Home Builder – First Bank https://localfirstbank.com North and South Carolina Community Bank Fri, 19 Oct 2018 15:03:45 -0400 en-US hourly 1 The Top Home Remodeling Trends of 2017 https://localfirstbank.com/article/the-top-home-remodeling-trends-of-2017/ Tue, 21 Feb 2017 15:25:44 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=9439

Remodeling your home, or any home for that matter is a big investment. If you’re remodeling with the intention of selling soon, it’s critical to know where to allocate funds.

You’ll want to put your money in places where you get the highest ROI. Below you’ll discover not only where to remodel, but the hottest trends for 2017.

Attic Insulation

Attic insulation may not be the sexiest home remodeling trend on this list, but it does have the highest ROI. The average cost for attic insulation in 2017 is $1,343, but its resale value is $1,466. This makes the ROI 107.7%!

It may be shocking, but attic insulation will help keep your wallet warm when selling. If you’re looking to turn up your ROI, you can do it yourself, but read this beforehand.

Major Kitchen Remodel

This year may be the perfect time to remodel your kitchen. It doesn’t have the best ROI on our list (the national average in 2017 to complete this project is $62,158 with a resale value of $40,560 for 65.3% ROI), but it’s quickly moving up.

This means that if you can get it done soon, your ROI can significantly increase. Oh, and pay attention to the color of new appliances!

Entry Door Replacement

Probably one of the easiest on the list, simply replacing your entry door has the second highest ROI. The job costs about $1,413 with a resale value of $1,282, placing its ROI at 90.7%.

The catch: doors need to be steel. This is important because entry doors make first impressions. Wood or any other composite material won’t do.

Two-Story Addition

Need some more space and want to sell your home soon? This project may be just the ticket for you. Again, it’s not the highest on the list, but growth is key, along with asking the right questions.

The national average to complete a two-story addition is $176,108 with a resale value of $125,222 or a 71.1%. But this remodeling project has been on the upswing since 2015, so getting it done now may give you a higher return for when you’re ready to sell.

Manufactured Stone Veneer

While this trend is on a slight decline, it ranks as the third highest remodeling ROI. With a job cost of $7,851 and a resale value of $7,019, it’s an affordable project.

The ROI lies at 89.4%, but why the downturn? Manufactured stone veneer saw a slight price increase in materials, thus contributing to the decline, but if costs go back down, expect this to stay put or even climb higher in value.

Want to geek out some more over the ROI of remodeling ideas? Check out this handy site.

5 Hottest Building Materials in 2014 https://localfirstbank.com/article/5-hottest-building-materials-in-2014/ Tue, 28 Oct 2014 14:12:12 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=3148

As new home construction and design technology is developed and perfected, building materials and fixtures in homes likewise evolve.

We’ve searched the country for the latest and greatest products that you can incorporate into your renovation or new home build. Whether you want a material that’s more environmentally friendly, lowers your bills, or is just plain cool-looking, here’s what you should check out.

Hottest Light Bulbs: Cree LED Bulbs

Electric lighting takes up a huge portion of the average home energy budget, and LEDs are the wave of the future. The sooner you buy in, the sooner you’ll start saving on your energy bills.

The next time one of your bulbs burns out, consider a Cree LED Replacement Bulb. These bulbs are a more inexpensive choice than several other LEDs out there, and it’s one of the most energy-efficient bulbs you can buy.

With a 25,000 hour lifespan (that’s over 20 years, if you use it an average of 3 hours a day!) and a 10-year warranty, you won’t have to buy another light bulb again for a long time.

Hottest Paint: Benjamin Moore Natura

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are toxic gases with short- and long-term adverse health effects. Exposure can trigger asthma attacks, respiratory issues, and even kidney disease or cancer. Paints are one of the biggest emitters of VOCs, so if you’re painting a room, look for paint that’s VOC-free.

While you’ll find several no-VOC paints on the market, Benjamin Moore Natura Waterborne Interior Paint is one of the best performers out there. Benjamin Moore consistently ranks as one of the best interior paint companies, so you know you’re getting good quality.

Hottest Flooring: Ecodomo Leather Tiles

Nothing says class like leather, whether it’s on the floor or tiled on the wall. Ecodomo creates leather sheets and tiles from pulverized leather fibers extracted from all kinds of recycled sources, including car seats.

It’s easy to install, available in several sizes, textures, and finishes, and can be cleaned with a damp cloth or mop. Wall installations don’t require any additional maintenance.

Hottest Countertop: Quartz

Quartz is one of the hardest minerals on Earth, just a few levels below diamond on the Moh’s hardness scale. It’s also absolutely gorgeous.

Manufacturers are able to offer a wide variety of hues and patterns, and the latest factory-engineered countertops give granite, one of the most popular choices for countertops, a run for its money.

Unlike granite, quartz is nonporous, so you’ll never have to seal it. It’s also resistant to bacteria and easy to clean.

Hottest Material: Concrete

Concrete is versatile, durable, inexpensive, and has several different home applications—poured concrete foundations, outdoor planters, sinks, fireplaces, and floors.

It’s easy to clean, stays cool in the summer, can be painted to look warm and bright, and is easily molded, so you can make your own concrete accessories, like wall hooks and garden planters. It’s also becoming more popular as a countertop surface, and even as a kitchen backsplash.

Choosing Sides: The Best Siding Materials for a Home https://localfirstbank.com/article/choosing-sides-the-best-siding-materials-for-a-home/ Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:26:13 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=3123

New siding can give an old, tired-looking home a total facelift, and perhaps surprisingly, it can be a relatively inexpensive change.

For an average investment of about $10,000, you will increase your curb appeal, add durability, and can even lower your heating bills due to improved insulation.

Siding replacement consistently ranks as one of the best remodeling projects for retaining resale value; for example, you’ll recoup 87% of your cost at sale time if you replace your siding with trendy fiber cement.

There are 3 three things to consider when you’re deciding on a new material for your home’s exterior: durability, energy efficiency, and aesthetics. Here are the pros and cons of some of the most popular types of siding.


Vinyl can often be installed over existing materials, so it’s a good choice to update preexisting homes. It’s inexpensive and comes in a wide variety of colors and textures. It’s also popular among homeowners because it is scratch-resistant and durable, and is easy to clean and install.

Once you get it installed, it is low-maintenance, and doesn’t need repainting. Companies are now offering foam-backed vinyl, which provides better insulation. Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report finds that replacing your siding with foam-backed vinyl is one of the top 3 upscale remodeling projects, with approximately 78% of costs recouped at resale.


Wood siding looks beautiful, but you need to be prepared for regular maintenance. Whether you use a clear finish, semi-transparent stain, or paint, you’ll have to reapply at least every 5 years.

Prices vary widely depending on the grade of wood you use, and any existing siding will need to be removed before you can retrofit. Wood siding is versatile, and styles include clapboard, shingles, and board and batten.

Natural wood siding is not as common as it used to be because it’s a poor insulator and is prone to insect and weather damage. If you’re committed to the beauty of a wooden exterior, engineered wood is a durable alternative and is about half the cost of real wood siding.

Fiber Cement

Fiber cement is becoming much more popular, and it is the best project to boost your home value.

Made from a mix of sand, clay, cement, and cellulose (wood pulp), it can be molded to look like stucco, masonry, clapboard, shingles, or horizontal lap siding, and accommodates almost any style of home.

Fiber cement is very durable and won’t expand or contract with changes in temperature. Manufacturer warranties may last as long as 50 years, with 15-year warranties on the finish. It’s low maintenance and can be painted any color.

The downsides? Fiber cement is a relatively new material, and is complicated to install. It may be tough to find a contractor with the necessary experience and tools. You’ll also need to completely remove the old siding for a retrofit, which adds to the cost.


Stone siding is among the most durable and requires little maintenance. Unlike other types of siding, stone doesn’t degrade over time—it will look just as attractive after 30 years as it did the day it was installed.

Unfortunately, stone is difficult to install and is one of the most expensive siding materials. However, synthetic stone is easier to work with and could even be a project for advanced DIYers. It’s still more expensive than other options, so consider using it as an accent to cover a chimney or the lower part of a wall.


Brick is beautiful, and there’s no doubt it’s durable. Installation requires masonry, which can deteriorate at mortar joints, so it does need some upkeep.

Because it is usually a veneer rather than structural, brick needs to be tied back to the building structure to prevent movement due to weather conditions. It’s a good insulator and comes in several colors. Brick generally requires professional insulation, and the cost of labor and materials make it one of the more expensive choices for siding.


The kind of siding you select will depend on several factors, and your budget may determine your options. Just remember that updating the siding on your home is something you will probably only have to do once, so it can be worth the extra money to get what you like.

With proper maintenance, almost all types of siding will hold up in any weather condition. Consider how much time and effort you’re willing to put into upkeep, and talk to other homeowners in your area to see what their experiences have been. New siding can completely change the look of a home, so make sure it’s done right!

2014 Home Decorating & Remodeling Trends [INFOGRAPHIC] https://localfirstbank.com/article/2014-home-decorating-remodeling-trends-infographic/ Tue, 12 Aug 2014 19:02:40 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=2969

2014 has been a blockbuster year for home decorators and remodelers. Whether you work in the industry or are a do-it-yourselfer, you’ve been keeping an eye on the latest trends and most popular design features. From the brass comeback to going green, First Bank presents some up-and-coming ideas for updating your home.

And when you’re ready to tackle that passion project, call or stop by a First Bank branch to see how we can help.

2014 Home Decorating & Remodeling Trends [INFOGRAPHIC]


Scoping Out the Neighborhood https://localfirstbank.com/article/scoping-out-the-neighborhood/ Tue, 25 Feb 2014 16:11:35 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=2552

As readers of First Bank’s free e-book 16 Secrets Every Homebuyer Should Know have already discovered, it’s critical to research a potential neighborhood when buying a home.

Here are some key considerations to help you make an informed decision about the place you might call home.

Home Prices and Sales Data

Sites like Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia can give you data on other homes in your prospective neighborhood. Make sure you’re comparing the price per square foot rather than the overall price.

Are you buying the cheapest house in the neighborhood? That might mean there’s something wrong with it. Are you buying the priciest house on the block? You could be overpaying.

You’ll also want to see how quickly the homes in your neighborhood have sold in the past, or how long they’ve stayed on the market. If there are several other places on your block that have languished on the market for months, it might not bode well for the neighborhood or the future value of your potential home.

Local Schools

GreatSchools.org rates local schools “by comparing the school’s state standardized test results to those of other schools in the state.” Even if you don’t have kids, good local schools are indicative of a good neighborhood (and will also boost the resale value of your home).


A neighborhood’s Walk Score measures the restaurants, parks, shopping, and other resources available to you on foot. A neighborhood that’s highly walkable can mean a vibrant quality of life for you and your family.

Crime Rate

Check with your local police department to see if they map out recent crimes. If you’re considering a purchase near a criminal cluster, you might want to think again.

Foreclosure Data

Go to the local courthouse to find area foreclosure data. You may not want to invest in a neighborhood with a high number of foreclosures. Even if you pay your bills on time, foreclosures around you might bring down the value of your house.

On the other hand, you might be able to use this knowledge to get a better price when negotiating with the seller, and then be a part of that neighborhood’s revitalization.

Neighborhood Regulations

Find out whether your home will fall under regulations from a Homeowner’s Association, the city, or a historic district.

Before you buy, you’ll want to know whether your neighborhood restricts signs on your property, the color you can paint your house, whether you can do additional construction, and more.

On the Ground Experience

There’s no substitute for walking and driving around the neighborhood at different times of the day and night.

If you don’t like what you see, hear, or smell, you can at least be happy that you figured this out before you moved in.

You can also talk to your prospective neighbors to get their takes.

Every homebuyer has his or her own personal desires for a potential neighborhood. Some might be anxious to live in a neighborhood filled with kids – others might run the other way. Some might despise airplane noise, while others would welcome the proximity to the airport.

The most important thing is to collect as much information as you can before making the decision that’s right for you.

4 Reasons to Consider an Energy-Efficient Home https://localfirstbank.com/article/4-reasons-to-consider-an-energy-efficient-home/ Tue, 25 Feb 2014 16:10:53 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=2531

An energy-efficient home won’t just help save the planet—it will also save you money.

If you’re buying, building, or remodeling a home, here are 4 reasons to consider putting energy-efficient features high on your priority list.

Go Green, Save Green

According to Casey Shaw, owner of energy-efficient goods supplier Passive House Materials, you’ll see savings soon after you move into an energy-efficient house.  Shaw says that while the most efficient homes can cost 15% more than a comparable traditional house, the heat energy savings can be as high as 90%. That can turn a monthly gas bill from $500 to $50.

Even if you don’t care about saving money right now, you can bet that future buyers will be interested in your home’s lower operating costs when it’s time to sell.

Energy Efficiency is Comfortable

Shaw says that energy efficiency isn’t about making a compromise on comfort. It’s about using a combination of architectural design, building techniques, and high-performing materials to make your home feel like it’s a beautiful day in the spring or fall—every day of the year.

Energy Efficiency Looks Good on Every Home

You don’t have to move into a geodesic dome or cover your entire lawn with solar panels to be efficient. Energy-efficient homes can fit with any neighborhood and match any construction style, from mid-century modern to Craftsman bungalow.

You’ve Got Options

If you’re looking for an energy-efficient home, there are several certifications that can help you quickly identify promising properties.

  • ENERGY STAR is an EPA label. According to the agency, “certified homes use 15-30% less energy than typical new homes while delivering better comfort, quality, and durability.”
  • LEED-certified homes are “designed to save costly resources—energy and water,” according to the U.S. Green Building Council, which operates the rating system. “On average,” the council says, “LEED-certified homes use 20 to 30% less—with some homes reporting up to 60% less energy use – than a home built to code.”
  • Passive House is an up-and-coming designation that represents incredible efficiency. According to Passive House Institute US, it “represents today’s highest energy standard with the promise of slashing the heating energy consumption of buildings by an amazing 90%.”

You (or your inspector) can also look for specific elements that drive energy efficiency, such as:

  • Air-tight construction
  • Good insulation
  • Heat recovery ventilation
  • Optimized internal heat gains
  • Minimal “thermal bridges” that cause unwanted heat loss
5 Reasons to Consider a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) https://localfirstbank.com/article/home-equity-line-of-credit/ Fri, 08 Nov 2013 18:45:43 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=686

Your home is your most valuable asset and investment. One of the benefits of ownership is the ability to take a loan out against the equity your home has accrued. This is called a home equity line of credit.

Your home’s equity can be determined by finding the difference between the fair market value of the property and the outstanding balance of all liens on it (typically your mortgage).

Equity increases as property values go up and you pay down your mortgage balance. A home equity line of credit then can provide many benefits for those with good credit and a chunk of their mortgage paid off.

Consider the Following

  1. You can use it for big purchases. A home equity line of credit, which uses your home as collateral, frees up a large sum of money when it’s most needed and fills in any gaps in savings that you might have. It’s best for big projects such as major home improvements, college education costs, debt consolidation, and even a dream vacation.
  2. You can borrow any sum up to your credit limit. Don’t feel comfortable with the total amount for which you’ve been approved? No worries; you can often just borrow up to what you need.
  3. You’re protected from exorbitant interest rates. You may even be able to deduct the interest from your income taxes.
  4. Your repayment is at your own speed, provided you meet the minimum. Unlike a mortgage, which can stretch on for 15 to 30 years, the home equity line of credit usually has a payment span of roughly 15 years. Lenders may allow you to pay more than the minimum to pay down the principal each month to minimize the impact of the interest.
  5. Once you pay down your line, you may have it available for further use when you need it. Need to replace your roof after a particularly tough hurricane season? Have unexpected medical costs? If your home equity line allows for renewal after repayment, you can utilize the line a second time to cover unexpected costs or future projects.
Your Mortgage Has Been Approved. Now Keep it That Way. https://localfirstbank.com/article/your-mortgage-has-been-approved-now-keep-it-that-way/ Fri, 01 Nov 2013 14:43:04 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=544

Congratulations! Your mortgage has been approved. You’ve picked out your home and the seller has accepted your offer. Everything’s all set, right?

Not so fast.

Even though you’ve been approved, you still need to keep your financial situation in order. It is not uncommon for lenders to pull a borrower’s credit rating and history a final time before closing on a home.

Stay focused on all of the factors that were important for pre-approval. Here are a few critical pieces of advice to avoid any issues at closing.

Avoid Major Purchases

Now that you’re ready to close on your home, you may be looking ahead at the next big item. Perhaps you want some expensive furniture for your home, or a new car.

Purchases like these can change the equation for the lender and make you seem like more of a risk. Wait to buy these items until at least 2 weeks after you close on the house.

Don’t Miss Payments

You’ve likely spent a lot of time making sure that your credit rating is good and that you haven’t missed any payments leading up to your pre-approval.

If the lender chooses to pull your credit again before the paperwork is signed and finds that you have missed or late payments, they could change their minds and deny your loan.

Stay Away From New Credit

Opening up new credit cards or accounts will raise your available credit. To a lender, this is potential debt that you could owe to someone else, increasing the likelihood that you will miss a payment to them.

Even if you find a great deal on a new credit card, wait until you have the keys before you open an account.

Stop Moving Money Around

Large cash transactions—including deposits, withdrawals, or transfers — raise red flags for lenders.

It may appear that you have other debts that they didn’t see when they pulled your credit. These big transactions make you look like a risky borrower.

Try to organize your finances so that you don’t need to perform these types of cash transactions until everything has been approved.

Hold Off on the Career Change

Starting a new job while you’re getting ready to buy a home can be stressful, but that’s not the only reason you should avoid a career change during this time period.

Job security and salary are two important factors when determining whether or not a mortgage will be approved. If you don’t have a stable job, the lender may worry that your overall financial situation isn’t stable either.

Again, it might be worth weathering the work storm a bit longer, until after the paperwork is signed, to get your dream home.

If you’d like to learn more about mortgages and the home-buying process, feel free to reach out to a mortgage specialist at a First Bank branch near you.

The Impact of Home Ownership on Your Credit Rating https://localfirstbank.com/article/the-impact-of-home-ownership-on-your-credit-rating/ Fri, 01 Nov 2013 14:33:00 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=541

If you’re in the market for a home, you’ve probably spent some time cleaning up your credit. After all of that hard work, you may wonder what impact a mortgage will have on your credit rating.

In most cases, a mortgage WILL impact your credit. Below, we outline what that impact will look like, and how you can successfully secure your new home loan and keep your score in the safe zone.

How Shopping for a Mortgage Affects Your Credit

Your credit rating is one of the largest factors used to determine whether or not you get a mortgage and what your interest rate will be.

Lenders will need to pull your credit report in order to get all of the necessary information—this is known as a credit inquiry. Typically, a credit inquiry will knock your credit score down by a few points.

But, if you keep all credit inquiries within the same 30-day window as you’re shopping for a home, all pulls will count as a single inquiry, lessening the overall impact on your rating.

Otherwise, spreading your mortgage rate out over the course of a few months can add up and may hurt your credit significantly.

How Getting a Mortgage Affects Your Credit

Total debt is a significant contributor to your credit rating. By taking on a mortgage, you will be adding a large debt to your credit.

Mortgages are considered installment debt (other examples include student loans and vehicle loans). Generally, installment debt is looked upon more favorably than revolving debt, such as credit cards.

In the short term, your credit score will likely drop. But in most cases, with regular payments, your credit will be back to normal within 3 to 6 months after getting your mortgage.

How Paying Your Mortgage Affects Your Credit

Roughly 30 to 35% of a credit score is based on payment history. Even with a large debt like a mortgage, making your payments proves to lenders that you can afford your home.

If you always make your payments on time, you will start to see your credit rating begin to climb. Set up automatic bank drafts to guarantee you’re never late paying your mortgage.

In addition to the impact of a good payment history, paying your mortgage will decrease your overall loan amount over time, which will also help to improve your credit rating.

The Takeaway

Although a mortgage will lower your score slightly in the beginning, home ownership can be a great step toward a financially secure future. If you know how much home you can afford and avoid late payments, your credit will become stronger than ever.

Budgeting For a Home https://localfirstbank.com/article/budgeting-for-a-home/ Fri, 01 Nov 2013 14:25:24 +0000 https://localfirstbank.com/?post_type=article&p=539

For most people, buying a house is not a spontaneous decision. It takes time to prepare your finances for a mortgage, to clean up your credit to get the best rates, and to save up for a down payment.

How Much House Can I Afford?

The most important factor when deciding to purchase a home is the monthly payment. Take a look at your finances and determine how much you can comfortably pay each month toward your mortgage.

The key word here is “comfortably”.

If purchasing a home will force you into a position where you’re struggling to pay your bills, you may need to think about a less expensive home or cutting back in other areas, like eating out or taking vacations, until you’re able to afford and save for what you want.

When calculating your monthly payment, don’t forget to include expenses like homeowners insurance, taxes, homeowners association fees, and private mortgage insurance (PMI) if applicable. In addition to a down payment (see below for more on this), you should also have the money for inspections, closing costs, and moving.

Once you have determined how much you can afford, talk to your lender [LINK]. They should be able to tell you the price range of houses in your budget.

Typically, lenders would like to see that your mortgage payment (including principal, interest, taxes, and mortgage insurance) is less than 28% of your monthly gross income. This is known as your housing expense ratio.

Getting a Good Interest Rate on Your Mortgage

Now that you know how much you can afford to pay each month, you want to qualify for a low interest rate on your mortgage.

The biggest factor in determining your interest rate is your credit score.

A high credit score will help you get a lower interest rate, while a poor credit score will likely lead to higher interest rates or even disqualify you for a loan.

If you’re not sure what your credit looks like, request your free annual credit report. Make sure the report is accurate. If it isn’t, call the companies reporting the mistakes and ensure that they fix the errors. It is important to do this early on, as it can take months for changes to be reported and reflected in your credit report.

Of course, you will also want to make sure that you don’t miss payments or make late payments while you’re preparing to apply for a mortgage.

A large factor in your credit score is the amount of outstanding debt that you have verses the amount of credit you have available. Revolving credit lines that are close to the maximum amount of credit available will cause your credit score to drop.

If you’re interested in calculating your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, try this calculator [LINK].

To qualify for most mortgages, your total DTI should be less than 40% of your monthly gross income.

Start by paying down balances with the highest interest rates, and do this before you start saving for your down payment. The less debt you have when you apply for a mortgage, the better.

Saving For a Down Payment

Once you’ve paid down your debt and cleaned up your credit score, it’s time to start saving for your down payment. The more you put down on your home, the less you will have to borrow for your mortgage. Your monthly payment will be lower, and you will pay less interest over the life of the loan.

Conventional loans typically require a 5% down payment, while FHA loans require a down payment of 3.5%. If you’re looking to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), your down payment will need to be at least 20%.

While putting 20% down may seem like a lot, it may be worth it. If you’re required to pay private mortgage insurance, the fee will be added to your monthly mortgage payment.

Start saving for a down payment as soon as you can. One easy way that you can start saving is to set up an automatic bank draft from your employer:

  • First, open a savings account for your down payment.
  • Next, determine the difference between your current rent payment and your expected mortgage payment.
  • Then, set up your bank draft so that this amount is automatically deposited into the savings account every month.

This will help you to both save and prepare you for your mortgage payment.

If you’d like to learn more about the home buying process, or if you have any questions, feel free to come in and talk to a mortgage specialist at a branch near you.