Mortgage-Related Agencies to Know

When buying a home and exploring mortgage options, you’re likely to encounter different agencies you may not be familiar with. What do these mortgage-related agencies do and why are they important?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are two separate entities that purchase mortgages from banks. Fannie Mae is short for the Federal National Mortgage Association while Freddie Mac is short for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Both Fannie and Freddie’s purpose is essentially to give lenders more capital via the sale of mortgages which, in turn, allows the lenders to continue offering loans to additional borrowers. Fannie is the older organization of the two, having been established in 1938 while Freddie was established in 1970. They have different requirements for the kind of mortgages they purchase, and a key difference between the two is that Fannie Mae generally tends to buy loans from bigger lenders and commercial banks. In contrast, Freddie Mac tends to buy loans from smaller banks.


The Federal Housing Administration, or FHA for short, is a government agency that falls within the Department of Housing and Urban Development, otherwise known as HUD. The FHA was founded as part of the National Housing Act of 1934 introduced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his famous New Deal. The FHA offers mortgage insurance-backed mortgages to consumers via specific FHA-approved lenders (of which First Home Mortgage is one). FHA loans are often thought of as allowing individuals, particularly those with lower incomes, to obtain homes they would otherwise not be able to afford. FHA loans are known for their 3.5% down payment and lower closing costs and credit requirements.


The United States Department of Agriculture, also known as the USDA, is the federal department tasked with overseeing public policy related to agriculture, food, natural resources, rural development, and more. The USDA offers home loans for properties in eligible rural areas to low- and moderate-income households who meet certain requirements. USDA loans offer 100% financing (no down payment required), but borrowers must meet income eligibility; their income can not exceed 115% of the property area’s median household income. Check out their online eligibility tool to see if a property is USDA eligible.


The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, more commonly known as the VA, is the executive branch department that oversees healthcare and other benefits and services for military veterans. One of the services offered to veterans by the VA is home loans. VA loans are available to eligible current and former service members and surviving spouses. VA loans are known for not requiring a down payment or mortgage insurance, much like USDA loans, but there are no limitations on where a property may be purchased. To determine if your service qualifies you for a VA loan, speak to a Loan Officer and check out the VA’s requirements.

Are you thinking about buying a new home or refinancing your current mortgage? Contact one of our highly knowledgeable Loan Officers today to discuss your financing options.

The Best Home Technology Featured at CES 2022

What’s better than being a homeowner? Being a smart homeowner! And thanks to CES 2022, we now know about the incredible technology that will soon be available to make your life at home even easier. Here’s a look at our top five favorite items that were featured at the show.*

  • LG is taking cooking appliances to the next level. The company introduced the InstaView Double Oven Range that features InstaView technology – all you have to do is knock on the window glass and the interior oven light will turn on. It also includes a design that makes cooking more efficient by reducing bake times. And this oven can also be used as an air-fryer or in sous vide mode.
  • Programmable motorized blinds by Eve x Coulisse allow you to schedule when your blinds open and close. They include Bluetooth connectivity and Apple HomeKit so you can control them from your device.
  • In 2022, a light bulb is much more than just a source of light. Sengled has announced their new Smart Health Monitoring Bulb that will track your sleep, heart rate, and other biometric measurements including body temperature using radar. The bulb can work alone, or multiple bulbs connected via a Bluetooth mesh network work together to create a virtual map that can help detect human behavior. Camp said it could even determine if someone has fallen.
  • You no longer have to worry about cleaning and emptying your robot vacuum. The new Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra features a scrubbing feature plus an automatic mop-lift that raises the pad when going over the carpet. Its compatible Empty Wash Fill dock can also wash the mopping cloth and refill the tank with water, as well as empty the vacuum and clean the dock. Sign us up!
  • And last but not least, Kohler has done it again. If taking a bath at the end of the day sounds like a dream come true, you’re going to want to continue reading about their two new products. First up, the Stillness freestanding bath features light, fog, and aromas to help relax the mind. Kohler also introduced their PerfectFill technology that includes a built-in voice assistant to control how your bathtub fills, heats, and drains.

*First Home Mortgage was not incentivized in any way by the company’s and products mentioned in this blog post

Preparing For The Holiday Season

With the world slowly getting back to a new normal after Covid-19, this year’s holiday season might reflect the past holiday seasons, which for many is hectic. If you’re hosting dinner at your house this year, your mind is probably going through every detail before guests arrive. Here are a few pointers to help you stay on track and have a (hopefully) stress-free holiday season!


There’s no time to clean every inch of your home the day before your guests arrive, so prioritize cleaning efforts by taking care of what’s needed most. Start by getting rid of clutter from the main living areas and guest bedrooms. Clean the tops of your counters and coffee tables, removing anything unnecessary that takes up space or appears unorganized. If you’re down to the wire, store the clutter in the basement, unused closets, or car trunks. If it’s out of sight, it will be out of mind. You can always reorganize after your guests leave.

Guest Bathroom

If there’s one place you shouldn’t skimp on cleaning, it’s the bathroom. Even if the rest of the house can’t be spotless, pay extra attention to the bathrooms your guests will use. Provide extra toilet paper, fresh towels, clean bathmats, and toiletries (in case someone forgets). Empty your trash bins and remove personal bathroom belongings from the counters. This especially is important if you are hosting overnight guests.


Candles, cooking, and crowded rooms can mean disaster during the holidays. Make sure there are no decorations that could be considered a fire hazard, such as tall uncovered candles. Check your fireplace to see if it’s clean and the door is working properly. Smoke detectors should have fresh batteries and it’s always best to keep a fire extinguisher handy. If there will be children in the home, hide matches and lighters as well as any toxic cleaners.


Consider the number of guests and sitting space available. Bring in more chairs or ottomans and arrange seats so all the guests can move and engage freely. Also, consider the room temperature – a lot of people in one house can get stuffy, so don’t crank up the heat too much. Provide fresh sheets and extra blankets in the guest rooms in case anyone gets cold at night.


Since a home’s foyer has the most traffic, make sure it’s clear of any luggage or shoes. Have a designated place where everyone can place their belongings as soon as they enter. Provide extra hooks and coat hangs when needed. If possible, clear out a closet entirely for guests as well as drawers if they need to unpack.

Kitchen Zone

The kitchen will be the headquarters during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready. Clear your kitchen sink, drying rack, and counter space. Count all of your plates and utensils so you can provide enough for guests. Perform a quick scan of your fridge and create space by tossing what needs to go. Have containers ready for leftovers – for you and for guests to take home. If people tend to visit while you cook, place extra stools or chairs around or within the kitchen along with some drinks and snacks.

In the end, the most important thing to remember is to enjoy your family and friends. Make sure to find the time to relax and be thankful for the memories you’ll make at home!

Adding Value to Your Home This Fall

For most homeowners, fall is the season you adorn the house with harvest decorations and take in the colorful foliage. The new season can also be the perfect time to tackle some home improvement projects you have on your to-do list. The cooler weather makes outside DIY tasks more bearable, or if you decide to hire help, there may be more available contractors during the “off” season.

By making a few minor updates you can increase the curb appeal and overall value of your home. So, if you’re a homeowner planning to sell in the spring or you’re just looking to gain sweat equity, it might be time to roll up your sleeves and invest in a few simple improvements:

Paint the front door.
One of the most effective, yet simple, ways to spruce up your home’s exterior is by painting the front door. Applying a fresh coat of paint instantly gives your home a more polished look and the cooler weather is optimal for exterior painting. Repainting the shutters to match is also a nice touch!

Repair the deck or patio.
Having a deck or patio is something that home buyers value enormously. However, if the wood is warped, splintering, or faded, it becomes more of a problem than a benefit. The sight of a deck in poor condition can reflect badly on the overall aesthetic of the backyard. If your deck needs to be repaired, simply power washing or applying a new finish can do the trick. However, if the overall structure needs work, it’s probably worth the investment to hire outside help.

Power-wash the exterior.
The amount of value this adds to your home depends on the level of cleaning needed. Taking care of a few minor stains will help a home sell and it’s a moderately easy DIY project for the homeowner. However, if most of the exterior needs washing, hiring a professional could add phenomenal value when the job is finished. Although the cost of using outside help might be intimidating, having your home look like new will be worth it.

Replace the windows.
Windows can be a costly investment, so it’s wise to hold off on complete replacement unless there is serious damage, or the insulation is so poor it racks up utility bills. If you have large bay windows, periodic washing of the interior and exterior will help retain your home’s look and value.

Update your HVAC.
If your HVAC system is more than 15 years old, it might be worth it to upgrade. It’s not a major highlight on a buyers list, but if they point out the system is old, it could be a way for them to negotiate a lower price.

Clean the gutters.
Cleaning the gutters probably seems like a less exciting task on the home improvement list, but regular maintenance prevents larger problems down the road. Overlooked rain gutters could amount to foundation damage, which would mean substantial costs and devaluation of a home. To prevent future damage, make sure you stay on track with this chore and give your home the care it needs to last a lifetime.

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