During the peak of summer, you might do whatever it takes to stay cool. Before you run to turn your thermostat down in the peak of summer, keep in mind the monetary cost to keeping your home’s temperature regulated. Saving money and energy go hand in hand, and you can do both by being strategic about how you cool your home. We’re sharing some helpful tips so you’ll know how to save money and energy during the summer.

Cool Down
Instead of immediately turning to your AC for relief, turn on your ceiling fan to help circulate air. Using fans can help you feel up to 8 degrees cooler without the need to lower your thermostat. Make sure it’s spinning counterclockwise so that air is blowing down on you. Don’t waste energy, so be sure to turn it off when you leave the room.

The hottest time of the day is generally between 4 and 6 p.m. During this period, try reducing the amount of sunlight coming into your home by adjusting your curtains and blinds accordingly. In the evening, consider having your windows open while you sleep. Additionally, check the windows themselves for any air leaks. You can re-caulk or add weather stripping to prevent unwanted airflow to and from your home.

Another sensible way to help keep your energy bill down is to keep the thermostat at a higher temperature when you aren’t home. There’s no use for your house to be cool when there’s no one to enjoy it. When you’re inside, make it a goal to keep the thermostat set at 78°F. The closer your home’s temperature is to outside conditions, the more you will save on your energy. Try keeping the temperature as high possible without sacrificing your comfort. You shouldn’t be sweating in your house, but you don’t need to blast the AC, either. By keeping your thermostat 7°-10° back from its normal setting, you can save up to 10% a year on heating and cooling.

If you don’t already own one, consider switching to a programmable thermostat to have more control over your home’s temperature. This can help you save energy and money in the long run because it’s more precise than traditional thermostats; you can even automate its settings to your family’s schedule!

Air Conditioner
Servicing the air conditioner itself is integral to making your cooling system run optimally. Every few weeks, check on your air conditioner’s filter to see if it needs replacing. When there is an excessive amount of dirt in the filter, it takes more energy to push the air through it. Your HVAC system should also be serviced yearly to ensure it’s working properly. When your AC is running effectively, you’re on your way to saving money.

Off-Peak Hours
Regardless of where you live, there is a peak energy period throughout the day. More people are using energy, and rates are higher during those times. Though the ranges vary by location, season, and utility company, off-peak energy times are typically early morning and evening. If you’re able to, limit using heat generating appliances like the oven, washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher during the slower times.

Resisting the urge to turn down your cooling units might seem counterintuitive at first. Rest assured, you might not even notice the difference in the air temperature, but you’ll be able to see the difference on your energy bill. Understanding what household actions use the most energy and how to minimize your usage will help you keep utility costs down.

If you have any questions about the home buying process, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to buy a home, click here to get started!

There are many moving parts when it comes to buying or selling a home, and active duty personnel have additional factors to consider. You might believe you can’t become a homeowner until you’ve left the military, but you can begin to build wealth while serving. Likewise, you may think your job will make selling your home a huge hassle. Neither of these need to be the case for you and your family. Read these tips for buying and selling a home in the military.

Buying in the Military

If you’ve determined buying will benefit you more than renting and your orders are in place, start researching your home financing options. In preparation for applying for loans, you should be actively trying to improve your credit score. Though there are several government-backed loans with flexible credit requirements, you should put yourself in the best financial position possible during the loan process.

One of the first questions you’ll be asking yourself is how you’ll pay for your future home. The VA loan is an excellent way for veterans and active duty military members to become homeowners, since there’s no down payment and credit requirements are more lenient. If you chose to apply for a VA loan, make sure you have enough saved for closing costs. Though this loan program is especially for service members, it’s wise to look into other programs to find the one that’s best for your needs.

Now that you have a plan for financing the home purchase, the next logical question is how you will pay the mortgage. As a military member, you can apply for a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). BAH is available for service members who don’t live in government housing, and it can be put towards your mortgage payments. The amount of BAH you’re eligible to receive is dependent on local housing costs, your rank, and whether you have dependents.

At this point, it will be important to find a reliable real estate agent and lender to help you with your home purchase. Your lender should have experience working with military borrowers, so they can understand your needs and ensure all loan requirements are met. You’ll need to show your lender your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) when applying for a VA loan and Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) if you intend to use your BAH to pay your mortgage. It’s always a good idea to borrow less than what you’re qualified for to leave breathing room in your finances.

Selling in the Military

When selling your home, get started on the process as soon as you get your orders to move. Since your move will be on a deadline, everything will likely be at a faster pace than a civilian relocation. A good first step is to find a trustworthy real estate agent to help you with the sale. If the agent has strong experience working with military families, even better. During this time, do the prep work needed to make your home sellable including deep cleaning, decluttering, yard work, and repairs. You can even start packing some of your things for when the house sells. Once preliminary work is done, stage your home to make it appealing to buyers. After the home has sold, you can start increasing your moving efforts.

As an active duty service member, the military provides certain moving services to you to facilitate everything. Depending on the nature of your move, you may be able to transport your belongings using a Personally Procured Move (PPM) or Household Goods Move (HHG). Keep in mind your rank, length of assignment, and new station location will affect how much of your belongings you can take and whether your family can come or not. Always refer to your orders for specific information and use your local personal property office as a resource for your move. If you need to relocate but don’t want to sell your home, consider renting your property while you’re away. If your home’s location is in a lucrative area for rentals, you could rent it out to pay the mortgage. While this option may not be feasible for everyone, it could pay off for some people.

Your military career and lifestyle don’t have to prevent you from becoming a homeowner and building wealth. You can sell your home and relocate without feeling lost—there are many resources to make things easier for you. When you know what to expect when homebuying or selling while in the military, you can navigate the process with fewer hiccups.

If you’re interested in how to become a homeowner while you complete your service, contact one of our Licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the process, click here to get started!

Do you know when you should replace your roof? If your answer was, “when it starts to rain inside”, that’s far too late. Your roof is one of the most important elements to your home’s comfort and structural integrity, so don’t wait until you have to put buckets around the house to get your roof fixed. Here are some signs you should recognize that let you know it’s time to replace your roof.

The age of your roof is one factor that will impact when you should replace it. If you have asphalt shingles, they can last 15-20 years. Roofing made from sturdier material, such as slate or metal, can last even longer. For homeowners with asphalt roofs, it is a good idea to replace it after 20 years.

The collective wear and tear on your roof is extremely important to look for when surveying the condition of your roof. The overall health of the shingles is often a good indicator of your roof’s health. Check to see if your shingles are curled at the edges or appear to be bubbling. Wherever you see shingles that aren’t laying flat, it’s a strong indication that the shingle is damaged and not effectively repelling the elements. Be on the lookout for shingles that are balding or completely missing. While it’s normal for shingles to lose some of their grittiness over time, what isn’t normal is for your shingles to shed en masse. If your house has a chimney, you should inspect the flashing around it to see that it’s not damaged. Flashing is a barrier that seals the space where the chimney joins to the roof, and if this area isn’t intact, your house will be more susceptible to leaks. Of course, if your roof appears to sag, the structure is no longer properly supported and needs to be replaced.

Perhaps the most severe signs can be seen from inside the house, which means you should replace your roof as soon as possible. Inspect your attic during the daytime to see if sunlight shines through the ceiling. If you see light coming through, it’s evident you need to replace your roof. Look at your ceiling and the top of your walls—if you see mold or signs of water damage, you have leaks in the roof which requires an entire overhaul. In instances where you see fungal growth, it’s highly recommended that you call mold specialists to remove it.

Depending on the nature and severity of these roofing issues, you may be able to just repair the affected shingles rather than replacing everything. A reliable and certified roofing contractor should be able to tell you if patching will suffice. The best ways to keep your roof in good condition are to get a reliable contractor to install it and actively make smaller repairs to extend its lifespan. Maintaining the upkeep on your home will be important in building home equity. Replacing your roof is not a job that should be put aside; taking care of your roof is essential for taking care of your entire house.

If you have any questions about how to maintain your home, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying or selling process, click here to get started!

COVID-19 has shaken up most people’s lives and plans in a way many have never experienced before. If you were planning on selling, buying, or refinancing a home before COVID-19, you don’t need to put off your plans. NFM Lending is continuously adapting to market and industry changes to best serve you and your family. Read on to find out how NFM Lending can serve clients virtually.

Virtual Solutions

NFM Lending’s ongoing initiative to reduce paper usage has moved us toward a virtual experience, for those who want one, even prior to the pandemic. Almost every step of the mortgage application process can be done electronically, making the process more efficient for everyone involved. Loan applications can be completed online, as can the list of documents needed to move the loan forward. All documents can also be submitted safely through our Secure Document Upload (SDU) at your convenience using the device of your choice. For forms that require a signature, you have the option to review and sign them electronically. Though final closing documents need to be signed in front of a notary, we will let you know prior to closing so you can make arrangements with a notary and your title company.

Constant Communication

Regardless of environmental conditions, going through the mortgage or refinance process can be a daunting experience if you’re not fully informed. We have the ability to provide real-time electronic updates so you’re never in the dark about your loan. If you ever have questions about what’s going on, our loan originators and operations professionals are dedicated to answering questions and guiding you through the process. Whether you need a phone call, email, a quick text, or even a video call, NFM is here for you. Our staff is working remotely during this time, but still fully available to assist. We remain committed to ensuring you have an experience that’s as smooth as possible.

Even though there have been changes to the way we all normally do things, our mission to provide excellent service remains the same. The processes to purchase, sell, and refinance a home now may be a bit different, but they are still very doable. The technology available today will help minimize the challenges we’re facing during this pandemic. Together we will improvise, adapt, and overcome.

If you have any questions about how to proceed during this time, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators.

The federal government recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to assist Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new law includes provisions for homeowners, one of which requires loan servicers to offer mortgage forbearance. There are several misconceptions about this relief service. If you’re considering this option for yourself and your family, this is what you need to know about mortgage forbearance.

What is mortgage forbearance?

First and foremost, mortgage forbearance is NOT mortgage forgiveness. Forbearance means that your loan payments will be deferred for a certain period of time, after which you will be responsible for those payments. According to the CARES Act, your loan will accrue interest during forbearance, but it will not be subject to additional interest or fees. Some loan servicers may request multiple months’ worth of payments at the end of forbearance, so you need to contact your lender to understand their repayment terms. The CARES Act stipulates an initial forbearance period for federally backed loans of 180 days, with an extension of 180 days if requested by the borrower. Forbearance is essentially a grace period where your payments will not be due monthly in order to provide immediate relief.

Am I eligible for mortgage forbearance?

The government’s forbearance program covers mortgages backed by federally sponsored agencies: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Your loan servicer may have their own forbearance options if you did not get your mortgage through a federal program. If you’re interested in mortgage forbearance, you need to contact your loan servicer to see if you qualify and what their terms of repayment are. Call the number located on your monthly mortgage statements to reach your servicer.

What does this mean for me?

As mentioned in the CARES Act, your credit score should not be affected during forbearance, nor will you be charged any late fees. However, there is uncertainty around this topic and we’ll update this page as we get more information. One thing to be aware of is that your account will maintain the status it was in when it went into forbearance (i.e. current, delinquent, etc.) while in forbearance. If possible, be sure your account is current before going into forbearance. If you anticipate you will need more time in forbearance, reach out to your loan servicer before your initial term ends to ask what options are available. Understand that if you’re still able to make monthly mortgage payments, you should continue to make them.

This is a very uncertain and even stressful time for many homeowners, therefore it’s even more important to do your research before you sign up for any relief program. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of your loan servicer’s conditions so you won’t encounter any unpleasant surprises down the road.

If you decide forbearance isn’t for you, explore the idea of refinancing.

Did you know that April is National Lawn and Garden Month? If you don’t have a garden, now is the perfect time to cultivate one! Tending to plants is a wonderful way to get involved with nature and beautify your home. Additionally, scientific studies show that gardening can reduce stress, so it’s beneficial in many ways. Even if you’ve never put a shovel in soil, it’s easy to get started! We’re eager to help you make your yard the envy of all your neighbors with these gardening tips for beginners.

Beautiful Home With Green Grass Yard

To get started, the first thing you’ll need to decide is where to plant your greenery. Get creative with the location and layout of your plot; you don’t have to be constrained to a 4’x4’ area if you aren’t feeling it. Popular locations to consider are around your mailbox, the front yard, under a tree, the backyard, or along the side of your house. The place you choose to establish your flower bed will help guide you when picking out what plants to grow.

Once you’ve picked a spot, research what plants will thrive in those conditions. For instance, don’t plant a shade-loving plant in an exposed area or a plant that favors shade in an exposed area. Try incorporating native species into your plot so you can positively contribute to the local ecology. Native plants are also more likely to take to your environmental conditions, meaning that they can be hardier growers. Have fun picking out what colors and heights you want to include in your garden; this is the perfect opportunity to showcase your personal aesthetic!

Planting flower garden around a house

In a few weeks, your hard work will be rewarded with a beautiful garden and many compliments! Planting a garden adds natural, seasonal beauty to your yard, thus giving your home curb appeal. Even if you’re not selling your home, a garden is a great thing to maintain because it shows you put care into your property. Gardening is a hobby that will enrich your life and the environment –get digging today!

If you have any questions or want more information about how to add curb appeal to your home, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying process, click here to get started!

Have you ever wondered how paint colors get their names? When there might be more than 50 variations of a color, marketers need to get creative!

See if you can match the paint color to the name!

Paint Color Quiz 15

Paint Color Quiz 5

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Paint Color Quiz 1

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Paint Color Quiz 9

Paint Color Quiz 2

Paint Color Quiz 14

Paint Color Quiz 11

Paint Color Quiz 19

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Paint Color Quiz 3

Paint Color Quiz 6

Paint Color Quiz

Paint Color Quiz 12

Paint Color Quiz 16

Note: This blog was originally published in March 2014 and has been updated.

Not many people like filing their taxes, but there is a bright spot to completing all those forms: getting that sweet, sweet refund. You can use the money any way you’d like, but why not put it towards having a more financially stable future? Here are some great ways you can get the most out of your tax refund.

Whenever you come into extra money, it’s always a wise decision to pay off any existing debt you may have. Reducing your debt will help improve your credit score, which in turn will make it easier for you to be approved for a mortgage, car loan, or even a job. If you already own a home, put some of the extra cash towards paying off your mortgage. Applying extra payments toward to your debts now will allow you to save money going forward, because you’ll be paying down the principal and any interest that has accumulated. Having less debt not only gives you more financial freedom, but also more peace of mind.

Buying a home involves more than the cost of the actual house, and two such fees you will need to consider are down payment and closing costs. While it might not be necessary to have a 20% down payment anymore, you should still try to save at least 3-5%, and closing costs are typically 2-5% of the home price. Depending on the price of the home you want, this can be a sizable amount of money. If you put your refund towards your house fund and continue to add to it, you’ll soon save enough to cover all expenses of buying a house.

Another practical use for your refund is to finance home repairs or improvements. Most households have at least one feature that needs to be fixed or updated, and you’ll increase your home’s livability by making those needed repairs. Maintaining the upkeep of your home and making improvements can add to your home’s equity. The cost of the upgrade could even be tax deductible; you should speak with a tax preparer to see what you’re qualified to deduct. If it comes time to sell your home, it will only benefit you to already have everything in good shape.

It may be tempting to blow your refund check on a huge TV or an extravagant dinner, but consider investing in your financial future instead. By spending your refund on things that can make positive and lasting changes to your life, you can make your money work for you!

If you have any questions about using your tax return to purchase a home or for home improvements, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying process, click here to get started!

NFM Lending is not a Financial Adviser or Tax Consultant.  Please make sure to consult your own Financial Adviser or Tax Consultant regarding the use of your personal tax refund.

Spring is a season so beautiful and favorable that your house almost sells itself. Though the temperate weather and lovely springtime blossoms makes selling a bit easier, there are many ways you can make the most of the season to show off your home to buyers. We’re letting you in on some tips for how to stage your home during spring.

When staging your home, it’s always a good idea to evoke the current season in a tasteful, unobtrusive way. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to bring spring inside is to place flowers around your home. It doesn’t matter if the flowers are fresh or fake, either type will give your home a pop of color and make it feel more inviting.

yellow flowers at dining room table

It’s hard to go wrong with florals for spring! Try tying your dining area together with a spring-patterned tablecloth or adding some inexpensive throw pillows to accent your sofa. Maybe floral patterns aren’t exactly for you. If that’s the case, you can place leafy details around the home to give rooms a lush look.

Let the sunshine in, literally! Take advantage of the longer days by allowing bright rays to shine through your windows. Be sure to clean both the inside and outside of your windows so they sparkle. Use light-colored curtains to maximize brightness by reflecting light, which will help make the room seem larger.

sunny white kitchen

Consider giving a room or two a fresh coat of paint, choosing a neutral, light-toned color. Not only will this refresh your existing walls, but it will make the rooms feel more spacious and provide a blank canvas so buyers can visualize themselves living in your house.

Whenever you’re letting prospective buyers look at your home, you’ll want to declutter unneeded items and do a deep “spring cleaning” of the whole house. Clearing junk from your house will benefit you once you’re ready to move and aid in depersonalizing your space. Make sure your house is as clean as possible as not to turn off potential buyers.

In the springtime, your yard will play a significant role in attracting buyers. Take time to increase curb appeal by cleaning up any debris from fall and winter, mowing the lawn, and trimming any overgrown shrubs or trees. Add a touch of spring by putting up a pretty wreath and placing a potted plant or two by the front door to welcome visitors. Your front door should make a positive first impression to buyers; give it a new coat of paint if it’s looking dingy. Make the exterior of your house brighter by power washing to get rid of grime that may have accumulated over the past few months.

lawn mower

Staging will help immensely when you’re trying to sell your house, and it’s easy to incorporate seasonal elements if you’re selling during spring. Light-toned colors, springtime accents, and a tidy lawn are the key elements to make your spring staging a success.

If you have any questions or want more information about the home selling process, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying process, click here to get started!

If you’re ready to sell or buy a home, you will need a competent real estate agent to guide you through the process. With so many agents out there, how do you know which one will be the best for you? Much like dating, you may have to try out different people to find an agent who “clicks” with you. Read on to learn how you can find a good match.

Most real estate agents will have an online presence in some way, whether they have a profile on their realty page or are active on social media. Read the ratings of several agents who pique your interest. If the reviews are generally positive, that’s a strong indication that they have the skillset of a strong salesperson. Searching for agents on real estate sites is a quick and easy way to pinpoint local representatives and to request more information on their services. Some reputable sites to begin your search include Realtor.com and Zillow.

Your friends and family members may be the best source for getting recommendations on which agent to choose. There is nothing more valuable than a word-of-mouth appraisal, and a real-life referral will give you more detail than any online review can. Other agents are also a rich source for referrals. If you’re interested in a niche market or are moving to an unfamiliar area, contact your previous agent and see what connections they have.

As a client, you have every right to interview potential agents to find out more about what they have to offer. It’s wise to interview at least three to build a pool of candidates. Being able to meet face-to-face will allow you to ask detailed questions about their experience and get a feel for their personality. Make sure you discuss how they usually communicate with clients; an agent that primarily emails might not work for you if you prefer to text. Additionally, feel free to ask for and follow up with their references. During the buying and selling process, you will be frequently interacting with your agent, so your compatibility with them should not be overlooked.

Another good way to meet real estate agents is to attend open houses. Going to open house events will allow you to assess how the agent interacts with potential buyers and how knowledgeable they are about the house they’re showing. You’ll be able to see them in action and decide whether you would want to work with that person. Many people find their next agent at an open house, so give it a try!

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed or lost when trying to find a real estate agent. There are several ways to weed out those who might not be a good fit for you, though you will need to do some research to discover whose personality and expertise will fit your needs. A reliable agent is indispensable regardless of whether you are buying or selling; you’ll be glad to have a consultant by your side.

If you have any questions or want more information about finding the right real estate agent, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying or selling process, click here to get started!