New Conforming Loan Limits Are Here!

The results are in, and they could have an impact on your home buying journey. Effective today, homebuyers may now borrow up to $726,200 in most counties and up to $1,089,300 in higher-cost areas!

The limit on conforming loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is assessed annually. In September, First Home Mortgage responded to a challenging market by updating the conforming loan limit to $715,000 in most counties and allowing qualified homebuyers the opportunity to borrow above the limit while still enjoying the efficiencies of a conforming loan. Today’s announcement pushes that limit even higher to $726,200 for most borrowers.

This news follows the 2021 increase to $548,250 and the 2022 update up to $647,000. Taken together, this represents a 32% increase in just two years. Click here to see how your county compares to the surrounding region — and, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our qualified loan officers with any questions!

Author: James Baublitz, VP of Capital Markets

Home Inspection: Factors to Keep in Mind when Buying a Home

Home Inspections help buyers to identify any major issues with a home before closing. An inspector will evaluate the property and write up a list of major and minor repairs that need to be made. Without any penalties as a buyer, you are able to walk away from the purchase offer if there are major defects found with the home. This is ideal for any buyer that doesn’t want the burden of high-cost fixes after closing. Here are some things to keep in mind when purchasing a home.  

  • Home inspection contingencies. A home inspection contingency gives buyers the opportunity to hire a professional home inspector of their choice to point out any issues with the home, both major and minor. With this contingency in place, buyers can walk away from the purchase offer if they choose to. 
  • Financing. Keep in mind many lenders will not finance a loan without a home inspection.  
  • Home inspections can find life-threatening problems like mold or faulty wiring, which could cause a fire.  
  • Inspectors will examine the exterior and interior parts of the home, including but not limited to electrical, plumbing, roof, HVAC, and foundation.  
  • You can negotiate! Home inspection results are a great way to negotiate if you want the home but don’t want to be stuck with all the fixes. Negotiating through the seller fixing some items or shaving off money from the offer could help with the list of issues that arise.  
  • Buyers will typically have a window of time after the home inspection is completed to terminate the purchase and sales agreement or negotiate if they choose.  

Are you interested in purchasing a home and have questions? Reach out to a qualified loan officer today to learn more!  

Introducing First Home Advantage

We’re excited to announce the launch of our new First Home Advantage program! We couldn’t be more excited about this chance to provide exceptional service to first-time homebuyers — this new program is an opportunity to level the playing field for those who may have been overlooked in the past due to issues with their credit score. 

Under the First Home Advantage program, eligible first-time homeowners will see substantial reductions in offered rates. Borrower eligibility is based upon both their annual income and geography, with different income limits in specific counties. In certain high-cost regions, annual incomes as high as $168,600 are eligible for this program. 

This new program builds upon First Home Mortgage’s commitment to delivering exceptional service to all potential borrowers, especially those engaging in the process for the first time. Despite a substantial increase in prevailing mortgage rates in 2022, over 40% of loans originated by First Home Mortgage have been to first-time homeowners. With the launch of the First Home Advantage program, you’re one step closer to your first home! 

Even as home prices continue to increase, First Home Mortgage is still able to offer competitive rates to borrowers like you, thanks to the new First Home Advantage program. While the current market presents a challenge, our loan officers can safely guide buyers through the process with confidence and ease. If you’re in the market to buy a home, get in touch with the experts at First Home Mortgage — let’s see if you’re eligible so we can help get you home! 

What Today’s Announcement from the Federal Reserve Means for You

The Federal Reserve remains dedicated to reducing inflation. With inflation remaining higher than we’d all prefer, the Fed just increased rates by another .75% — but what does that mean for you?

The Federal Reserve’s goal is to maximize employment and promote price stability in the economy. When unemployment rates are low and inflation is high, the Fed is focused on the price stability side of their mandate. When the economy heats up and inflation rises, the Fed tries to slow things down by increasing the cost of borrowing money. That is why they are continuing to raise short-term rates: they are attempting to slow the price increases we are seeing in food, energy, and other daily expenses.

Mortgage rates are not directly controlled by the Federal Reserve. Said simply, mortgage rates did not increase .75% with today’s announcement. However, investors often look to the Fed Funds rate as a bellwether for the overall rate environment. When rates are increasing, investors look for higher rates in mortgages, too.

Investors don’t just look at what the Federal Reserve does today; they also look at how their actions projects to the future. With a forward-looking view, investors can make educated guesses about future rates that influence the rates they are willing to provide today. Accordingly, investors often focus even more on what Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell says in his press conference — not just in what is written in the official statement.

Markets are dynamic, and events like today’s FOMC statement can impact the rates offered to borrowers like you. If you’re in the market to buy a home, stay in touch with the experts at First Home Mortgage who can help keep you informed as we navigate this challenging market together!

 

Author: James Baublitz | VP, Capital Markets

BREAKING NEWS: First Home Mortgage Offering New Conforming Loan Limits!

It’s no secret that home prices are increasing nationwide. There is good news, however, the amount you can borrow is increasing, too!

Every year Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac evaluate the conforming loan limit, which can differ from county to county. In 2021, for example, the maximum conforming loan amount in most counties increased from $548,250 to $647,200 – an increase of roughly 18%. This annual evaluation, which often results in an increase, typically takes place in late November.

With home prices continuing to increase First Home Mortgage is getting ahead of the curve and is delivering a significant increase to the conforming loan limit now. Effective today, First Home Mortgage is now allowing for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans up to $715,000, an increase of more than 10%.

 

Contact us or one of our qualified Loan Officers to learn more!

Author: James Baublitz, VP Capital Markets

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:

Income

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.

Debt

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.

Budget

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!

Extended Rate Lock: Lock Your Rate in Early and Relax!

What is an Extended Rate Lock?

An extended rate lock is a mortgage loan option that allows home purchasers to “lock” in today’s interest rate and guard themselves from the added cost of rising rates before they settle on their new home. A lower interest rate translates into a lower monthly payment, making extended rate locks particularly valuable in a market where rates continue to rise.

First Home Mortgage’s program offers the upfront safety of a locked interest rate for up to 350 days while you wait to settle on your new home!

Who Can Benefit from an Extended Rate Lock?

This is a particularly valuable tool for homes that are under construction. Extended locks secure your interest rate and protect you from the potential of paying a higher rate at the time the home is completed.

What Are Your LOCK OPTIONS?

Fixed Rate Loans: Lock in interest rates for 110-350 days!*

ARM Loans: Lock in interest rates for 110-170 days!*

*Non-refundable up-front lock fee applies. Fee percentage varies based on loan type and length of rate lock.

Want to Learn More?

If you think this program might be right for you, please reach out to one of our experienced Loan Officers today! We’re here to answer all your questions and help you select the best possible loan option to suit your needs!

Tips for Buying a Home in a Different State

Buying a home can be a daunting task but buying in a different state can bring a higher level of stress and more of the unknown. We have compiled a list of tips and tricks to help make your buying and moving processes as seamless as possible.

Make Sure You Do Your Research on Real Estate Agents

When you’re buying out of state, you might not be able to go see every property in person. This means you will need to rely more heavily on your agent to be your eyes and ears. If you’re moving to an area where you may already have friends or family, reach out to them for recommendations. If you don’t have anyone to recommend an agent to you, take a look at the top agent lists from the area. This will give you a good idea of who the people in the area already trust with their business. Check out how long they’ve been in business, the areas they specialize in, and, of course, client reviews!

Be Aware of Scammers

Buying out of state will unfortunately open you to being more likely taken advantage of or scammed. A common scam involves the scammer creating a fake listing using real or stolen photos of a property. The goal is for the listing to be too good to be true, encouraging you to reach out and send them money or begin bidding on the home. It is vital to pay close attention to listings and make sure they are listed by reputable agencies or by the actual homeowner.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Stupid Questions

Real estate law and best practices vary from state to state. Doing your own research is a good place to start but never be afraid to ask your agent further questions. Buying a home is a big investment and while it can be a very exciting time in your life, you want to make sure you cover all your bases and are fully aware of the requirements each state may have.

Try to Be Present for the Inspection

The inspection is an important part of the home buying process. If it’s possible for you to travel during the process, this would be the time. The inspection will lay out any present or potential issues your home has. Inspectors will take photos for reference but being there in person can give you a better idea of what you’re moving into and as an added plus, inspectors will usually take the time to show you basic home maintenance while doing their inspection.

If you’re looking to buy, check out our website to find a complete list of states we are licensed in and reach out to a Loan Officer today!

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