Jodi White Joins the First Home Team as Branch Manager of Our New Gainesville, VA Office

Spring is in full swing and First Home Mortgage continues to grow and thrive with the addition of our newest branch location, opening soon in Gainesville, Virginia!

Of course, an office is just a building, and it takes a team to really make things happen. That’s why we’re excited to announce that industry veteran extraordinaire Jodi White has joined the First Home family and will be leading operations in Gainesville as Branch Manager. Welcome home, Jodi!

The office may be brand new, but Jodi will be bringing nearly three decades of experience to her team, partners, and clients. Her background in mortgage lending spans 27 years, beginning as a loan originator in 1996 and extending into positions in management and branch operations, with an impressive list of top producer awards secured along the way.

“Jodi’s rich professional history and impressive performance record would make her a valuable asset to any lender,” said Matt Nader, Senior Vice President and Director of Sales for First Home Mortgage. “As we set down roots with this office location in Gainesville, we can do so with confidence that our newest branch is in the best of hands.”

Jodi has extensive experience with residential lending, mortgage financing, supporting first-time homebuyers, and both VA and FHA loans. She served on the Prince William Association of Realtors Board of Directors from 2016-2020 and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Averett University.

“As a proud member of the real estate community in the Commonwealth of Virginia for over 20 years, I’m honored to be representing First Home by helping to open and lead this new branch,” said White. “I believe that partnering with the right lender can make all the difference for a prospective buyer, and through open communication and individual connections, my team and I will work hard to earn the trust of homebuyers in the community.”

When the new location opens its doors, it will bring the total number of First Home offices to 32 – furthering our commitment to establishing deep roots within our communities and helping local borrowers.

Introducing First Home’s Dream Program!

Exciting news for prospective homebuyers looking to enter the market: With the launch of our new First Home’s Dream Program, we’re offering down payment assistance worth up to $3,000 to low- to-moderate-income homebuyers on conventional 30-year mortgages!

We know that saving up for a home can be a huge challenge, especially in today’s housing market. As part of our commitment to making homeownership dreams come true, we’ve launched this innovative new program to help make homebuying more affordable for those who qualify.

Through First Home’s Dream Program, eligible homebuyers can receive up to $3,000 in down payment assistance – which can go a long way towards covering costs associated with purchasing a home. And the best part? This program is open to all homebuyers, not just first-time buyers!

We understand that buying a home can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, but we are here to make the process as smooth as possible. Our team of experts is always available to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the entire process.

At First Home Mortgage, we believe in supporting our local communities and helping families achieve their dreams of homeownership. That’s why we recently launched two other initiatives aimed at helping first-time homebuyers, and community service heroes in qualifying professions.

We are committed to making homeownership more affordable and accessible to everyone, and First Home’s Dream Program is just one of the ways we’re doing that. If you’re interested in learning more about this program and seeing if you qualify for this unique savings opportunity, reach out to one of our experienced, qualified loan officers to see how First Home Mortgage can help!

Don’t let the ghouls in through leaking windows this Halloween.

Are you looking to get your windows fixed or replaced before the winter? Before you do, let’s look behind the curtain and understand what type of sales tricks window salespeople will use.  

The company charges a higher price, ensuring you are overwhelmed by the initial quote.  

    •  This can be a common trend across many different types of vendors. Make sure you are paying attention to competitor pricing and getting multiple quotes. 

The company returns with a “better than ever” deal for you.  

    • Because they started high, this “better than ever” deal will actually be more reasonable to you, but still not a discount.  

You may think this is the best deal ever and jump to sign the contract, but this type of salesperson hopes you will make the jump on this deal because of the fear of the unknown. 

    • They want a quick close of the deal, take your time to look over all quotes to ensure you are going with the right vendor. Also, it would be a good idea to check out reviews from the company to see what other customers experiences are like.  

Larger companies also are aware that there are homeowners who make their purchase decisions quickly and will accept the initial quote and pay the inflated rate. This common sales tactic only adds to the company’s bottom line and supports its massive advertising budget. 

    • The overall takeaway is to not take the initial quote, make sure you shop around, and take your time!  

With a home renovation loan from First Home Mortgage, Sunday scaries and every scary in between will no longer be a concern. With a home improvement loan from First Home Mortgage, borrowers can complete their home renovation project with a fixed-interest rate personal loan. We offer loan term options that let homeowners pick the loan option that’s right for them. That said, don’t let vendors scare you into deals that could break the budget. Are you interested in learning more about renovation loans? Reach out to a qualified loan officer today to learn more!  

Don’t let owning a home top your list of spine-chilling terrors this Halloween! 

Vampires, witches, and ghosts that go bump in the night may have you shivering with fright, but don’t let owning a home top your list of spine-chilling terrors this Halloween. First Home Mortgage is here to lessen your fears and ease the panic regarding homeownership. 

Yes, you may need a down payment when buying a home. But did you know you may be able to put down less than 20%? Some buyers put down 3% or even less, depending on the type of loan, their income, and credit scores.  

Here are some easy steps to follow when making a home purchase:  

Contact a Loan Officer – If you are unsure about where to start first, it is best to consult with a loan officer. They can review your income and expenses and determine what type of mortgage and amount you could qualify for based on your finances.  

Contact a realtor – Once you know the amount of home you can afford, you can have your loan officer provide you with a few realtors to work with in your area. Realtors can help you with areas of interest and types of homes you like based on what you qualify for.  

Your credit – You will want to know your credit score to determine what you qualify for. Remember that you don’t need perfect credit to purchase a home, so don’t let that scare you off. The average credit score in the United States is 698, based on VantageScore data from February 2021.  

Gather all your documents! – When you put an offer in on a home, the process begins for collection of documentation to verify your income. Make sure you are ready! Some forms collected are W-2, tax returns, and pay stubs. You will usually need two years of documentation. 

Still afraid? Reach out to one of our qualified loan officers who can walk you through the home-buying process to make it less scary!


Three Things to Know about the Fed’s Rate Decision

The Federal Reserve just increased the Fed Funds rate .75%. What does that mean, and how does it impact the mortgage market? Here are three things to know about today’s news:

1. The Federal Reserve Influences Mortgage Rates, They Do Not Set Them

Many have the misconception that the Federal Reserve’s actions have a direct impact on mortgage rates. Many assume that if a mortgage was offered 6% this morning, it’s now 6.75% after this afternoon’s announcement. That isn’t the case, however. The Federal Reserve sets the rates banks charge each other, not the rates lenders offer borrowers. The Fed’s actions influence the overall rate environment; it doesn’t set those rates.

2. The Federal Reserve is Trying to Ease Inflation

The Federal Reserve is heavily-focused on easing inflation in the US economy. They are trying to be aggressive in their actions to stop inflation before it takes hold for the long haul. This is good news for home affordability; lower inflation helps boost borrower buying power.

3. Today’s Rate Decision is a Step in the Right Direction for the Economy

The Federal Reserve has two goals: full employment and price stability. The unemployment rate remains low at below 4%, but increasing inflation is causing problems in the US economy. The Federal Reserve’s focus on reining in inflation and today’s announcement will make a significant impact in helping to stabilize the economy as a whole.

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

Author: James Baublitz, VP Capital Markets

New Conforming Loan Limits for 2021


The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conforming loan limits for mortgages for 2021.

Each year, the baseline conforming loan limit is adjusted accordingly with the change in the average U.S. home price. House prices during the third quarters of 2019 and 2020 have increased by 7.42 percent on average; therefore, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is increasing 2021’s maximum conforming loan limit by the same percentage. This marks the fifth year in a row that there has been a limit increase by the FHFA. The baseline loan limit has increased by $131,250 since 2016.

The limit is different in some places known as high-cost areas. These are areas in which 115 percent of the local median home value is higher than the baseline conforming loan limit. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act establishes the maximum loan limit in those areas while also setting a ceiling on that limit which is 150 percent of the baseline loan limit. The new ceiling loan limit in most high-cost areas for 2021 will be $822,375, which is 150 percent of $548,250.

Here at First Home Mortgage, we continue to provide the highest level of customer service while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Our innovative communication technologies allow us to exceed your expectations while keeping everyone as safe as possible.

If you are considering purchasing or refinancing a home, please contact one of our Loan Officers today!

Why Pre-Qualifying for a Loan is Important

In order for the loan process to run smoothly, one of the smartest things to do is get pre-qualified for a mortgage. A pre-qualification is an estimate of how much you can borrow from a lender which allows you to explore loan options specific to your financial situation. Pre-qualifying for a loan before you go home shopping helps you set a budget and strengthen your negotiating position when making an offer. Having a pre-qualification is also a good sign to the seller that you are serious and ready to buy. This is particularly important these days since it’s a seller market and homes are going quickly. Taking this step to be prepared can get you ahead of the game.

How to Pre-Qualify

Pre-qualification is a simple process that can be done at zero cost and completed online. Contact your Loan Officer to find out which documents you should prepare to complete the pre-qualification form. Once you pre-qualify successfully, you can request a letter stating how much you may be able to borrow based on the information you provided. You can share this with your real estate agent or simply tell the agent a price range based on the outcome of your pre-qualification.

Pre-qualification vs. Conditional Approval

Conditional approval requires more information and is a much more serious level of approval. Conditional approval means you will have a commitment to a specific loan program at a specific loan amount. It will also provide more information about your interest rate and monthly mortgage payment.

Before you start your journey as a home buyer, contact one of our Loan Officers to get pre-qualified!


Selling Your Home During Winter

Many people believe winter is the most undesirable time to sell your home, but this doesn’t have to be the case. If you know what to expect, you can have just as much success selling your home during winter than you would any other time of year. Don’t be afraid to list during wintertime.

Who’s Buying in During Winter?

In many cases, you’re likely to see more serious buyers in winter than in spring and summer where it’s more popular to look for homes even casually. There are a whole host of reasons someone may be looking to buy a home during winter, some of which come with increased urgency to find a home such as job relocations, an expiring lease, or a contract on their current home. If someone is willing to battle cold and sometimes inclement weather to see your home, it’s probably because they’re serious about buying. The weather can help your home sell faster, too; people are less likely to want to look all over town for a home when it’s cold or snowy which means they may be more likely to choose one of the first homes they see that fits their needs.

The Internet is Your Friend

Virtual listings and showings are always important but especially are during the winter months when it’s cold and gets dark earlier. This is even more so the case now in the wake of COVID-19 with fewer people venturing out. Be sure to get your home on as many listing sites as you can to increase its visibility. Make sure your listing description is thorough and engaging. Depending on scheduling, you may find most of your showings are at dusk or after dark; talk to your realtor about considering a virtual 3D walkthrough to fully showcase your home during the daytime for interested buyers.

Know How to Prepare and Stage Your Home

Prepping and staging your home for its online listings and open houses is always an important part of the selling process. There are some particulars you should keep in mind when selling during the winter months. Winter can be dreary, so let in as much light as you can. If you’re going to be holding in-person showings, ensure all walkways are cleared if it snows and be sure to keep the temperature inside warm and comfortable for visitors. When it comes to decorating for the holidays, keep it simple and tasteful; potential buyers want to envision themselves in your home year-round, not just at the holidays. Make your environment cozy and inviting; you can even consider offering coffee and hot chocolate to prospective buyers.

There’s no need to be afraid of selling your home during the winter months. If you’re preparing to sell your home, you’re probably thinking about buying, too. Contact one of our experienced Loan Officers today to learn more about financing options.

4 Easy Steps to an Organized Garage

Your garage can serve many purposes, but not if it’s full of clutter. A recent study showed that only 30% of homeowners with garages use them to store their vehicles because they are just too full! If you are ready to organize your garage, the good news is that this is a project you can tackle yourself at little to no cost to you.

Step 1: Purge Unnecessary Items

Set aside a few hours or a whole day to go through absolutely everything in your garage. Sort items into four separate piles – items to keep, items to sell, items to donate, and items to the trash. Make plans to drop off donations and sell anything you’d like to right away, so you can free up that space for your “keep” pile. Put the trash out immediately, or schedule a trash pick up or take a trip to your local dump as soon as possible if it’s too much for your regular trash service to take.

Step 2: Decide Which Keep Items Stay in The Garage

Some items should not be stored in a garage. Move anything from the list below to a safer spot in your home or yard!
Paint Cans: Extreme cold or heat can ruin the paint. It’s best to store cans in a temperature-controlled area.
Propane and Other Fuels: Experts recommend keeping this outside and away from your home since a small spark could ignite them.
Paper goods and Pet Foods: These can attract pests and small animals to your garage. They are safer when stored indoors.
Extra Refrigerator: This can be a huge energy drain in spaces that are not air-conditioned, and is better off indoors if possible.

Step 3: Make the Most of Your Storage Space

Sort your “keep” pile, such as lawn and garden, bikes or sports equipment, tools, seasonal items, etc. An organized garage starts with storing it all! Wall hooks and open shelves are an inexpensive way to add lots of extra vertical storage space in your garage. Clear or labeled bins are great for grouping and storing smaller items. Clear jars are perfect for keeping track of very small items like nuts and bolts. Wall hooks and baskets can hold all sorts of items, from bikes and hoses to flowerpots. Large items such as lawnmowers should go against walls or in corners to avoid bumping into them with your vehicle. It’s a good idea to store frequently used items closer to the garage door for easy access, while seasonal items can be stored out of the way until they are needed. The garage ceiling can be a great spot for flat, infrequently used items like sleds and beach chairs, just be sure they are placed out of the way of your garage door and high enough not to scratch the roof of your car.

Step 4: Safety Counts!

It’s a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher mounted or easily accessible in your garage, in case of emergency. A carbon monoxide detector can add additional peace of mind (even though you should never leave your car running with the garage door closed!).

You’re now ready to start on your journey to an organized garage.

Considering moving or refinancing in the near future? If so, one of our experienced Loan Officers would love to help!

How to Compete in Today’s Housing Market

It’s a hot housing market these days. That means there are more buyers looking to purchase homes than there are homes for sale, giving way to some strong competition. With the pandemic, more city dwellers and renters are looking to buy resulting in bidding wars and homes selling for more than the asking price. So how are you supposed to beat out the competition? Take these tips into consideration if you’re looking to buy them!

Be proactive.

Homes may go off the market lightning fast in a seller’s market, so be ready to act fast. Research houses in your preferred neighborhood before you are ready to buy to get a feel for the market. This will help you determine what the typical price range is and how quickly homes are sold. When you are ready to purchase and have found a home, if possible, try and schedule a safe or virtual tour as soon as possible. This will give you an advantage over other buyers to put in an offer before others even see the house.

Get pre-qualified.

When buying in a competitive market, you should always be as prepared as possible. First, start by getting pre-qualified. Getting pre-qualified shows the seller you are serious and ready to buy. Having your finances in order indicates you have the means to purchase the house and won’t need to back out of the contract for financial reasons.

Make a strong offer.

Bringing your strongest offer to the table may save time by eliminating a negotiation period or bidding war. A seller may not want to deal with the hassles of negotiating, so if you present a solid offer, it may have a better chance of being accepted right away. Also, bringing your strongest offer will save you time, and probably money, by taking you out of a bidding war. Presenting an offer that is much lower than the asking price could deter the seller and they will take your offer right off the table. If you have done your due diligence, you will know the best offer to make.

Get personal.

Writing an additional letter to the seller, along with your offer letter, may help you stand out against other buyers. If you plan on making the house your forever home, write a formal letter to the seller explaining how you envision your family in the home. Maybe you see yourself cooking breakfast for your family every morning in the kitchen, or describe how you can see your kids playing in the backyard on sunny days. Adding a personal touch to your offer may give you an advantage over your competition.

It’s a tough market out there right now, but with the right mindset and game plan, you will be enjoying your new house in no time!

If you are ready to get started, contact one of our loan officers.

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