What to Know About Refinancing an ARM Loan to Fixed-Rate

If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage—commonly referred to as an ARM—you may be wondering when and if you should refinance to a fixed rate home loan. There are numerous factors you should consider when you think about refinancing, and even more to think about when it comes to making the switch from an ARM to a fixed rate mortgage.

What’s the Difference Between ARMs and Fixed Rate Mortgages?

Both of these loan options are quite self-explanatory when you consider their names. An adjustable-rate mortgage is just that, a mortgage with a rate that adjusts over time based on market conditions, while fixed rate mortgages have a stable, secured rate for the life of the loan.

Timing is Everything

When deciding whether to refinance any loan, you want to consider timing. The timing is largely dependent on your unique financial situation but also the state of market at large. A major factor to consider is your credit score; is it high enough to secure a desirable interest rate? If your credit score is lacking, you are likely better off waiting until it improves before refinancing. Luckily, your credit score is not set in stone and there are things you can do to improve it. Another aspect to think about is whether you will be able to afford the closing costs associated with a refinance. Will the benefits of a lower monthly payment will outweigh the price of having to pay closing costs? Depending on the decrease in your monthly payment, a refinance might not be the best option. You will of course also need to look at the market and what rates are. If you are going to end up with a higher rate, especially if it would be considerably so, you’ll likely want to hold off on pursuing a refinance. But if rates have been climbing, it may be better to refinance to the current rate in a fixed rate loan rather than risk having your rate continue to adjust higher and higher. Your best bet for determining whether now is a good time to refinance is to talk to a mortgage professional.

Think About Your Goals

At the end of the day, whether a refinance is in your best interest comes down to your specific situation and your goals. How long do you plan to stay in this home? If you are thinking about moving soon or before your rate changes, it is probably not worth refinancing.   Will you secure a substantially lower rate that will result in a lower payment?  That could still save you money during the time you are in this home despite paying closing costs. If you plan to stay in your home long-term, refinancing to a fixed rate loan can be a smart decision.  If current rates are low and you can secure that lower rate for the remaining life of your loan, that will eliminate the risk of fluctuating rates associated with an ARM.

If you are thinking about refinancing your mortgage, contact one of our knowledgeable Loan Officers today to discuss your options.

4 Financial Topics to Discuss Before You Get Married

Money is a touchy subject in many households. Getting married will certainly affect you and your partner financially. Whether you decide to combine your finances or not, having open and honest conversations about money early on is crucial. Studies have shown that 1 out of 3 adults admit that money is the source of conflict in their marriage, making money one of the leading causes of divorce. This doesn’t have to be the case! Taking the appropriate steps before walking down the aisle can save a lot of hardships in the future. Here are 4 financial topics to discuss with your partner:


Discussing income is a great place to start financial planning together. Your salaries may look different and come in different forms. Whether hourly, salary, or commission-based, discuss the details and share any expectations you may have for future bonuses or raises. When income from both sides is laid out it is easier to see what you will be working with each month.


Revealing debts can be awkward and sometimes shameful for some people. Whether you’ve gotten yourself into credit card debt or maybe you have student loans, don’t keep it from your partner. Keeping debts hidden will only result in future issues. Laying it out in the open also allows for collaboration. You and your partner can now work on a plan together to alleviate unwanted debts instead of just one of you carrying the burden.

Bank Accounts

Each of you may have multiple bank accounts used for multiple purposes. Whether you decide to combine your finances or not, revealing your bank accounts to each other leaves less room for secrets. Some couples choose to keep financing separate but have one joint account for household expenses and savings which could be a good compromise if there is a difference of opinions. Will you each split bills equally? Will each contribute a certain percentage of their income? Will everything go into one account and money pulled out as needed? These are important questions to ask. Discuss your expectations with each other and work on finding the best situation for your needs.


Budgeting is probably one of the most difficult aspects of financial harmony. Each person’s priorities and spending habits could greatly differ making it hard to find a good balance. Start by laying out all of your necessary bills for each month, i.e. mortgage payment, utilities, Wi-Fi, groceries, etc.  Once these are established, look at the remaining income for the month and determine the amounts that can be allowed for entertainment. This will look different for everyone, maybe you like to eat out at restaurants multiple times a month or maybe your partner has a gym membership to upkeep, whatever your lifestyle entails write it down and budget for it. The more detailed you can be the better. Don’t forget to budget for savings and emergency expenses as well!


Financial planning as a couple doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult. Use each other’s strengths and weaknesses to develop a system that works best for your household. If buying a home together is the next step in your relationship, reach out to us today to learn more and get started! For more resources, visit www.firsthome.com/resources.

5 Tips to Make the Most of End of Summer in Your Yard and Garden

The August heat has rolled in, and autumn is waiting just around the corner. That said, there’s still plenty of time left to enjoy your summer in your yard and garden!

1. Bring on the Shade

Rising temperatures and heat index in the month of August make shady spaces more important than ever. If you have large enough trees, set your conversation areas up beneath the boughs to take advantage of the natural shade. Patio and deck umbrellas, canopies, and even pop-up shady beach tents are quick ways to add some man-made shade in other areas of your yard and garden.


2. Stay Cool and Hydrated

In hot temperatures, water works wonders inside and out! We don’t all own swimming pools, but fortunately there are plenty of other great options. Large mist fans, or even handheld misters, can really cut the heat and help your friends and family feel comfortable. Baby pools can be a safe spot for children to play in or they can serve as a cool place for adults to rest their feet. Sprinklers are a fun option that can do double-duty with watering flower beds. Don’t forget to hydrate yourself as well! Providing lots of cold water and beverages for you and your guests to sip on is a sure way to beat the heat.


3. Be an Early Bird

Rise and shine to your outdoor space with coffee or tea before things really warm up for the day. A comfortable outdoor chair or small bistro set up is all you need! Speaking of birds, bird feeders and hummingbird feeders can lure lovely little friends to your yard, so you can watch them while you sip. Identifying bird types and their sounds can be a fun learning activity for friends and family to enjoy together, and all the information can be found right on your smart phone.


4. Make Magical Evenings Outdoors

When your days are busy or it’s just TOO hot, long summer evenings can be your best bet for enjoying outdoor time. Take advantage of the cooler weather and lingering light to dine alfresco, listen to music, or just to watch the fireflies. This is a time when lighting can really play a grand role in your outdoor space. String lights, solar garden lights, and soft solar lamps are a quick and easy way to make a statement and add warmth and charm. Citronella candles or a safe bug spray can help keep pests from becoming unwanted guests while you relax.


5. Get in Some Gardening

Autumn is an important time of year to tend to your garden! Gardening experts suggest swapping out faded annuals for new annuals that do well in the cooler fall weather. August is also a great time to plant perennials, so that they can take root in the upcoming cooler weather and be ready to burst forth next spring. Some good options to plant at the end of summer include hydrangeas, daylilies, lilies, sedums, ornamental grasses, peonies, and bearded iris. This month is also an important time to tackle weeds, so that they can’t germinate new seedlings, and mulch your garden so your plants are protected through fall and winter.

With these simple tips, you’ll be sure to enjoy your yard and garden at the end of summer and be ready to sail into fall.


If you or someone you know are looking to purchase or refinance a home, please reach out to one of our experienced Loan Officers today!

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