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5 Ways To Increase Your Home’s Value

July 30, 2020

Suburban home backyard view with solar panels.Your home’s worth is determined by multiple facets, such as the local market, neighborhood "comps" and geographical location. Circumstances like that tend to be out of your control. However, other elements that can increase your home’s value are very much in your control. Below are five approaches you can take to increase your equity and the resale value of your home.


1. First Impressions Are Everything

An unkempt exterior is not just an eyesore to the neighbors, but also to the home owner’s equity and resale value. The exterior is the first thing a potential buyer would see so it’s important to put care and effort in making it look great.

This doesn’t mean it needs extravagant changes in landscaping but there are a few things to consider for improvements.

Repainting the house is a great start, as is adding a nice front door. Adding some nutrients to the grass, and keeping it groomed and watered, could help give it a healthy glow. Try adding some foliage, flowers and even a garden to really accent the yard. A smooth driveway and clear pathway to the front door would also help make the outside inviting.


2. Make It Hospitable

Some people look for a house that needs a lot of work so they can ‘flip’ it. But the majority of home buyers are looking for a place which is livable right away.

To entice the latter group of buyers, it’s important to take the time to fix things like the roof, the basement, a dilapidating shed or garage, and plumbing.

If a buyer feels like they can move in and feel at home right away within comfortable surroundings, it will be more enticing for them to purchase.


3. Everyone Loves Efficiency

More thought is put into the efficiency of a home these days than in the past. Energy efficient products can have a big impact on a buyer’s mindset as they help keep utility bills down, their new home comfortable and perhaps even ease their conscience.

There are a number of ways you can make your home more energy efficient. From spray foam insulation to solar panels, LED interior and exterior lights, appliances and casement windows, there are plenty of opportunities to make your home a greener space to live.

To help with such improvement costs, First Source offers Home Energy Loans, with low interest rates, all to help those wishing to increase the value of their home with long-lasting benefits.


4. More Space, More Value

If you’re looking to add value to your home, adding square footage will certainly do the trick.

Building additions to the home is one way to do this, creating new rooms, a small pool house or perhaps even a second floor. There are also other ways to add living space that do not require creating brand new additions. Refurbishing an attic or even a garage can create new rooms and additional living space without erecting new walls and roofs. You could also consider enclosing a patio, adding a porch to the front or back of the house, and also a large shed as a gathering area in the backyard.

Any of these options can create more room and more value to your home.


5. Smart Home, Smart Choice

You may have heard of the term Smart City or Smart Home before. If you haven’t, or if you’re not quite sure what a Smart Home is, think of it like your Smartphone. You can do many things with your phone like pay bills, transfer money, find directions, listen to music, take pictures, read the news, keep appointment reminders and a plethora of other daily tasks. A Smart Home is very similar in concept.

Smart Homes allow the homeowner the opportunity to have many things connected in one place, usually controlled from one device like your phone. Lights, water, security alarms, door openers, central air, entertainment systems, appliances, windows and even heated floor tiles can all be connected and controlled as long as there is an internet/WiFi connection.


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If you’re looking to increase the value of your home with upgrades, we're here to discuss your Home Equity Loan Options and help you Improve Smarter. Click below to begin the form submission process.

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Posted in: Home Equity Loan

A Shift In Savings Strategies

July 29, 2020

A woman reviews her finances from her home.Forming New Spending and Saving Habits

COVID-19 has caused shifts in many of the things we do that make up our daily lives. One major shift has been with money management. 

What have you noticed about your spending habits in the past few months? With stores, restaurants, venues, attractions and so many other places closed during lockdown and beyond, the options to spend money outside of our home, other than online shopping, or for essentials, were few and far between. In that time at home, away from our usual daily stops, we were given the opportunity to reflect upon our past spending habits.

We’ve been able to look at that daily cup of coffee we used to get on the way to work, the places we’d go to on our lunch breaks, and meeting friends out on the weekends with a different view. All of a sudden that money wasn’t being spent. It was being, more or less, saved. People are now spending less, saving more, and planning ahead. 

Statistics show that over the past 5 months, including both during quarantine and post quarantine, entertainment, social activities, traveling (even gasoline) and impulse buying are all down. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. According to CUNA Mutual Group’s Trends Report, indicating COVID-19 impacts, personal spending fell 13.6% while savings balances in credit unions rose 4.7% in April. Consumers, it seems, have been sticking to purchasing essentials only- and only when needed.

This shift in spending, along with stimulus checks and relief loans, have helped to ease the financial burden of furlough and layoffs, enabling many of us to get by. Even for those that may have been fortunate enough to continue working in an essential industry, we still see those consumers driving less, eating out less, traveling less, shopping less, etc. This has helped increase the balance of their savings. 

If you have been able to create some pockets of extra funds, now is the perfect time to consider looking at your budget and deciding more strategically on what it is you really need. It is a time to scrutinize your own past habits and channel those funds to what is really important. Use our Budget Calculator to find out your net monthly and yearly income.

Paying owed bills is certainly a great start. Paying off loans is yet another. Once loan payments are more manageable, or possibly gone quicker than you were expecting, you can take the money you were using to make those payments and use it for something else- like building up your savings again. 

If this experience has taught us anything about our spending habits, it’s to consider planning ahead with serious, realistic goals of saving. 

To help you get going on starting a new savings strategy, try a Term Share Certificate or Money Market Account. These are great places to save that can earn higher dividends.

Can you refinance and consolidate your debt? Rates are very low right now on car loansmortgageshome equities and more.

Use this helpful Savings Goal Calculator to find out how long it will take you to reach your savings goal.

If you have questions, we are here to help. 

Buying A Home

July 9, 2020

Couple reviewing their finances so they can buy a home.The Cost of Buying

Buying a home can be a big step, and an important one. You want a home you and your family will be happy in for as long as you own it. 

We can help you figure out how much you can realistically afford.

Begin by defining your goals. Consider where you want to live, the features you're looking for, and what you feel is a comfortable monthly payment. We’ll work with you to ensure you factor in all of the variables like down payment, closing costs, etc.

Check out this quick tool to help give a rough idea of what you may be able to afford today.

There are other financial and personal factors that could determine what kind of mortgage loan you might be eligible for. For example, if you are a Veteran, new home buyer, have certain income thresholds, etc.

First Source has a systematic process we’ve developed over the years to make your experience as easy and as smooth as possible. This is an important milestone in your life and we want to make sure you can reach it with financial stability. That is why we will communicate with you through every step along the way.

Learn more about our mortgage loans and programs today. 

Mortgage: Learn More


Article adapted from Banzai.

Posted in: Mortgage

Home Equity Loan vs. Line of Credit

March 2, 2020

Finding the solution that works for you

Both a Home Equity Loan and Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) involve borrowing money against the equity you’ve built up in your home. Each has its own benefits, depending on how, and when, you plan to spend the money, as well as how you’ll pay it down. While often this type of loan is used for major home improvements and renovations, you can actually use it for many different purposes: college expenses, traveling, paying for a wedding, paying down debt, and more.


What is Home Equity?

Home equity is the difference between your home’s fair market value and the outstanding (remaining) balance of all liens on your home. As you make payments on your mortgage, or if your home’s value increases, your equity grows. We can help you determine your home’s equity. Since these two home equity solutions mean borrowing against the value of your home, they’re considered secure loans, with your home as the collateral. Each option is essentially a second mortgage. 


What Are The Benefits of a Home Equity Loan?

A home equity loan has a fixed amount, with a specific payment schedule, so repayment is predictable. It can often be combined with your original mortgage to simplify monthly payments at a fixed interest rate. If you’re approved, you receive the entire amount up front. This can make a Home Equity Loan preferable for a large purchase like a new pool, or to pay off a one-time expense like a wedding. The interest can also offer potential tax benefits (consult your tax advisor).


What Is A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)?

A HELOC is a revolving line of credit, with a maximum amount from which you can pull from up to a certain number of years, with a variable interest rate, similar to how a credit card works. It also provides for draw period extensions, meaning you can continue to borrow from the line.


What Are The Benefits of a Home Equity Line of Credit?

If you receive approval for a HELOC, you can decide when to use the available funds. As you need money over a longer period of time, you can draw as you need it. After you withdraw funds, you’ll have a minimum repayment due, though you can usually pay off more. While a Home Equity Loan provides immediate funds for a one-time larger purchase, a HELOC is generally recommended for purchases made in smaller amounts, such as home renovations spread out over weeks or months. The interest on a HELOC may also offer you tax benefits (consult your tax advisor), depending on what you use it for.


Not Sure What’s Right For You?

A number of factors go into deciding which home equity solution will work for your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Make an appointment to see us, and we can help you Live Smarter by together deciding which is best for you.

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Different Types of Mortgages

March 8, 2017

Live Smarter by knowing the types and differences

The most common mortgage loan types are Conventional, FHA, VA, and Home Possible. All have flexible rates and terms available, to include fixed or adjustable rate structures.

Conventional Loan
This type of mortgage allows you to finance up to 95% of the purchase price (or appraised value), can possibly have a shorter processing time, and same-day qualification if you are “credit qualified”. Flexible rates and terms are available.

FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Loan
An FHA Loan is a great choice for first-time home buyers, shoppers who need a low down payment, or those with less than perfect credit. This type of loan allows the seller to contribute up to 6% toward closing costs and prepaid items. Flexible rates and terms are available.

VA Loan
This type of mortgage is available to Veterans and their surviving spouses, and is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The mortgage company works directly with the VA, since each loan is unique to a veteran’s individual situation. A VA Loan allows for 100% financing of the purchase price or appraised value, for owner-occupied properties with one to two units. The applicant must be an eligible veteran. Similar to the FHA Loan, the seller can contribute up to 6% toward closing costs and prepaid items. Flexible rates and terms are available.

Home Possible
Through our partnership with Homeowners Advantage, we offer this unique program. Home Possible allows low and moderate income borrowers to finance a home with low down payments, and flexible sources of funds. Members must qualify by income and other factors.

The Mortgage Process

Preapproval
Before you shop for a home, it’s a good idea to find out how much you can afford to spend, an estimate of your closing costs and pre-paids, and your estimated monthly payment.

Our preapproval process is quick and easy. It can either be over the phone, or in person. Call us at 315-735-8571. We can “crunch the numbers” and help you find an affordable mortgage solution that meets your needs.

Once you are preapproved, we will give you a preapproval letter which you can use to make your purchase offer. This gives you negotiating power!

Buying Your Home
Once you chose the house you’d like to buy, you and your realtor will prepare a purchase contract. Once all parties agree on a purchase price and a contract is signed by all involved parties, you’ll complete a formal mortgage application. An application will be the start of the mortgage process, which will include the order of your appraisal, meeting all conditions, and more. We’ll help you every step of the way.

Commitment Letter
When your loan is approved, you will receive a commitment letter. At this stage, you will be required to buy an insurance policy on your new home. You will need to purchase this policy prior to your closing. Proof of this purchase is called an “insurance binder”, and will be necessary to provide before scheduling your closing.

Common Mortgage Questions

What is the difference between types of Mortgages?
There are many different types of Mortgages to choose from, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each. The best option for you will be based on a number of factors, including your experience with home-ownership, the amount you have saved for a down payment, the location and condition of the home, your credit score, and your income. The best way to find what’s right for you is by talking to one of our knowledgeable Originators.

How much money will I need to buy a home?
The amount of cash that is necessary depends on a number of items. Generally speaking, though, you will need to supply:

  • Earnest Money - The deposit that is required when you make an offer on the house
  • Down payment - A percentage of the cost of the home that is due at closing
  • Closing costs - Costs associated with processing the purchase or refinance of a house
  • Prepaid-Escrow set up for real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance.

Our friendly and helpful staff can prepare an estimate to meet your particular situation.

What is PMI?
In the event you do not have a 20% down payment, lenders will allow a smaller down payment, as low as 3%. Without a 20% down payment, borrowers are required to carry private mortgage insurance, also known as PMI. This premium will be added to your monthly payment (or you can choose to pay it up front).

What are “points” on a Mortgage?
A point is a fee that may be assessed at closing by the lender to obtain a more favorable interest rate. Each point is equal to 1% of the loan amount (e.g. two points on a $100,000 mortgage would equate to $2,000). Generally speaking, the longer you plan to remain in the property, the more advantageous it is to purchase points. There is no requirement to pay discount points.

We can answer other mortgage questions you may have, and make your mortgage process easier.


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