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.

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 Tips for a Greener Home Life

Celebrating and preserving the Earth starts right in your own home! In honor of Earth Day, First Home Mortgage is sharing some of our favorite habitat-healthy habits.  

Install a Rain Barrel 

Rain barrels are an easy and inexpensive way to store natural rainwater, which can be used to water your garden, lawn, and even indoor plants. Be sure the drain spout you are collecting from is clean and free of debris, and always keep the screen on top of your barrel tightly in place, to prevent any insects from breeding inside. A variety of different rain barrels can be purchased, or you can make your own! HGTV offers step-by-step instructions for an attractive DIY rain barrel here: 

Create a Compost Pile 

Composting leftover scraps reduces landfill waste and helps your garden thrive! Beginning to compost requires very few supplies. A pail for collecting your compostable waste indoors, and a composting bin, pile or tumbler for outdoors is all you need. For smaller yards, a composting tumbler is the best option because it prevents odor and insects. Some everyday items to compost include: produce trimmings (such as potato peels), coffee grounds, tea bags, grass clippings, dead leaves, and other garden waste. In time, these once worthless scraps will become nutrient rich soil to bring out the best in your lawn and garden! Find a complete guide to composting for beginners here: 

Grow Your Own Herbs (and Even Veggies!) 

Herbs are small enough to thrive in any sunny window and can be grown indoors year-round. Growing your food at home is the most environmentally friendly option, provides your kitchen with the freshest possible herbs, and improves the air quality in your home. If you have outdoor space for a traditional or container garden, you can take it one step further and grow your own vegetables as well. Fully composted soil can be a major benefit to your outdoor gardens, but be sure not to use it indoors (as it will be home to many tiny organisms). While some plants are best left to seasoned gardeners, a host of vegetables are easy and low maintenance enough for beginners to grow. Not sure where to start? Find 9 Easy Vegetables to Grow for Beginners, here: 

Reduce Paper Waste 

Limiting paper waste in your home is a wonderful way to reduce your environmental impact. Utilizing cloth dishtowels over paper towels and cloth napkins over paper napkins, are two easy and affordable ways to make a big difference over time. Requesting paperless billing and electronic receipts is another excellent measure to cut down on all that paper. When disposing of paper waste you can’t avoid, always opt to recycle when possible. Find a quick list of recyclable paper products and more information from the American Forest and Paper Association, here: 

Clean Greener 

Natural cleaning products are healthier for the environment and your home. Lemons, white vinegar, baking soda, and borax all work together in different ways to achieve the shine and fresh scent you crave. Store-bought air fresheners that are not all-natural can damage air quality, so it’s best to avoid them. Boiling cinnamon sticks is a great alternative to add some sweet scent to your space, and simmering vinegar mixed with water while cooking fish or other strongly scented foods can help absorb any unwanted odors. If you lack the time or inclination to whip up your own natural cleaners, more and more varieties are now available for purchase in stores and online. Find some quick all-natural cleaning recipes and tips here:

First Home Mortgage takes our own steps to limit our environmental impact. Our offices utilize paperless technology and recycling, our Corporate location boasts water saving appliances and fixtures, and many employees across the company now work remote, decreasing gas consumption and transit pollution!  

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

Pros and Cons of Moving to a Neighborhood with an HOA

Homeowners’ associations, or HOAs, are organizations consisting of a governing board of resident volunteers who create and enforce rules for a subdivision or planned unit development. If you buy a property within a community with an HOA, you are required to be a member which will happen automatically upon your purchasing the home. There are many varying opinions out there on HOAs, so it’s important you consider whether being part of one is right for you or not.




Shared Grounds are Maintained

Any common areas in your neighborhood, such as playgrounds and pools, are managed by the HOA. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of these shared community offerings without having to worry about any upkeep yourself. Sometimes, the HOA will even landscape the front yards of any properties, so your lawn may be taken care of—and paid for—by the HOA.


The Neighborhood Looks Nice

Because HOAs have rules for what you can and cannot change about your property, you don’t have to worry about any neighbors’ properties becoming eyesores. Not only does this make the neighborhood look more pleasant for residents, but it can even lead to higher home values. A 2019 study found that homes that are part of an HOA had prices that were, on average, 4% higher than similar homes not in an HOA.


Conflict Mediation and Resolution

If you run into any issues with neighbors, the HOA can help address the situation. If your neighbor has been playing loud music all hours of the night, has an outside dog that barks constantly, or is otherwise breaching HOA rules or acting in a problematic fashion, you can go to the HOA with your concerns and they can act as a go-between to avoid direct confrontation. This is especially helpful if you have addressed the issue directly with your neighbor and no change has been made.





HOA dues are a mandatory part of belonging to an HOA, and they may be expensive. They are sometimes collected monthly and other times annually. How high the dues largely depends on your location and the amenities offered by the HOA. Since HOA membership is compulsory when your property is within one’s jurisdiction, there is no way to get out of paying the fees. You should find out how much dues are and determine if keeping up with them will be manageable in addition to your mortgage, utilities, and other expenses.


Strict Guidelines

When you are part of an HOA, you agreeing to follow all rules and regulations. Some people feel that when you own a home, you should be able to do whatever you want to it, and with HOAs, that is not the case. HOAs may set guidelines for all sorts of things, from the color of house paint you use to and what you are allowed to have visible on your lawn, how tall your grass can grow and how many pets you can have. You should investigate the various guidelines set by the HOA and decide if you find them reasonable before committing to buy a property there.


Risk of Foreclosure

In some states, defaulting on HOA fees could lead to your home being foreclosed upon. For example, in California, if dues have not been paid in more than 12 months or the amount owed is greater than or equal to $1,800, your HOA can begin foreclosure proceedings. In other states, HOAs are at liberty to start the foreclosure process regardless of how long dues have gone unpaid or what the outstanding amount is. If you are at all concerned about your ability to keep up with HOA dues in addition to your other expenses, it is likely in your best interest not to move somewhere with an HOA to minimize your chances of foreclosure. At the very least, you should find out what laws are in place in the state you’re looking to buy in regarding HOA foreclosures so you are aware of your rights and when you may be at risk.


If you are considering making a move, contact one of our experienced Loan Officers today to learn more about your mortgage options!

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Making your home more energy efficient is not only good for the environment but also for your wallet. Small changes can make a big difference in your energy bill. Thankfully we live in a time where technology and innovation make changes much easier than in the past. We have the resources to live greener now let’s put it into practice. Here are 5 ways you can make your home more energy efficient!


Use Less Hot Water to Wash

Whenever possible, use warm or cold water when running your washing machine. Your machine uses a large percentage of energy just to heat the water so using less hot water in each load can add up and result in less energy and cost.


When not in use, it’s best to unplug small appliances such as toasters, kettles, coffee pots, etc. as well as, phone and laptop chargers. A smart power cord could also be a hands-free option. A smart power cord will sense when there is no object plugged in or if the object plugged in is not in use and will then cut the energy off until it is needed.

Replace Light Bulbs

Changing out light bulbs to LED bulbs will not only save you money on your energy bill but also will last longer. LED bulbs use up to 90% less energy and can last 15 times longer.  They also produce less heat and are made of sturdier material, making them an all-around safer option.

Lower thermostat

According to, setting your home to 78F in the summer and 68F in the winter are the optimal temperatures that will keep you comfortable while saving money. Additionally, during the spring and fall when temperatures are more likely to be naturally comfortable outside, opt to turn your system off altogether and open the windows for fresh air. Another thing to keep in mind, space heaters and air conditioning window units tend to eat up a lot of energy. Turning off and unplugging these units is not only saving energy, but also important for safety.

Lights Out

Habits like turning the light off as you leave a room and opening the blinds to use natural sunlight overtime will become second nature and could add up in big way when it comes to your energy bill. Investing in smart plugs could make this even easier by automating the process. There are many smart plug options out there that allow you to control right from your phone. This will allow you to control what’s on or off while you’re not even home!

Taking all, or even a few, of these simple steps can add up over time and won’t require much up front costs. For more home maintenance tips and tricks, visit our website at!

Tips for Moving with Pets

Your pets are important members of your family, and when you choose to move—be it across town or across the country—their needs should be factored in. There are a lot of considerations to make before, during, and after your move. Read on for some helpful tips regarding moving with pets.

Contact Your Vet

You’ll want to take your pet to the vet before a move to both ensure their health is in tip top shape or any conditions are being managed and to get their records and any prescriptions to take with you. You can also ask your vet for advice regarding moving and even see if they have any recommendations for a new vet in your area. If not, you should start looking for a new vet as soon as you can so your pet doesn’t go without care once you’ve made the move. If your pet has a microchip, you’ll also want to get your contact information updated, ideally before you leave (and if they don’t and simply wear a collar, you should update the information there instead).

Prepare and Plan for Moving Day Transportation

How exactly you transport your pets is largely dependent on how long the trip is and what method of transportation you are using. If you are flying, you’ll need to consult the specific airline you are using to find out their policies and regulations regarding traveling with pets. Sometimes you are able to carry your pet on board and other times, particularly with larger pets, they need to be stowed away. Having your pet stowed in cargo is not an ideal situation for them so if you can avoid it, you may want to. If not, strive to have as few transfers as possible. If you are driving, you have much more control over your pet. You’ll generally want to put your pet in a crate or carrier, depending on their size, and make sure they are secured. Some pets fare better with a towel or blanket covering the carrier so they feel more secure and aren’t overwhelmed by the changing environment. You’ll likely want to schedule breaks on your drive to let your pet out to use the bathroom, either outside for a dog or in a litter box for a cat. If you are letting your pet out of your car, make sure they are leashed the whole time. If it is a multi-day trip, make sure the hotel you plan to stay at is pet-friendly. If you are moving states, check out what regulations or laws your new state has, if any, regarding animals. You can do so through the Department of Agriculture.

Help Them Settle In

Getting accustomed to a new home can be a real adjustment for animals, and there are things you can do to help make it easier and so they don’t get overwhelmed. On move-in day specifically, there is generally a lot of coming and going and opening and closing of doors. Consider leaving your pet in a single room, a fenced-in backyard if you have one, or even board them off-site for the day. This can ensure they aren’t able to escape and are out of harm’s way while things are being moved. Once the dust starts to settle, it’s time for your pet to learn the lay of the land in their newfound environment. Try to keep their sense of normalcy as much as possible; if they are used to certain feeding and walking times, the more you can stick to them in your new home, the better. Do some research about what is and isn’t normal behavior for your kind of pet when adjusting to a new home. For example, it is not out of the ordinary for cats to hide and be withdrawn for a few days following a move. You can even restrict your kitty to just one room for a day or two before exposing them to the rest of your home, or even one room at a time, in order to ease them into it. Before long, though, your pet should start to feel more comfortable in your new home and be back to their usual temperament and behavior. You can also check out our tips for pet-proofing your new home.

If you’re ready to move somewhere new and buy a home, contact one of our experienced Loan Officers today to discuss your mortgage options!

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!

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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