Home Design Application Must-Haves

Did you buy a home and need inspiration to decorate it? Or, do you currently own a home and need an interior update?  These smartphone apps are perfect for you!  They help inspire home improvement, all in the palm of your hand.  These apps are smartphone Android and iOS friendly, at a minimal fee or no price at all.  If you are looking to buy in the near future and need help getting started, contact a First Home Mortgage Loan Officer for more information.  Once your dream home is yours, you can put these apps to the test.

Zillow Digs

Zillow currently provides a price estimate on the majority of real estate in America.  Their website provides an online, searchable database easily accessible to all.  They now offer an app for home improvement and design.  It allows you to choose an array of interior projects that matches your price point.  Zillow digs also provides advice from real designers and allows you to share with others on social media.

ColorSnap

This app allows for you to view 1,500 different shades of Sherman-Williams’ paint inventory and will allow you to apply it to any of its virtual sample rooms.  Not only do you get to see how different colors look in different rooms, it will also analyze colors of any photo on your smartphone and inform you of what shade of paint it is.

Houzz

Houzz contains more than 5 million high resolution home images that are tagged and organized according to style, room and location. You can search your favorite looks and save them in an “idea book” to later refer to when needed.  It also includes real-life design consultants that you can share and request ideas from.

Other top home designing applications that you can download are Homestyler Interior Design, Curate, Like That Décor and Furniture, MagicPlan, MyPantone, BrightNest and Home Design 3D Gold.

Love the ideas you find on these applications but need the finances to do them? First Home Mortgage offers Renovation loans for home improvements.  Contact a First Home Mortgage Loan Officer now to learn more. Click Here

Last Minute Prep for Holiday Guests

Thanksgiving marks the start of a hectic holiday season. If you’re hosting dinner at your house this year, your mind is probably going through every detail before guests arrive. Here’s a few pointers to help you stay on track and have a (mostly) stress-free Thanksgiving.

Focus
There’s no time to clear 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 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. As long as 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.

Safety
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.

Comfort
Consider the amount of guests and sitting space. 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.

Space
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. So find the time to relax and be thankful for the memories you’ll make at home.

Fall Home Improvement Projects that Add Value

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, it might be time to roll up your sleeves and invest in a few simple improvements:

  1. 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. Extra points if you repaint the shutters as well!
  2. Repair the deck or patio
    Having a deck or patio is a feature 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 back yard. If your deck needs to be repaired, simply power washing or applying finish can do the trick. However, if the overall structure needs work, it’s probably worth the investment to hire outside help.
  3. Power-wash the exterior
    The amount of value this adds to your home depends on the level of cleaning needed. Taking care of few minor stains will definitely help a home sell and it’s a moderately easy DIY project for the homeowner. However, if the majority 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.
  4. Replace or repair your roof
    A properly maintained roof inspires confidence in a homeowner. It provides peace of mind for residents, knowing they will be safe from leaks and water damage. A brand new roof can be a mandatory venture or maybe you simply need to update it with new details to increase curb appeal. Either way, making sure the roof over your head is sound and up-to-date is a must. If there is a chance the roof needs fixing while on the market, buyers can see it as a factor to decrease asking price.
  5. Enhance the exterior
    Curb appeal will remain one of the most important factors in home buying. If your home exterior has stained siding or chipping paint, many prospects might turn away before they even see what’s inside. Although it can be costly to invest in new siding or the labor to repaint an entire house, your return on the investment when you sell is worth it. Just remember to stay on the safe side when choosing a color; something neutral is best.
  6. Window replacement
    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, a periodic washing of the interior and exterior will help retain your home’s look and value.
  7. Update your HVAC
    If your HVAC system is more than 15 years old, it might be worth it to upgrade. It’s not 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.
  8. Clean the gutters
    Cleaning the gutters probably seems pretty dull 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.

Company News: First Home’s New Look

After more than 25 years in the mortgage industry, First Home Mortgage has decided to update our brand. We are very excited to release our new look across all channels and throughout all of our branches. First Home has embraced the statement “We Put People First” speaking to the reason behind our business – prioritizing the customers, partners and employees who encompass First Home Mortgage Corporation.

As a company, First Home is consistently trying to improve the mortgage experience for clients and colleagues. Our new image reflects our efforts to modernize while still staying true to our fundamental business practices: home financing on a personal level. Whether you are buying a home or looking to refinance, First Home will continue to serve borrowers with the efficiency and professionalism which have built our success.

Through this rebranding strategy we are hoping to improve our platform, which includes a more optimized website that is easier to access and navigate. As we continue to move in this new direction, our hope is to steadily reveal more resources that will heighten our customer service level.

Feel free to contact us and continue following our blog so that you can discover our new initiatives.

 

How Credit Scores Affect Mortgage Rates

Obtaining a low mortgage interest rate can help you save money on the price of your home. While many people try to compare lenders to secure the best possible rate, one of the main determinants of a mortgage rate is your credit score. Borrowers with higher scores are more likely to receive a lower rate than those with lower credit scores. Most lenders view a potential home buyer with a high credit score as more dependable and less likely to default on mortgage payments.

What is considered a “high” score?

The highest score a person can have is 850. However, it’s unusual for someone to have a perfect credit score. Most home buyers should aim for a score of 720 and above to qualify for good mortgage rate. If your credit score goes below 620 it can be difficult, though possible, to get a mortgage as well as a favorable rate. For an approximate breakdown, here is a range of how credit scores are judged:

Excellent = 720 and above
Good = 660 –719
Fair = 620 – 659
Poor = 619 and below

Can I still obtain a loan with a low credit score?

If you know your credit score isn’t stellar, it doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot qualify for a mortgage. For example, an FHA loan is a popular loan type among first-time homebuyers which accepts less than excellent credit scores. When you begin the mortgage process, your Loan Officer will order a credit report and you can start to explore your options in more detail.

Finding your credit score

A credit report can come from three different reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These reports require some background information and security questions, then deliver an outline of your credit history. However, if you’re interested in simply retrieving the number, you can easily view your FICO credit score, through your credit card company or online. It’s important check your credit score in order to determine whether you should improve it before applying for a loan. Speak with your Loan Officer about when you’re looking to buy and what you can do to in the meantime to increase your credit score.

5 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Bill This Summer

When summer rolls around, many of us dread the cost required to keep the house (and its occupants) cool. The higher the temperature outdoors, the harder your air conditioner has to work to maintain a comfortable climate indoors. In addition to your regular utility costs, having the AC on full blast can lead to an expensive energy bill throughout the summer. Although we cannot regulate the weather on a day to day basis, there are ways to help control your utility bills.

Here are five simple ways to save money on energy bills this summer:

  1. Unplug devices while not in use: If you have devices you’re not using, consider going around and unplugging them or using plugs which feature automatic shut off switches. Same goes for lighting – try to rely on natural light during the day and turn off lights when you leave a room.
  2. Start using fans: This may seem like an obvious alternative. However, opting to use your fan at times, such as cooler days and evenings, will help make a difference on your utility bill.
  3. Close up cracks: just as you may focus on insulation and closing up your home during the winter months, you should also consider doing the same thing in the summer. Try to seal windows and close doors in the areas of the house you don’t use.
  4. Tune up your AC: Have your system inspected to make sure it’s working as efficiently as possible. You can also set a schedule for your air conditioner. If you plan on spending the day outside of the house, turn the AC down or completely off until you return.
  5. Start drying laundry outside: Summer is a wonderful time that you can ditch the use of your dryer in favor of drying your clothes in the sunshine.

Keep some of these top ideas in mind for reducing your energy consumption throughout the summer months in order to save money.

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