energy, but also important for safety.

Lights Out

Habits like turning the light off as you leave a room and opening the blinds to use natural sunlight overtime will become second nature and could add up in big way when it comes to your energy bill. Investing in smart plugs could make this even easier by automating the process. There are many smart plug options out there that allow you to control right from your phone. This will allow you to control what’s on or off while you’re not even home!

Taking all, or even a few, of these simple steps can add up over time and won’t require much up front costs. For more home maintenance tips and tricks, visit our website at www.firsthome.com/resources!

Bridge Loan Program

Buying a new home is always a big undertaking, and the current seller’s market can make the process even more challenging. With limited inventory and frequent bidding wars, buyers can feel a natural uncertainty in landing the house you want. Selling your current home before finding your next one can be even more stressful, since you’ll have such a short time to act before your current home settles and you need to move.

For homeowner’s who have equity in their current property and are interested in moving, a Bridge Loan can offer a great solution to take the pressure off while house-hunting!

First Home Mortgage’s Bridge Loan Program offers a short-term loan used to “bridge” the gap between buying your next home and selling your current home, giving buyers the power to purchase a new home before selling their current property.

The benefits of this loan program include:

  • Allowing you to place a non-contingent offer on a home before selling your current residence. This is particularly important in today’s “seller’s market”, as it makes your offer more competitive.
  • Helping you gain funds for the down payment on your next home before selling your current home (a down payment of 20% or more allows you to avoid costly PMI).
  • Avoiding the anxiety of having to find a home to purchase in the short time period after your current home sells and before settlement. With housing inventory at historic lows, and many homes receiving multiple competitive offers, it can be difficult to find your next home in such a short time frame!

Important considerations if you’re interested in this program include:

  • The Minimum/maximum bridge loan amounts are $25,000/$300,000.
  • The Maximum bridge loan amount is dependent on the equity in the current home as determined by a standard appraisal.
  • The Bridge loan is secured on the current home and repayable when the home sells.
  • Your current home must be listed for sale or under contract at the time of loan generation.
  • This program is offered in conjunction with the mortgage loan on your next property.
  • Your departing residence must be located in CT, DE, DC, FL, MD, MA, NC, RI, or VA.

Make the most of the current market with this unique loan offer and reach out today for more information! https://firsthome.com/find-loan-officer/


Income restrictions, minimum credit scores, and other program requirements and qualifications may apply.

Tax Season is Here! Read Our Checklist to Prepare for Your Return

If you were like many Americans who purchased a home for the first-time last year, it’s important to understand how your taxes may be affected. Here is a quick checklist of things to think about as you prepare your return:

  • Mortgage interest. You could deduct the interest you paid on your monthly payment, if your mortgage debt is under $750,000.
  • Mortgage points. If you brought your mortgage interest rate down, you could deduct that cost from your first tax filing after your purchase.
  • Property taxes. Make sure you deduct your real estate taxes. You may be eligible to deduct a total of $10,000 in state and local property taxes if you are single, a head of household, or if you’re married and filing jointly. If you are married and filing separately, you can deduct up to $5,000.
  • Mortgage insurance payments. If you put less than 20% down on your home, you are most likely paying mortgage insurance. This amount is deductible too!
  • Home office space. A lot of people are working from home now, and if you have dedicated space to conduct business, you could deduct that square footage on your taxes.
  • Waived IRA fees. If you dip into your IRA account to help with your down payment, the IRS will waive the 10% penalty for removing money early. To receive this benefit, you can take out up to $10,000.
  • Energy-saving improvements. There are tax credits available if you install certain energy-efficient equipment in your home. If you’ve added energy-efficient insulation, doors, heating and air-conditioning systems, wood stoves, water heaters, etc., you could be eligible.

Before you submit your tax return, make sure you have all your documentation organized. Gather any tax documents you received from your mortgage lender, receipts for home improvements you completed, or details about donations you made during the last year.

You still have one month until the tax filing deadline. Don’t wait to get started in case your accountant or tax filing system needs additional information. If you have any questions about any of the tax deductions mentioned above or other incentives you may be eligible for, reach out to your loan officer and they can answer any questions you may have.

Tips for Moving with Pets

Your pets are important members of your family, and when you choose to move—be it across town or across the country—their needs should be factored in. There are a lot of considerations to make before, during, and after your move. Read on for some helpful tips regarding moving with pets.

Contact Your Vet

You’ll want to take your pet to the vet before a move to both ensure their health is in tip top shape or any conditions are being managed and to get their records and any prescriptions to take with you. You can also ask your vet for advice regarding moving and even see if they have any recommendations for a new vet in your area. If not, you should start looking for a new vet as soon as you can so your pet doesn’t go without care once you’ve made the move. If your pet has a microchip, you’ll also want to get your contact information updated, ideally before you leave (and if they don’t and simply wear a collar, you should update the information there instead).

Prepare and Plan for Moving Day Transportation

How exactly you transport your pets is largely dependent on how long the trip is and what method of transportation you are using. If you are flying, you’ll need to consult the specific airline you are using to find out their policies and regulations regarding traveling with pets. Sometimes you are able to carry your pet on board and other times, particularly with larger pets, they need to be stowed away. Having your pet stowed in cargo is not an ideal situation for them so if you can avoid it, you may want to. If not, strive to have as few transfers as possible. If you are driving, you have much more control over your pet. You’ll generally want to put your pet in a crate or carrier, depending on their size, and make sure they are secured. Some pets fare better with a towel or blanket covering the carrier so they feel more secure and aren’t overwhelmed by the changing environment. You’ll likely want to schedule breaks on your drive to let your pet out to use the bathroom, either outside for a dog or in a litter box for a cat. If you are letting your pet out of your car, make sure they are leashed the whole time. If it is a multi-day trip, make sure the hotel you plan to stay at is pet-friendly. If you are moving states, check out what regulations or laws your new state has, if any, regarding animals. You can do so through the Department of Agriculture.

Help Them Settle In

Getting accustomed to a new home can be a real adjustment for animals, and there are things you can do to help make it easier and so they don’t get overwhelmed. On move-in day specifically, there is generally a lot of coming and going and opening and closing of doors. Consider leaving your pet in a single room, a fenced-in backyard if you have one, or even board them off-site for the day. This can ensure they aren’t able to escape and are out of harm’s way while things are being moved. Once the dust starts to settle, it’s time for your pet to learn the lay of the land in their newfound environment. Try to keep their sense of normalcy as much as possible; if they are used to certain feeding and walking times, the more you can stick to them in your new home, the better. Do some research about what is and isn’t normal behavior for your kind of pet when adjusting to a new home. For example, it is not out of the ordinary for cats to hide and be withdrawn for a few days following a move. You can even restrict your kitty to just one room for a day or two before exposing them to the rest of your home, or even one room at a time, in order to ease them into it. Before long, though, your pet should start to feel more comfortable in your new home and be back to their usual temperament and behavior. You can also check out our tips for pet-proofing your new home.

If you’re ready to move somewhere new and buy a home, contact one of our experienced Loan Officers today to discuss your mortgage options!

5 Tips to Maximize the Aesthetic of Your Home This Spring

Spring is right around the corner which usually means it’s time to start thinking about the landscaping and gardening that needs to be done to maximize your curb appeal. You don’t need a big budget or a lot of time but making small changes can make a big difference. Here are 5 ways to add curb appeal and value to your home.

Update Lighting

Having at least a porch light is standard on most homes but adding additional lighting to accentuate certain features of your home is a great idea. For example, using solar lights, you can line your walkways, driveway, or garden beds. Solar lamps are quick and easy to install and require no electrical hookup. You can also think beyond ground lighting. Hanging LED string lights in your backyard around existing trees or your deck can create a casual vibe, perfect for hosting summer parties.

Mailbox Makeover

Your mailbox is typically front and center so why not spice it up? Painting your mailbox post black or white and then planting bright flowers around the base to add a pop of color will really draw the eyes of guests and passersby.

Accent Your Windows

Two ways to add curb appeal and character to your home are shutters and window boxes. You may already have shutters in which case maybe they just need a bit of love and coat of new paint. Adding new shutters may present as a bigger task but the result is worth it. In addition to shutters, you can add window box planters and fresh blooms to add color and life to the front of your home. If you’re handy, you can DIY your own boxes or purchase a ready-made option!

Front Door Update

Take some time to focus on the front door. Everyone coming to your home likely walks through the front door so giving it a facelift won’t go unnoticed. Painting it a bold contrasting color, adding a decorative door knocker or seasonal wreath, and swapping out the old hardware are all inexpensive options that will give your entry way a whole new look.

Lawn Maintenance

A little TLC to your yard can go a long way. As we come out of winter, it’s important to take time to pick up sticks or branches, rack any leaves left behind from fall and give your grass a good feeding to ensure it has a healthy start to spring. Adding fresh mulch to plant beds and trimming shrubs will be sure to give your yard a clean, fresh look!

Using these tips to get your home ready to sell? Check out more resources on our website www.firsthome.com!

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