Closing Costs: What to Expect

When budgeting for a new home, one thing that often gets overlooked is the amount that you’ll be paying in closing costs. This amount will vary widely from home to home, but it’s important to keep in mind the additional costs associated with closing on your home and to plan accordingly for these costs.

Published 11/22/2022


What Types of Loans are Available for Buyers?

When buying a home, it's important to understand the different types of home mortgage loans that are available. By having a good idea of your options, you can ensure that you're making the choice that makes the most financial sense for you and your family.

Published 11/15/2022


8 Tips to Prep Your Home for Winter

Whether we're ready or not, winter is well on its way and will be bringing lower temps, winter precipitation, and new potential concerns for homeowners. But don't worry! There are quite a few simple steps you can take to prepare for the upcoming cold and help prevent any issues during the season. 

Published 11/08/2022


7 Signs It Might Be Time to Sell Your House

Selling your home is a major decision - and not one that should be taken lightly. From lifestyle changes that have impacted your home needs to where you're at from a financial perspective and the current market status - there are many signs that it could be the right time to think about selling.

Published 11/01/2022


Jumbo Loans vs. Conventional Loans - what's the difference?

What exactly is the difference between these two products, and how do you know which one is right for you? In this article, we’ll dive into what exactly is a Jumbo Loan and when you might need one.

Published 10/25/2022


What is Escrow?

With so much going on during the purchase of a home, how can you be sure that you're being protected financially? That's where escrow comes in. 

Published 10/18/2022


Buying a House: First Steps

Making the right first steps in the home-buying process can make a huge difference in how smooth the process goes, so follow this guide and start your journey on the right foot.

Published 10/11/2022


Budgeting Tips for Real Estate Agents: Make the Most of Your Money
Real Estate can be a tricky business – whether you’re just starting out or have been in the game for a while.  Check out these tips on starting a budget, sticking to it, and putting your money in the right places.  

Published 10/04/2022


Extended Rate Locks: Discover the Ins and Outs

With an Extended Rate Lock, you can lock in your rate for anywhere from 60 to 120 days (or even more, for some lenders), depending on your specific loan. While this may be a good option for some buyers, there are a few potential downsides to keep in mind.

Published 9/28/2022


Should You Consider a Tiny Home?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a large uptick in the trend of “tiny homes”. To some, it may seem crazy to live in such a small space – typically less than 400 square feet – but there are quite a few benefits that could have you considering this option for your next house.

Published 9/20/2022


4 Hints to Attracting the Right Homebuyer

There are many things about your home that could be turning off potential buyers, even things you’ve never noticed before. Some things – like location, square footage, and the number of bedrooms – would be impossible or very expensive to change. But luckily, there are a few quick ways that you can make your home appealing to someone looking to buy.

Published 9/13/2022


4 Insurance Types to Know Before Your Next Home Purchase

When buying a new home, you’ll likely find that there are many more costs associated with real estate transactions than you initially realized. One of the biggest additional costs many buyers run into is insurance. While it may be confusing to try to understand all the different types of insurance, it’s important to do your research and make sure you are well-covered in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Published 9/6/2022


Moving with Children 101

Moving homes is a big change, no matter your age. But for children especially, the thought of moving can be scary, confusing, or just plain upsetting. So how can you make this transition easier for your kids? There are a few key things that will make this big step seem more like a fun adventure and less like a scary change.

Published 8/30/2022


Tips for Making Moving Easy as Pie

So you finally bought your dream house – congratulations! Now the hard part is over, right? Well… not quite.

It’s no secret - moving homes is one of the most stressful things you can do. Whether you’re packing up for a cross-country move or settling just down the street from your current place, moving is no easy feat. But, the good news is, there are a few ways to make the whole process easier on yourself! Read on to learn more about making your next move easy as pie.

Published 8/23/2022


When is the Right Time to Refinance My Mortgage?

When you first signed your mortgage, it’s pretty likely you thought to yourself: 30 years is a very long time. Am I ready to make that sort of a commitment?

Well, we can’t tell you whether you were actually ready or not, but what we can tell you is that refinancing is always an option. This means that if you don’t like the terms or structure of your mortgage, there is a real possibility you can change them.

Published 8/17/2022


5 Ways Realtors Can Create a Sense of Urgency Know

As a real estate agent, you likely encounter a lot of people who are “kind of interested” in buying a home but, for whatever reason, are hesitant to take any sort of tangible action.

There are quite a few objections real estate agents are likely to encounter. “I want to save up just a little bit more before making a down payment”, “We’re currently waiting for the market to change”, and “I don’t know if I’m ready to buy just yet” are just a few of the most common.

Published 8/9/2022


What is a Buyer’s Agent in Real Estate? Everything You Need to Know

In every real estate transaction that you will ever encounter, there will be two parties involved: the buyer and the seller.

And because most people are somewhat unfamiliar with the general real estate process—a process that can take anywhere from a few days to a few months—each of these parties will likely need to get some help along the way.

Published 8/2/2022


Why an FSBO (For Sale By Owner) can Hurt Your Chances of Selling

If it is your first time selling a home, you might be shocked to learn just how much some real estate agents charge to sell—it is not uncommon to come across fees of three percent or even more. That means that if your home is currently worth $400,000, you might end up paying a real estate agent as much as $12,000 in order to complete the sale.

Published 7/26/2022


5 Reasons Why Location is (Still) the Key Driver of Homeowner Value

When you are trying to determine the value of a home, there will be many different factors you will want to keep in mind. It’s important to always carefully inspect and examine the home before making a purchase, even if you don’t plan on living there for very long. In fact, failure to closely examine the underlying value of a home can potentially cost you tens of thousands of dollars—especially if you are an out-of-state investor trying to enter into a fast-growing market.

Published 7/19/2022


Tips and Tricks For a Trendy & Fashionable Home

Whether you’re fixing up your house to sell or just making some changes to your current place, keeping up with interior design trends can be a bit overwhelming. While there are tons of magazines, websites, and social channels where you can get inspiration, sometimes it’s easier to pick one or two things to try out

Published 7/12/2022


Planning on Moving? Be Sure to Check These Items Off Your To-Do List

Moving is always a pretty major milestone in life. According to a recent estimate published by the Census, the average American moves about 11.7 times over the course of their life—about once every seven years.

However, while the moving process can often be very exciting, there is no denying that there are usually a lot of different steps involved. Having a checklist can usually be very helpful, which is why we’ve compiled this helpful list below (organized in stages):

Published 7/5/2022


Applying for a Mortgage?  Be Sure to Ask Yourself These Essential Questions

Securing a mortgage is, undoubtedly, the easiest path to homeownership. With a mortgage, you can potentially secure a lot of property for relatively little money. These days, many mortgage lenders are willing to issue mortgages to those who put just five percent down—or even less. That means that someone with $20,000 could, theoretically, secure a home worth as much as $400,000 without needing to jump through any additional hoops.

Published 6/29/2022


The First Six Milestones You’ll Need to Hit Before Applying for a Mortgage

Applying for a mortgage is necessary for almost anyone who wants to become a homeowner. Depending on the state of the market, your current financial situation, and other important details, the entire application and closing process can be completed in less than a week. Still, in most cases, this process will take a little bit longer, with the average amount of time it takes to close on a house typically being 30 to 45 days.

Published 6/21/2022


8 Budget-Friendly Ways to Improve Your Home Office

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, there was already a growing trend both in the United States and elsewhere around the world of people choosing to work from home. As a growing portion of our collective work is done entirely from computers, or other mobile and digital resources, the need to physically show up in an office will continue to decline.

Published 6/14/2022


When is the Best Time of Year to Buy or Sell a Home?

Though housing is something that remains in demand all year long, the housing market—just like any other commodity market—is often cyclical. While the time of the year you are looking to buy or sell your home is just one thing you should keep in mind when making a decision, it is certainly an important detail you shouldn’t overlook.

Published 6/7/2022


How Does the Federal Reserve Influence Mortgage Rates?

The mortgage market, like all markets, is constantly changing in response to major economic events. According to data published by the Federal Reserve, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage—the most common mortgage in the United States—is 4.67 percent, as of March 31, 2022. This represents a notable increase from the mortgage market’s lowest point ever, 2.65 percent (January 2021) but still remains among the most affordable getting a mortgage has ever been.

Published 5/31/2022


How much does a one percent change in mortgage rates affect the cost of a mortgage?

At face value, one percent doesn’t sound like very much. If you come across a “one percent sale” at the grocery store, you might be able to, at most, save a few dollars per week.

But when it comes to making much larger purchases, such as a home that is hundreds of thousands of dollars, one percent really can be a very big deal.

Published 5/24/2022


What is the Difference Between a Conventional and Non-Conventional Mortgage?

A mortgage is a financial instrument that enables people to fully own a home over time. Usually, this time period is 15 or 30 years (though you can pay your mortgage off sooner by paying more than the monthly minimum). However, while the definition of a mortgage might be obvious to some, there are actually many different kinds of mortgages that are currently available.

Published 5/17/2022


What is the Fair Housing Act?

In the 1960s, there were many pieces of significant legislation passed with the intention of decreasing discrimination and injustice within the United States. Among the most notable was the Civil Rights Act, passed in 1964, which eventually paved the way for additional provisions such as the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Published 5/11/2022


Mortgage Rates Are Back on the Rise: Is Now the Right Time to Buy?

As January 2022 came to a close, mortgage rates were notably on the rise. According to Freddie Mac (a major mortgage company), interest rates for a 30-year mortgage rose to 3.56 percent by the end of the month, which is the highest they had been since March 2020—just as the COVID-19 outbreak and its corresponding economic consequences were beginning to unfold.

Published 5/4/2022


4 Things to Think About When Filing Taxes As a Homeowner

Becoming a homeowner can be an exciting adventure. Once you become a homeowner, you will be able to considerably build your wealth over time through the accumulation of equity and also have the long-lasting joy that comes with having a place you can call your own.

Published 4/20/2022


What is the Lowest Credit Score I Can Have When Applying For a Mortgage?

If you are hoping to become a homeowner, you will very likely need to start by applying for a mortgage. And, for better or for worse, that usually means going through a mortgage application process during which lenders will consider a variety of different factors.

Published 4/20/2022


How Do I Know How Much Equity is in My Home?

One of the most common reasons people choose to buy a home is that, among other things, homeownership enables them to build wealth over time. Homeownership is the highest source of household equity within the United States and this is likely why owning a home is often considered to be an essential component of the “American Dream.”

Published 4/12/2022


Housewarming 101

There are lots of fun things that come along with buying a new home. From meeting new neighbors to flexing your interior design muscles to finally unpacking that last box, it seems like every day there is something new and exciting going on. One of the best parts of moving in somewhere new is showing it off to your friends and family – and a housewarming party is definitely the most fun way to do that!

Published 4/5/2022


Is It Really Cheaper To Own A Home Than To Rent One? 

There are a lot of different things you will need to think about when deciding where you want to live. Your work and social life, the type of structure you hope to live in, the neighborhood you will be living in, and other variables should all be top-of-mind whenever you are comparing your available options.

Published 3/29/2022


What Does a Mortgage Underwriter Do? 

There are many different people you will probably end up working with during the mortgage application process. Your real estate agent (which we strongly recommend working with) will help guide you along the way. Additionally, your loan officer(s) will be the main point of contact between you and the mortgage company.

Published 3/23/2022


8 Components that Affect the Property Values of Your Home 

When you watch any homebuying show, such as HGTV’s “House Hunters”, you are often surprised to see the things that bother potential homebuyers the most. People will often walk into a home and notice one small detail—the color of the cabinets, the shape of a door handle, or something along those lines—and immediately decide that the home they are looking at simply is not for them.

Published 3/15/2022


10 Tips for Saving for a Down Payment in 2022 

The beginning of a new year is a great time to set new goals—particularly financial goals. And if you are like many Americans, one of your most important financial goals might be buying a house.

Published 3/8/2022


First Option Mortgage Announces Partnership With IFOLIO

Atlanta, GA – First Option Mortgage is proud to announce its partnership with Atlanta-based tech firm iFOLIO. With iFOLIO’s innovative options for digital engagement, the collaboration aims to continue building out First Option’s online footprint as a prominent player in the mortgage industry.

Published 3/3/2022


10 Ways to Decrease the Time It Takes To Sell Your Home

According to one recent estimate from Zillow, the average American home stays on the market for 55 to 70 days. This figure is slightly down from where it was a few years ago when the average time a home spent on the market was closer to 100 days.

Published 3/1/2022


How Does Interior Design Impact the Value of Your Home?

Everyone knows just how important “curb appeal” is when comes to selling your home. If people don’t immediately like how the home looks, they will be much less likely to be enchanted by the other features of the home, such as its location, its layout, or anything else.

Published 2/22/2022


How Can I Secure a Mortgage with a "Poor" Credit Score?

For better or for worse, your credit score will affect many different components of your life. Not only will your credit score affect whether or not you are able to qualify for a particular loan, but it will also affect the interest rate that you will be expected to pay.

Published 2/15/2022


How to Check Your Credit Without a Hard Pull?

Whether or not you are in the process of buying a home—or making another big purchase that will require borrowing from a lender—it is always a good idea to know your credit score. Your credit score can affect many different components of your financial well-being, including the loans you may be able to qualify for and the interest rate that you’ll need to pay.
Published 2/8/2022


Will Mortgage Rates Remain Low in 2022?

There are many different variables that can affect the interest rate you’ll be expected to pay on your mortgage. In addition to personal factors, such as your credit score and debt-to-income ratio, your interest rate can also be affected by variables beyond your ability to control, such as the state of the broader economy.

Published 2/1/2022


6 Things to Know About Buying or Selling a Home in the Winter

There are many different things you’ll want to think about when deciding to buy or sell a home, and one of the most important is timing. If you are buying a home, you’ll ideally want to time the market so you can purchase your home when housing is undervalued. On the flip side, sellers will want to sell when houses are scarce and selling at a premium.
Published 1/26/2022


Is a VA Loan Right For Me?

In addition to serving your country, there are many benefits that come with being a veteran of the United States Military. One of the most notable benefits is the ability to access loans from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that are not available to most members of the civilian public.

Published 1/19/2022


8 Things to Think About When Refinancing Your Mortgage

Millions of American families will choose to refinance their mortgage every year. By choosing to refinance your mortgage, you can potentially get a large cash payment, lower your monthly mortgage payment, secure a lower interest rate, and enjoy many other benefits.

Published 1/12/2022


8 Signs it is the Right Time to Buy a Home

Deciding to buy a home can be one of the most exciting decisions that you will ever make. By becoming a homeowner, you will not only be able to enjoy the financial benefits of property ownership—including increased equity, tax benefits, and more—you’ll also be able to have the joy of creating a unique space you can be proud to call your own.
Published 1/5/2022


What Does a “Seller’s Market” Mean?

There are already so many things that you’ll need to think about when buying or selling a home but one of the most important variables people tend to overlook is timing. In order to make sure you are getting a great deal while selling your home (or finding a steal while buying one), you’ll need to be able to effectively read the market.


The Top 8 Things to Avoid Before Buying a Home

Everyone knows that buying a home can be incredibly stressful—albeit, very rewarding. The home buying process involves a lot of attention to detail, financial planning, and a willingness to cooperate with each of your potential lenders.  There are plenty of lists of things you should do when preparing to close on the house of your dreams. But what about the things you shouldn’t do, no matter how tempting they might be?


Tips for Obtaining a Home Loan When You’re Self-Employed

There are so many great things about being self-employed. People who are self-employed enjoy a significant degree of freedom, while still making valuable contributions to our economy. Currently, there are more than 20 million people in the United States who qualify as “self-employed”, which represents about 12 percent of the working population.


10 Questions Every First-Time Homebuyer Needs to Ask

Buying your first home can be very exciting—but it can also be very intimidating. Owning a home involves much more than renting an apartment does, meaning there are many often overlooked factors you’ll want to be sure to think about.


What is an HOA?

Depending on who you ask, homeowner associations might be considered a great way to protect and maintain the value of your largest asset—they also might be considered an unnecessary nuisance. Here are some of the most important things to know about HOAs.


8 Ways to Improve your Credit Score

For better or for worse, your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life. Not only will your credit score determine whether you will be able to access credit (or even buy a home), it will also affect the interest rates you pay for any loans you might need to take out.


Homeowner Move-in Checklist

You’ve decided to take the big leap and become a homeowner. First of all, we’d like to say congratulations—owning a home is a huge milestone that will continue to benefit you and your family for many years to come. What's next?


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