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!

Home Trend Do’s and Don’ts

Home decorating trends are constantly changing and it is hard to keep up with every new fad that emerges. Floral prints may be popping up everywhere now and those bright-colored kitchen appliances may not stand the test of time. So, which trends should you follow and which should you leave behind? The lists below showcase a few timeless home trends that will never go out of style and a few short-lived trends that may only be popular for a short period of time. So, which trends will you risk it for? Or will you stick with timeless, classic design choices?

Timeless Classics

Neutral paint colors. It is always a safe bet to choose a neutral color palette for your home. Neutral wall colors and floors will allow you to decorate more boldly and add personality to each room. You can incorporate trendy pieces into the room without going overboard, and you can easily switch it out for something new once you no longer love it. A neutral setting with bold accents is always a good choice.

Clawfoot tub. Relaxation, elegance, and luxury are what come to mind when you hear this term, and those are some reasons the clawfoot tub hasn’t gone out of style. This type of bathtub has a classic design and will fit with any type of décor, making it a lasting piece in your home.

Open concept. An open concept living space has become increasingly popular over the last decade or so, and it seems to have staying power; more homebuyers are searching for homes that give an open floor plan. This type of floor plan can make a small space feel larger, and it is also a convenient layout for entertaining.

Subway Tile. If you are renovating now and want to make decisions that you will still love in 5 or 10 years, subway tiles are likely to be that. With its clean, fresh look it is a timeless option. No matter what style of cabinets or colors on the wall, subway tile is likely to always match. If you wanted a spin on this classic you could arrange the tiles in a basket weave or herringbone pattern!

Short-Lived

Statement floors. Gone are the days of “Plain-Jane” beige carpet and simple hardwood floors. A new trend has recently emerged and it is daring! Statement floors have become popular in the last few years, and for good reason; they can add adventure and a fun twist to any room. Unfortunately, a bold floor doesn’t work for everyone, so try not to get swept up in this trend.

Velvet furnishings. Another trend that screams luxury and comfort, but like so many other home design fads, this one likely will not last. Household items such as couches and curtains have followed the velvet craze, but have started to vanish recently. Fashion and style are big components of this trend, but opting for a more traditional look may save you from a design faux-pas.

Bold Wallpaper. It is everywhere these days! Flip through a home design magazine or scroll through Pinterest and you will see bright, bold wallpaper. It can add so much drama and excitement to a space, but if it is overdone, it can be overwhelming. While this trend can be a thrilling addition to your home, it’s best to stick with neutral colors since some prints and colors will go out of style soon.

Peel and Stick. In theory, this quick and easy design choice seems like a great solution. Maybe you want new countertops, backsplash, or tile – there’s a peel and stick for that! However, in the long run, you may find that this cheap fix may not stand the test of time. Over time, corners may begin to pop up and the heat from appliances may cause the adhesive to loosen.

Decorating your home can be a lot of fun, and a lot of work. There is no need to rush redecorating when the next big trend surfaces, so are sure to take your time and only include items in your home that work for you. Just because something is on-trend doesn’t mean it’s your style! You can only make your house a home if it is filled with the things you love.

Are you looking to purchase a new home or refinance your current home? Reach out to one of our skilled loan officers in your area today!

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!

Disguise

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!

De-clutter

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/

 

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.

Pre-qualification

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.

Pre-approval

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.

A Q&A with Our Loan Officers on How COVID-19 is Impacting the Mortgage Industry

Now more than ever, we are living in uncertain and challenging times. COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work and play. To get a better understanding of how this pandemic has affected the mortgage industry, we interviewed a few of our Loan Officers from different regions including Heather Devoto from McLean, VA, Anne Borghesani from Plymouth, MA, and John Dolbec from Warwick, RI. Here’s what they had to say:

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced during this pandemic?

Across the board, teleworking has been an adjustment because of the lack of face-to-face communication, interruptions from kids at home, and difficulty of training new employees. However, technology has made things easier because anyone can jump on a video conference call and quickly address any questions or concerns in a timely manner.

What advice would you give someone looking to purchase a home during this time?

If you are ready to buy or refinance, rates are low and it is a great opportunity to take advantage of that if you can. If you are not quite ready yet, it’s never too early to know where you stand in terms of qualifying to buy a home.

Are there any positive things you’ve seen during this time?

The mindset about virtual technology and video conferencing has certainly changed for the better; people are much more comfortable logging into software applications like Zoom and Skype. Also, as a society, we are realizing that we can carry on with “business as usual” despite not being in an office environment. And for a lot of people, working from home has enabled them to spend more time with family.

How has the home buying process changed during COVID-19?

Buyers can now make offers sight unseen. We’ve seen most home sellers will not accept buyers without a pre-approval letter. Financing has become more creative using drive-by appraisals, title companies are now doing remote closings for convenience, and Open Houses require appointments, masks, booties, and hand sanitizer.

How have you and/or First Home Mortgage adjusted and adapted during this time?

We’re adjusting well and every member of our team has worked hard to take action to keep coworkers and clients as safe as possible. Our offices have come together working harder than ever. We’ve implemented new procedures to increase our levels of customer service.

Are there any other tips you’d like to give to potential homebuyers?

The market is competitive, and you want to be able to move fast! Spend the extra time, in the beginning, to educate yourself about the intricacies of buying a home so you can be confident and make smart home-buying decisions. Once you are ready, talk to a loan officer to get the ball rolling on qualifying instead of looking online at homes you may or may not be able to afford.

Are you looking to buy a home or refinance? Please contact one of our loan officers today!

5 Ways to Staycation at Your Home This Summer

While many areas of the country have begun reopening, we are still living in a pandemic and the CDC recommends distancing to take priority. Sadly, this means many of our summer vacations have been put on hold. But after months of being cooped up, you may be looking for ways to change up the scenery and “staycation.” Here are 5 ways to staycation in your own home and neighborhood.

  1. Backyard Camping

Build a tent, make a fire, roast some s’mores! Get out into the night air in your own backyard and sleep under the stars.

  1. Swap Rooms or Rearrange the Furniture

Painting or home renovations may not be in your budget or a commitment you’re ready to make. Instead of a change of scenery, rearrange the furniture, sleep in the guest room, and let the kids swap rooms for the night! Order “room service” by having take-out delivered, hop in your pajamas, and binge-watch your favorite show.

  1. Turn your backyard into an oasis

Adding some summer elements to your backyard will be sure to shake things up and give you the vacation vibes you’re looking for. Some more costly ideas could be adding in a pool, volleyball net, or built-in grill and bar area. If you’re looking for ideas on a budget you could opt for an inflatable pool or slip and slide for the kids, a fire pit, or a new set of bistro tables and chairs. Adding some of these may even add value to your home!

  1. Have a theme night

With technology these days you can have the world at your fingertips! Plan each night for a week to be a different theme, whether that be riding virtual rides at Disney World online or taking an online cooking class and then flying over Paris via Google Maps. Get the family involved and assign each member a night to plan. The options are endless!

  1. Enjoy nature

Even with social distancing guidelines in place, we are still encouraged to safely get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Do some research in your town or community and take up some outdoor activities you’ve never tried. Whether that is learning a new sport the family came to play together or finding a new hiking trail you haven’t tried!

Be sure to check out more blogs and resources on our website HERE!

Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/clever-ways-to-create-a-stellar-staycation-at-home/

First Home Mortgage Named a Top Mortgage Lender

The results are in! First Home Mortgage has been named one of Scotsman Guide’s Top Lenders of 2019! Scotsman Guide provides comprehensive and verified rankings of mortgage companies across the nation. We are honored to be recognized as a Top Mortgage Lender and we thank our clients and partners for assisting us in achieving this huge accomplishment!

Not only was First Home Mortgage recognized as a company, but many of our Loan Officers were named Scotsman Guide’s Top Originators.

Matt Nader

Ryan Paquin

Jake Ryon

Scott Story

Jason Nader

Heather Devoto

Alex Jaffe

Tammi Lewis

Ayaz Rahemanji

Todd Pede

Jeff Stempler

Gabe Tuvek

David Toaff

James Moran

Kari Story

Ann Flaherty

Mike Taylor

Mike Nadeau

Mike Archer

Anne Borghesani

Santana Brown

Tom Cumpston

Jeff Halbert

Bill Payne

Darren Rickwood

Tim Sisson

Daniel Tinnin

Congratulations to all! Reach out to a loan officer in your area today!

Mortgage Calculators

Here at First Home Mortgage, we strive to deliver excellent customer service from the start. We provide tools and resources to better prepare you for purchasing or refinancing your home. Whether you’re buying a home for the first time, you’ve purchased before, or you are refinancing, you will have questions and concerns. “What will my mortgage payment be?”, “How do I know it’s a good time to refinance?”, “What can I afford?” – these are all very important questions that will be the basis of your journey. With these questions in mind, we have provided 9 different mortgage calculators to help you get started!

Mortgage Calculator #1: Mortgage Payment

Repayment of a mortgage loan requires the borrower to make a monthly payment back to the lender. That monthly payment includes both repayment of the loan principal, plus monthly interest on the outstanding balance.

Mortgage Calculator #2: Proceeds from Sale of a Home

How much profit will you make if you sell your home? This is largely dependent on two things: the amount you still owe on the home and what you will have to pay for selling the home.

Mortgage Calculator #3: Compare Two Mortgage Loans

When purchasing a home, the mortgage you choose and the options you want with it will have a significant impact on how much your home costs you in the long run.

Mortgage Calculator #4: Time to Refinance?

The decision to refinance a home mortgage can involve many factors. You might want to take cash out of your home and apply it elsewhere or obtain a lower rate to lower your monthly payments.

Mortgage Calculator #5: Debt to Income Calculator

Your DTI is the percentage of your gross income used to cover your mortgage and other debt payments. This ratio and your credit score are two key factors used to determine if you qualify for a loan.

Mortgage Calculator #6: Rent vs Buy

Deciding whether to rent or buy relies on many factors. Take into consideration the difference in monthly rent vs. mortgage payment, home value, rent increases, interest rate, and taxes to name a few.

Mortgage Calculator #7: Home Affordability

Your ability to obtain a loan for a new home purchase is based on several aspects. Lenders typically focus on three key ratios: Loan-to-Value ratio, Housing Ratio, and Debt-to-Income ratio.

Mortgage Calculator #8: Adjustable Rate Mortgage Analyzer

ARMs typically offer home buyers the advantage of having a lower mortgage payment during the initial period of the mortgage. Once the initial period expires, the rate will reset at current interest rate levels.

Mortgage Calculator #9: Compare a Bi-Weekly Mortgage to a Monthly Mortgage

One popular strategy for accelerating the payoff of a loan is to make ‘Bi-Weekly’ payments. Under a Bi-Weekly mortgage plan, you will make payments to your lender every two weeks instead of monthly.

While we consider these mortgage loan calculators to be very helpful and educational, everyone’s personal situation varies, and reaching out to one of our Loan Officers will give you a more accurate sense of what you would be facing! Find a Loan Officer in your area today!

Home Buying Lingo You Need to Know

The home-buying industry is full of acronyms. It can be hard to keep up, so we’re here to help! Learn the lingo before going through the home buying process so you sound like a pro. Here are some of the most important acronyms you need to know:

APR (Annual Percentage Rate): The APR is simply the interest rate you pay on a loan annually. Basically, it is the cost of borrowing money from a financial institution.

ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage): An ARM is a mortgage with an interest that can increase or decrease depending on various factors. Adjustable-rate mortgages often begin with low-interest rates, even below market rate sometimes, but the rate does increase or decrease based on a standard financial index set by the Federal Reserve or the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR).

CD (Closing Disclosure): The Closing Disclosure is a 5-page form provided to you by your lender usually 3 days prior to closing. The final terms and costs of your mortgage are outlined in the CD. This document is very important to review thoroughly so there are no surprises at closing.

DTI (Debt-to-Income) ratio: The debt-to-income ratio compares your monthly gross income to your monthly debt payments. Simply put, lenders look at the percentage of your monthly gross income that is paid towards your debt payments every month.

FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation): FICO is the first company to offer a credit risk model represented by a score. The credit score model FICO is still the primary method to determine your creditworthiness.

FHA (Federal Housing Administration): FHA is a government agency that sets standards for construction and underwriting. The FHA insures loans made by private lenders and banks for home building.

LE (Loan Estimate): A Loan Estimate is a 3-page document provided at the beginning of the home loan process that provides an estimate of the costs you can expect. This breakdown will include costs such as closing fees, interest rate, and your loan amount.

LOX (Letter of Explanation): This is a letter written by you to address or explain anything in your employment or financial documents that may be a cause for concern. This could include sudden or unusual activity in your credit report or bank statements.

LTV (Loan-to-Value) ratio: The LTV ratio is used to determine the risk factor for a lender taking on a loan. The LTV ratio measures the loan amount compared to the market value of the asset.

PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance): This acronym represents the sum components that equal your monthly mortgage payment.

PMI (Personal Mortgage Insurance): Personal mortgage insurance is a type of insurance that you may be required to purchase if you have a conventional loan. PMI is usually required when your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price. PMI is used to protect the lender in the event you stop making your mortgage payments.

POC (Paid Outside of Closing): Any fee or payment that will need to be paid outside of the normal fees due at the time of closing a loan. Appraisal fees, for example, are due at the time of service and would need to be paid before closing.

Do you have any follow-up questions to the above acronyms or would you like our loan officers to walk you through the homebuying process? Contact one of our loan officers today!

Four Signs You Should Refinance Your Mortgage

With mortgage rates still hovering around all-time lows, it might be a good time to consider refinancing your mortgage to snag a lower rate. Refinancing can reduce your monthly payment and total interest costs. Even if your home loan is as recent as last year, it still may be worth replacing. Here are 4 signs it’s time to refinance!

Your current rate is over 4%

Freddie Mac’s weekly survey revealed that last month’s average rate for a 30-year mortgage was holding at 3.29%. Last year, the typical rate was falling around 4.1% for the same 30-year mortgage. A study recently done by LendingTree has discovered that borrowers that refinanced a home loan taken out in early 2019 can save $60 a month for every $100,000 borrowed. Over the life of the loan that added up to almost $20,000 in interest savings!

Your credit is in good shape

It is no secret that the better your credit score, the better chance you have on landing a low interest rate. Credit scores can range anywhere between 300 to 850 with 800 and higher considered “exceptional” and 740-799 considered “very good.” If your credit score falls in the exceptional or very good range, you are in a better position to refinance and get a lower rate.

However, if your credit score could use some improvement, here are some quick tips:

  • Pay off credit card debt and lower your credit utilization (this is the percentage of available credit you’re using).
  • Don’t close old credit cards you’re not using. As long as you’re not being charged annual fees, this can help lower your credit utilization which will in turn raise your credit score!
  • Check for errors on your credit reports. If any errors are found, alert the credit bureau so that the issue can be resolved and removed from your reports.

Cash out your equity

A cash out refinance may be right for you if you are ready to cash out on built up equity on the home. Homeowners choose to cash out in order to pay for education, additional home improvements, eliminate other debt, or start a new business. However, if you choose a cash-out refinance it is important that you can keep up with the payments in the event the home improvements do not add value, or the new business fails.

You plan to stay in your home for a long time

Due to closing costs, it can take months or in some cases years to break even and begin the actual savings. If you are moving or selling soon, refinancing may not be a great idea. But if you plan to stay in your home, a refinance can truly save you money in the long run.

Get in touch with a Loan Officer today to find out if refinancing is right for you!

 

 

Source: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/5-signs-refinance-mortgage-now-182906584.html

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