Blog


Fall Foliage

Sep 12
9:00
AM
Category | General

Whether you’re moving this Autumn or want to plan a fall weekend getaway, you may be curious to see the 2019 Fall Foliage predictions. 

As the days grow shorter during this time of year, trees react to the decrease in sunlight. Their color and vibrancy can also be affected by temperature, weather conditions, and drought. Taking all this into consideration, it is possible to predict when leaves will start shifting tones from green to yellow, to orange, and then to crimson. 

Around the first week of September, trees in the northernmost states and some areas around the Rocky Mountains will start changing color. By early October, most of New England, the Rockies, the Sierra Nevadas, areas around the Great Lakes, and the Pacific Northwest will be bright with color. In mid-November, peak color will be visible only in the southeastern states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. 

For an incredible interactive US map depicting the color changes from September through November, visit:  https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/ 

Are you a dedicated leaf peeper? Here are some other ways to incorporate the beautiful colors of fall into your home and life: 

  • Accent linens (towels, throw pillows, blankets, bedding) 

  • Autumnal wreaths 

  • Scarves and knit hats in your favorite warm hue 

  • Cook with seasonal vegetables such as squash 

  • For the techie – switch out your phone and computer wallpaper! 

Remember, no matter where you enjoy your fall fix, you can apply online with Easy Street powered by Norcom Mortgage. 


Back to School House Organization

Aug 23
11:02
AM
Category | General

Somehow, it’s that time of year again. If you live in a household with children, or if you are currently studying, there may be some ways to ease back into the school routine. We’ve rounded up five home organization ideas that could help you and your family stay on top of a routine and reduce stress! 

  1. Improve storage by the entryway to your home.  
    It is tempting to walk into your space after a long day and drop everything on the floor. But if you (and your kids) can take 60 seconds to put shoes into a bin or on a shoe rack, and hang up jackets, hats, backpacks, or briefcases, it will reduce clutter throughout the rest of the home. Plus, it will make getting ready the next morning much easier, which is essential in a busy household! If you have small children, you can color coordinate bins and hooks for each family member to help keep it fun and separate items. 

  1. Create a breakfast and/or snack bar or drawer.  
    In the mornings, for most working individuals or families, time is of the essence. For adults, a coffee and breakfast “station” means having a designated spot for your coffee maker, mugs (or likely thermoses for most!), breakfast bars, and fruit. This can streamline your morning routine and reduce the chance that you leave behind your morning cup of joe! For children who want an after-school snack, some families may decide to dedicate a lower cabinet drawer for snacks that are easily reachable. If you shop at a bulk store, it might be easier to stock up on some favorite shelf-stable snacks such as nuts, bars, or crackers. 

  1. Choose a designated homework spot.  
    Whether at the kitchen table or a desk, having a designated spot for daily homework can increase focus. This also helps make sure completed books or homework papers end up back in schoolbags for the next day. Avoid the temptation of working on the couch or bed and save those spots for when it is time to relax or sleep! 

  1. Organize your laundry.  
    Don’t waste time in the morning searching for that one shirt just to find it sitting in the dirty hamper. Figure out a laundry “schedule” that works for your family, whether that is doing all the whites, colors, and darks on separate nights of the week, or washing athletic clothes and work clothes on separate evenings. If you can, consider creating a “capsule” wardrobe of a few staple items that all work well together. By reducing the number of clothing items, you also reduce the amount of time you spend doing laundry! 

  1. Meal prep.  
    Many individuals have adopted this trend in the last few years as a way to stay on top of their healthy eating plans. But this method of cooking and storing portions of meals can work for a whole family too. Get the kids involved with prep on Sundays by making a whole week worth of lunches and dinners. Save time and money by making staple items such as brown rice that can be paired with beans and vegetables, fish, chicken, or added to salads. You can also make a larger batch of pasta and divide it into containers with several different types of sauces. Hard boiled eggs can also last for the week as snacks or on sandwiches and salads. Just don’t cut your avocados ahead of time, as they will be brown and unappetizing in the blink of an eye! 

If you or your family are getting ready to go back to school, knowing that you have a comfortable house to come home to is a great way to end every day! If something about your space just isn’t quite working with your school year needs, maybe it's time to think about remodeling a part of your home! Give a Norcom loan officer a call about a Renovation Loan. 


How to Choose Between Two Houses

Aug 5
1:29
PM
Category | General

So, you’ve been on the hunt for the perfect home, but instead of finding only one option, you’ve found two! What do you do next?

For most people, cost will likely be the first deciding factor. But if you are still on the fence, we’ve outlined six important elements we hope will help with the decision-making process:

Location

First and foremost, compare the location of each home. How close are they to the important amenities that you use most? Visit both homes during daytime and evening hours to get a feel for neighborhood noise levels, traffic, and general atmosphere of safety.

Renovation Potential

If you love the “bones” of both homes but know they will need significant upgrades, are you prepared to put in the work? Or is one of them more move-in-ready than the other? It is also important to consider whether the renovations are worth the time and expense to add to the value of the home.

Expenses

Two houses with the same purchase price could have very different associated expenses! Research estimated property taxes, especially if each house is in a different town. If you are looking at condos, be sure to compare condo fees. Another factor to consider is the home’s efficiency, and how pricey it may be to heat and cool the home.

Size and Storage

Depending on your current living situation, moving could mean scaling up or down in your stuff. Will your furniture fit in the new location, or will it feel like you’re in a dollhouse? When touring the two homes, pay attention to closet, basement, attic, and garage space. Think of the seasonal items and holiday décor (among other things that you may not want to unpack right away) that you will want to be able to store safely in your new space.

Current Owners' Décor

Falling in love with the current owners’ décor is an easy trap to fall into. You have toured two homes and love them both. But are you really in love with the blank slate of the home, or is it the current owners’ décor or the realtor’s staging? Remember that it will be your furniture filling the rooms, so it is most important to love the home itself rather than the current style. Of course, after moving in, you can restyle the home in any way you want!

Resale Value

Even if you have no plans of reselling your new home for many years, it is always important to think about the investment you are making. Consider the two properties’ potential resale value and don’t be afraid to ask your realtor’s opinion for this as well.

 

We recommend writing down the pros and cons of each potential new home, including ranking each category in order of their importance to you. Be honest with yourself about what your top priorities are!

Going through this process can really help visualize the pros and cons and help lead to a sound decision, especially if you and your partner are torn between two locations. Remember, your Norcom Mortgage loan officer can get you pre-approved and lock your interest rate with our JumpStart Pre-Approval Rate Assurance program while you take time to make this important decision. Happy house hunting!


Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or its been many years since you last went through the mortgage process, there are bound to be questions that come up along the way. You should never feel embarrassed to ask your loan officer any question, no matter how simple you may think it is. However, if you want to start with some mortgage basics, here are the answers to five questions you may feel shy about asking - but shouldn’t! 

1. Am I considered a First-Time Homebuyer? 

This may seem like an obvious question, but the answer may surprise you. In the mortgage industry, you are considered a first-time homebuyer if you have never purchased a home, if you have not owned or co-owned a home in the last three years, or if you’ve fulfilled the necessary waiting period after a foreclosure or short sale. 

2. What is the difference between a home appraisal and an inspection? 

home appraisal provides information on the value of a home, decided by several factors including, but not limited to, the location of the home, proximity to schools and facilities, size of the lot, size and condition of the home itself, and recent sale prices of comparable properties. A certified appraiser formulates this value for the lender, and it is an essential part of the mortgage process.  

An inspection provides information to the buyer about the home’s current condition and will note any existing or potential future issues. An inspector will notify a buyer about any areas that are in need of repair. This can help the buyer to negotiate a better purchase offer or at the very least, be aware of the conditions in the home they wish to purchase. 

3. What is an interest rate? 

Like a credit card or auto loan, a mortgage will have an interest rate. Interest is simply defined as the cost to borrow money from your lender. The interest rate is expressed as a percentage of your total loan balance and is paid on a monthly basis, along with your principal payment, until your loan is paid off. Your interest rate is determined by several factors, including the current economy, your credit score, the loan amount, and more. 

4. What is DTI? 

The debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is a personal finance measure that compares an individual’s monthly debt payment to his or her monthly gross income. Your mortgage loan officer will calculate your DTI, and let you know what amount you are qualified to borrow. 

5. How long will this process take? 

Everyone’s loan scenario is unique and while we cannot give an exact timeline, we are proud that at Norcom, 85% of our loans close in 30 days or less. If you are interested in closing in a timely manner, we suggest you call a Norcom Loan Officer to get pre-approved. With our JumpStart Pre-Approval Program with Rate Assurance, we can lock in your interest rate for 90 days while you search for the right home!


Are you one of the many Americans dreaming of buying your first home, but don’t quite feel ready? People delay homeownership for many reasons; some are unsure where to settle down, some have poor credit and fear they won’t get approved. As a mortgage company, we understand that every person has a different path to homeownership. If you foresee a home purchase in the next few years, now is the best time to start preparing, and we’re here to help! 

Just as with any project, your preparation will set the stage for your success. Think of your first homebuying experience as your largest personal project yet!  

Step one: Identify Your Goal 

*Phew*, that one was easy! You’ve already completed step one, your goal is to purchase a home. 

Step two: Research  

Have you made a choice about where you’d like to live? Researching towns is an important part of the process. You will want to evaluate average home prices for the area, consider potential property taxes, crime rates, and school ratings, and, more personally, determine the proximity to amenities that are important to you. 

Step three: Set a Timeline 

Just like registering for a race inspires a runner to kickstart their training, establishing a homebuying timeline can help a prospective homebuyer kickstart their preparation! Most importantly, be sure to set a realistic and achievable goal. If your aim is to purchase a home within two years, think about what you will need to do over the next 24 months to make that a reality. Are you allowing enough time to improve your credit score? Is there enough time and money each month to save for an ideal down payment?  

Step four: Take Action 

With a prospective closing date in mind, do your best to stay on track toward your goal: 

  • If you haven't yet, you should check your current credit score. It is wise to figure this out as soon as possible. Once you know, you will be able to see where you need to do work to improve it. Whether it is paying down credit cards, or enlisting the help of a credit repair service, your credit score is crucial to the mortgage application process. It is best to start preparing now! 

  • It is wise to start saving what you can, even though there are loan products that offer little or no down payment options. Remember that there will be closing costs, moving expenses, as well as repairs and furnishings to include in your budget. For a goal of collecting $20,000 over the next two years, you would need to save $833 each month. If you can’t find room in your budget to set that aside every month, consider extending your timeline a bit longer. If someone in your life will be gifting you funds to assist in the home purchase, try to discuss what that amount will be, so you can adjust your own savings plan accordingly. (If you plan to use gifted funds, you will need to have a gift letter documenting it; your Norcom Loan Originator will be happy to assist you with preparing one.) 

Step five: Talk to your Loan Originator 

Following these preparatory steps, you will be in a good place when you are ready to start the official home buying process. When the time is right, talk to a trusted Norcom Mortgage Loan Originator about getting pre-approved!


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