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!

Jumbo Arm Loans – Secure a Low Initial Interest Rate on Loan Amounts Up to $3m!

What is an ARM Loan?

When securing home financing, some borrowers wonder whether to choose a fixed-rate or an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). An ARM is a home loan with an interest rate that adjusts over time to reflect market conditions. With hybrid ARMs, borrowers may access a below-market rate for a fixed term (normally 3-10 years) before their first rate adjustment. In general, the shorter the initial period, the more favorable the introductory rate offered. After the initial fixed period, the interest rate is either raised or lowered  depending on the index rate. While many mortgage shoppers choose a fixed-rate loan because of its stability, there are many pros to an ARM loan.

Why Choose an ARM?

Important potential advantages and possibilities to consider with an ARM for the right homeowner or homebuyer include:

  • A comparatively lower rate when you purchase or refinance, fixed for the entirety of the introductory period (normally 3-10 years)
  • Use your current home equity to get cash through a cash-out refinance while still maintaining a low monthly payment
  • Afford a new or larger home with a lower initial payment
  • Pay less for your mortgage in a home you plan to stay in long term

It’s important to note that you can always consider refinancing into a fixed-rate mortgage once the initial period ends.

How Can We Help?

First Home Mortgage offers a Jumbo Arm Loan, providing the opportunity of a lower initial interest rate for loan amounts well over conventional loan limits.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) ARM offers a fixed rate period followed by semi-annual adjustments to the interest rate. Our latest product offers 5 year/6months, 7 year/6 months and 10 year/6 months options.

This valuable loan option is available for purchase and cash-out refinance loan amounts up to $3 million dollars! This means qualifying borrowers may have the opportunity to secure a below-market fixed rate for 5, 7 or even 10 years!

 

If you or someone you know are interested in purchasing or refinancing a home, please reach out to one of our experienced Loan Officers today to discuss your best options!

4 Signs It’s Time to Sell Your Home

Selling your home may be something you’ve been considering for a while or maybe an event has occurred that has prompted you to sell. Either way, listing your home is a big decision and if you’re wondering if now is a good time, take a look at these signs and decide for yourself.

It’s a Seller’s Market

This may be an obvious reason in today’s market but being in a seller’s market means you could stand to make a nice profit on your home. Pay attention to what other homes in your neighborhood are going for and see if the price of square footage is increasing. This could be a good indicator of what your home could go for. Getting in contact with a good real estate agent that can help guide you and assist you in getting a good deal is also an important step!

You’ve Outgrown Your Home

A common reason for moving is simply that your home no longer provides the space you need. Whether your family is growing, or you need more storage, selling may be the only solution. These situations can cause you unwanted stress so listing sooner rather than later might be best for you!

You Have Equity in Your Home

A good reminder here is that selling your home is not free, however the equity that has accrued since purchasing your home will be useful when selling.  There are closing costs, agent fees, and of course, the down payment on the purchase of your next home. If you’ve only been in your home for a few years, chances are good you haven’t built up equity beyond the down payment. Unless there is an immediate need to move, staying in your home for at least 5 years could allow for more equity to accrue before selling.

Your Life Circumstances Have Shifted

Inheriting a property, divorce, death, and needing to relocate are all potential life events that can place you in a position to sell as soon as possible. These sudden life changes can put pressure on you but it’s important to still take the time to research your local market and the area you plan to move to before jumping in.

For more information or resources, reach out to one of our qualified Loan Officers today!

Understanding the Increase in Homeowners Insurance Premiums

Have you noticed an increase in your homeowner’s insurance premiums lately—maybe significantly? If so, you are not alone. There are a number of factors that impact how high or low insurance premiums are, and there are several currently at play which have contributed to a recent rise for many homeowners.

What Drives the Increase in Homeowners Insurance Premiums?

In general, the two primary factors that impact homeowners insurance: insurance rates and inflation. There are numerous things that affect each of these factors themselves, and each of them influence insurance premiums to varying degrees. Overall, when insurance rates and inflation go up, so do homeowners insurance premiums.

How Are Insurance Rates Factored and How Do They Impact Premiums?

Homeowners insurance rates are largely connected to the frequency and severity of severe weather. This, of course, means that rates often vary from state to state as the kind of severe weather experiences from one place to another can differ considerably. The more serious and recurrent storms and other weather-related events are, the more reinsurance—which is insurance for insurance companies—rises, making it more expensive for insurers to offer insurance. These increased costs are passed onto consumers by way of higher premiums.

What Impact Does Inflation Have on Insurance Premiums?

You’re probably well aware of the recent increase in inflation as it has impacted the cost of all sorts of goods and services, but how does inflation affect insurance premiums? Not only is the overall rate of inflation notably higher than average, but the rate of inflation for building labor and material costs has spiked even higher, meaning it is more expensive to rebuild homes. Since repairing and rebuilding homes now costs more, insurance companies have to compensate for those increases by upping premiums.

What Does It All Mean?

Insurance premiums are up nearly across the board due to heightened costs for insurance companies resulting from more severe and frequent weather events and increasing inflation. That said, these factors are not going to rise at the same rate nationwide, so the level at which you experience an increase largely varies on where your home is located. The bottom line is homeowners insurance premiums must go up in order to ensure you are fully protected and covered in the case of a total loss. While it can be frustrating to experience higher insurance rates, it is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things should something happen to your home; it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you are interested in buying a new home or refinancing your current home, contact one of our experienced Loan Officers today to learn more about your mortgage options.

How to Choose a Home That Will Appreciate

The potential for appreciation is an important factor to consider when choosing a home to purchase. Appreciation is when the value of your home increases over time. There are many factors that contribute to home value appreciation; some of them are out of your control, but there are some that you can control or predict the impact of to a certain extent. Here are some things to think about when choosing a home that may lead to better outcomes with regards to appreciation.

Find a Valuable Property

The value of the land your home sits on certainly plays a role in determining its value. The appreciation of land is generally influenced by fewer factors than that of the buildings housed on it, so going with a home that is on a valuable piece of land can help ensure its value will remain consistent or, ideally, rise regardless of the state of the structure on it.

Location, Location, Location

This old saying hasn’t become a staple of real estate for no reason; location really does play a massive role in the desirability and, by extension, value of a home. This is particularly important to consider when selecting a home to buy because while you can change a lot about the home, you simply cannot change its location. Of course, it can be hard to nail down what exactly makes a location great. There are a whole host of factors, but some of the more notable ones are the proximity to desirable features (parks, shopping, restaurants, etc.), the quality of the school district, a quick (or at least reasonable) commute to a city, and if it is considered an “up and coming” neighborhood. You may also want to look at real estate market trends for this area to get a feel for how values have changed over time historically.

Consider a “Fixer-Upper”

If there is room for improvement in a home, the current value is often lower than it could be. So purchasing what’s considered to be a “fixer-upper” and making necessary and desirable renovations is likely to lead to a higher value and therefore a higher price tag when the time comes for you to sell. While home improvement projects aren’t cheap, another bonus is that you may be able to spend less only making the renovations you find the highest priority compared to purchasing an already-renovated state of the art home—and you may be able to secure a property in a better location and on a more valuable plot than you’d be able to if the home wasn’t in need of repairs.

Be Smart About Upgrades

When it comes to renovations and making updates to your home, you should aim to be strategic in determining what work to have done. Certain renovations are pricier than others and some are more valuable in others in terms of how they can contribute to your home’s appreciation. A few common renovations that are generally known to increase your home’s value the most include garage door replacement, kitchen remodeling, siding replacement, and window replacements.

If you are thinking about buying a new home, reach out to one of our experienced Loan Officers today to learn more about your home loan options.

What to Know Before Buying a Flipped Home

House flipping is when someone buys a home, usually for “cheap,” with the express purpose of remodeling to increase its value and sell it for a profit. As shown by the nearly countless television shows made about flipping, the final result can be very impressive, but is buying and living in a home that has been flipped right for you? Read on for things you should consider before purchasing a flipped property.

Pros

Flipped homes often utilize the trendiest design styles and come with brand new appliances. In many cases, you get the charming exterior of an older or historic home with all the comforts of modern décor and technology. As a result, most of these homes are move-in ready and there should be little to no renovation work required on your part.

Cons

While there are some risks associated with any home purchase, the risk can be greater with flipped property. The home may look great, but it’s important to make sure it’s not just smoke and mirrors. In some cases, the person doing the flipping does a good job of simply covering up and concealing issues cosmetically without really fixing the problem. When a flipper is experiencing financial and time crunches, they may be more careless even with things that are important, like electric and plumbing work. Cutting corners like this could not only cause you headaches after move-in but can even be dangerous. This can also lead to issues of compliance, and it is essential you make sure all the proper permits were obtained and that your home is up to code. Otherwise, you may end up on the hook for a lot of money and work to get the home in regulatory order.

Things to Look Out For

There are certain things you can do to identify whether a home is flipped. A good indication that it was flipped will be through the property’s history which you can view formally through the county assessor’s office records or informally through most popular online real estate listing sites. Both options give you information about the home’s sale history, and if it was bought within the last year or so, odds are it has probably been flipped.

Once you’re touring the home, whether you suspect already it is a flip or not, there are some hints that could suggest it’s a flip (of course, if it’s a good flip, many of these things will be harder to spot or non-issues). Look out for flaws in flooring. If you spot anything painted that wouldn’t normally be painted, it may be covering up other flaws. Speaking of painting, if there are paint spots where there shouldn’t be or walls look sloppy, it can be a red flag; if they’re willing to be careless with something as simple as painting, what else were they careless with? Check out cabinets, drawers, and doors to make sure they are functioning and don’t hit anything when opened. Just be on the look out for overall poor workmanship.

Ultimately, your best bet to protect yourself from buying a poorly flipped home is to seek out a competent, experienced home inspector. They will know what to look for and will be able to spot red flags that may not be obvious to the average person. You should do this regardless of whether the home is flipped or not; you never know what issues could be hiding below the surface, and an inspector is your best chance at uncovering any problems before committing to a purchase.

Are you thinking about buying a home? Contact one of our Loan Officers today to discuss your mortgage options!

First Home Mortgage Makes Scotsman Guide Top Overall Lender Ranking

Baltimore, MD — Scotsman Guide has released its annual Top Overall Lenders ranking for 2022. We are pleased to announce that out of 100 top lenders on the list, First Home Mortgage Corporation is ranked 46th nationally by total volume.

This is the eighth consecutive year First Home Mortgage has made the Top Overall Lenders list and marks a rise by one spot compared to 2021. Scotsman Guide’s Top Mortgage Lenders rankings has long been a trusted benchmark by the mortgage industry, and being ranked is a significant accomplishment signaling excellence.

The Top Overall Lenders ranking is available online and will appear in print in the June edition of Scotsman Guide.

5 Tips for a Fabulous Game Room

Creating a game room right in your own home is a great way to make the most of your space and create a fun atmosphere for making memories with family and friends. With a little forethought and planning, almost any space can become your ideal game room! Follow our tips below to get started.  

Decide What Activities You’d Like to Include 

This is a great brainstorming activity that everyone can participate in! Make a list of fun indoor games and activities you’d love to have in your game room. The list may need to be narrowed down, but it will be a good jumping off point for planning your space. Some popular options are: 

  • Arcade consoles  
  • Pinball Machines 
  • Video games 
  • Ping Pong table 
  • Air Hockey 
  • Foosball 
  • Darts 
  • Board games 
  • Poker table  
  • Shuffleboard 
  • Pool Table 
  • Indoor basketball set 

Analyze Your Space 

Now that you have a list of all the activities you might like to include in your game room, analyze the space you’re transforming to see what will fit. It’s important to take measurements, especially for larger items like a pool table or ping pong table. When measuring, be sure to include enough space to play without bumping into walls. This will help to narrow down your list and confirm which games you’ll include.  

Choose Furniture to Compliment Your Setup  

Your selected games can help you decide what furniture should go in your space. For example, a video game setup might call for sleek gaming chairs. Arcade consoles could be paired with stools. If you’re planning on hosting long card games or tournaments, providing a comfortable seating area for guests not currently playing (or just there to watch) is ideal. Think about who will be using the space, as well as what games you’re including. If pets or children will be joining in the fun, it’s a great idea to devote an area to their comfort as well. Taking measurements is equally important in this step, to ensure everything will fit into the space together. 

Bring on the Snacks!  

Refreshments are an essential part of any game night. There are plenty of ways to make drinks and snacks easily accessible while you play. Some popular items are: 

  • Mini fridge 
  • Drink cart 
  • Popcorn machine 
  • Microwave 
  • Snack basket or station 
  • Wine bar or wet bar 

As in your kitchen, it’s a good idea to ensure food is sealed properly for freshness and to avoid attracting any pests to the area. A healthy mix of sweet, salty and savory snacks is sure to please any palette. Choose easy, low-mess snacks and provide a small trash receptacle nearby to help keep things tidy.  

Decorate to Make it Your Own 

Adding eye-catching personal touches is the final step to making a game room your own! If you have a favorite sports team or another theme in mind, a basement game room can be the perfect space to go all out. If your game room is open to or directly connects to other rooms in your home, you’ll want to maintain a cohesive look. Flooring and paint that coordinates with the rest of your home also makes it easier to change up the theme or decoration when and if you decide to. Lighting is another important decorating element that your game choices will have an impact on. For example, remote controlled LED lights are a great addition behind a wall-mounted flat screen tv or around video game consoles. An attractive hanging fixture works perfectly over a pool table, but not over a ping pong table. These finishing touches will make your personalized game room shine.  

Once you’ve followed these tips and finished your space – the final step is to enjoy it! Gather with friends, family (and opponents) and get gaming!  

If you’re considering moving to a home with more space for a game room, or refinancing your current home to use your equity toward designing a game room, one of our experienced Loan Officers would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about the process and how to get started! Please reach out today!  

5 Real Estate Scams to Watch Out For

Whether you’re buying, selling, or refinancing a property for the first time or fifth, you’re going to be balancing lots of information, paperwork, communications, and transactions. It can be easy to get overwhelmed, and unfortunately, there are individuals out there who may try to take advantage of you during real estate transactions. Below are five common real estate scams you should be aware of in order to avoid being swindled.

Wire Fraud

Arguably the most common real estate scam is wire fraud, particularly in relation to escrow. These scams generally take the form of some kind of communication, be it by phone or email (these days, it’s most commonly email), from an individual claiming to be a representative of your escrow or title company. They will give you instructions for how and where to wire the money. Wire scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their tactics; they often use fake websites and email addresses meant to mirror that of the company you are working with to make them seem legitimate. It is essential that you do not open any links you aren’t sure about and that you check with your Loan Officer to confirm any instructions you’ve received are accurate. Refer to contact information you previously received from your lender, title company, and closing agent rather than trusting what was included in the phone call or email.

Foreclosure Relief

Foreclosures are public record, and deceitful individuals may specifically target people who are in danger of losing their homes. These scammers will generally offer to stop the foreclosure process or greatly reduce mortgage payments in exchange for a large upfront payment. Once the money is received, they disappear, leaving the person who paid them in an even worse state than before; now, not only are they still facing foreclosure, but they’re out even more money. If you are facing foreclosure, you should contact your loan servicer to discuss your options. Make sure the people you seek guidance from are professionals you know you can trust; do not take the word of someone who cold calls or emails you out of the blue claiming to want to help.

Loan Flipping

Loan flipping occurs when someone (often purporting to be a lender) convinces a borrower to repeatedly refinance their mortgage, tacking on exuberant points and fees to each transaction—which usually involve borrowing even more money than the last—to the point where the borrower’s equity is greatly limited and they’re unable to keep up with loan payments. You should only refinance your home when you have done your research on the pros and cons and, with the help of a trusted mortgage professional, concluded that it is in your best interest to do so. A good lender or Loan Officer will not pressure you to do anything you are unsure about. If the person you are working with is being particularly pushy in trying to persuade you to refinance (especially if they have already done so in the past), it may be time to consider seeking another opinion.

Predatory Lending

Predatory lending can take numerous forms, but some key things to look out for are exceptionally high rates, excessive (and often hidden) fees and penalties, loan flipping, a lack of a credit check, loan packing (tacking on unnecessary additional financial products to your loan), and balloon payments (payments and fees that are delayed until later in the life of your loan).

These lenders often target at-risk borrowers such as those with low credit scores, a lack of cash, low income, and the elderly. It can sometimes be hard to tell what is and isn’t normal coming from a lender, especially when you are a first time buyer. A good way to ensure you are working with a trusted, legitimate lender is to seek out recommendations from friends and family who have been through the mortgage process before and look at online reviews. Check your lender and loan officer’s credentials to confirm they are properly licensed.

Moving Company Scams

When it’s time to move, you may seek the help of professional movers. Be wary of companies that quote prices far lower than competitors, especially if they offer a non-written estimate without seeing your home and belongings. Predatory movers may suddenly charge much more than what you were initially quoted and even demand additional money before releasing your personal property. Much like with lenders, you should do your due diligence in evaluating the merit of moving companies before hiring them in order to avoid losing your money and even your possessions.

What to Do About Scams?

If you believe you have identified or fallen victim to a scam, you can and should report it in order to hold the fraudsters accountable and hopefully prevent others from being scammed. The FTC has an online fraud report tool and the Better Business Bureau offers their “Scam Tracker” where you can not only report scams but also do research to ensure the individual or company you are working with is not fraudulent.

A great way to minimize your risk of being scammed is to work with legitimate professionals right from the outset of the mortgage process. If you are considering buying, selling, or refinancing your home, contact one of our experienced and trustworthy Loan Officers today!

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