7 Must-Follow Tips for Starting a House Renovation

Before you start your next renovation project, take note of these tips homeowners wish they had known or done before they started remodeling.

You know you want to renovate your house but don’t know where to start, right? Well, you’re not alone. Many homeowners dive into planning a home renovation with no clue of what to expect. It’s only after they suffer through renovation mishaps that they regret not having a plan. Without preparation, the home renovation process can be full of disappointments because, unlike building a new house, you aren’t starting with a blank slate. There can be unforeseen expenses and issues that make the process complex. So before you go down the twists and turns of the renovation path, here are seven things you must know about where to start with renovating a house.

1. Invest in a Key Lockbox

painted brick exterior of midcentury-modern home with wood front doors

If you’re renovating your home before moving into it and live far away, consider investing in a key lockbox. You’ll need to hire a contractor if there are significant projects on your checklist that you can’t do yourself. Remember that contractors start early, so unless you want to drive in morning rush-hour traffic to let workers inside, plan to attach a lockbox or install smart door hardware that allows you to provide entry to guests with a code. It can save you countless hours, gallons of fuel, and painful, early morning wake-up calls.

2. Spend Time in the Space

Living room with bookshelves and large USA map

As obvious as it might seem, it is essential to hold off on some decisions like paint colors, carpet, and light fixtures until you spend time in the space you’re renovating. For example, the choices can be overwhelming if you want to replace dated carpet. Dense or loose fibers? Striated or no pattern? What exact shade of gray? The answers depend on the other aspects of the renovation, like choosing paint colors.

If you select paint palettes before the renovation starts, you still need to see them on walls. Your decisions about colors could change as you spend time in the house. Also, freshly painted walls and new carpet can reveal that existing light fixtures don’t illuminate the space as you thought they would.

If you spend a little more time before painting and recarpeting to consider how everything works together in the room you’re remodeling, you can save several back-to-the-drawing-board moments.

3. Be Realistic About Your Timeline

gray and white master bathroom with double vanity

Your renovation will take longer than expected, so be prepared when planning a home renovation and make accommodations to avoid frustration. For example, you might think that replacing a whirlpool tub and outdated double vanity in a bathroom will be quick. Removal of the old fixtures can take a few hours, but locating a new tub and vanity you love can take several weeks. It can be another two weeks before they’re delivered. An expectation of using your new hall bath within a week can turn into a six-week waiting period. Be realistic about the renovation process and timeline, and select your new updates before removing the existing materials.

4. Expect the Unexpected

Kitchen with wooden floors and dark blue cabinets

All homes hold secrets—in the walls, under the floors, and elsewhere. A renovation can bring those to light.

For example, your contractor tells you your floors are uneven due to a shifted center joist while measuring for your highly anticipated new hardwood floors. You’ll need to deal with the home inspector who missed it and get the floor joist repaired before the new material can go down. This is just one possibility of the unexpected and why you should be planning for extra time during your renovation and extra money into your renovation budget to allow for unanticipated mishaps along the way.

5. Interview Multiple Contractors

blue-gray bathroom with red flowers

It pays to interview multiple contractors and compare bids. Suppose you want your water heater removed from an upstairs closet and a new one installed in the garage. The first plumber you ask may say he plans to charge $6,000 and would reroute hot water lines, cutting into your living room tray ceiling. The second plumber may find it’s too much work for his schedule. Plumber three plans to finish the job in a day and charge $3,285 with no water line rerouting needed.

You risk paying too much and not getting what you want without interviewing multiple contractors. It pays to do your homework and talk to several experts before making a final decision.

remodeled modern gray, white, and wood kitchen

6. Renovate Your Kitchen First

Homeowners often want to know in what order they should renovate a house. It’s best to start with the kitchen because these remodels add significant value to your home. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s 2022 remodeling impact report, Realtors estimate that homeowners can recover 75% of the cost of a complete kitchen renovation if they sell their home. Plus, if you have an outdated kitchen, upgrading the worn-out space will let you better enjoy the space while you’re home.

Practically speaking, you’ll want to do the kitchen remodel first because that work will create the most dust and debris, which you won’t want to land on new paint or finish jobs. It’s always a good idea to isolate any demolition mess by putting plastic over doorways or pass-throughs. Since an extensive kitchen remodel typically takes several months, you’ll want to set up a temporary substitute kitchen in your house’s dining room, family room, or another adjacent area.

7. Be Specific About Design Ideas

soft palette living room table

You’ll want to narrow your design preferences before meeting with an interior designer. Get inspiration from browsing home decorating magazines, interior decorating websites, and design shows. Getting a handle on a design direction will help you avoid being talked into a designer’s personal ideas, which might differ from your vision for the renovation.

Also, keep your designer strictly on your budget. Don’t allow them to purchase expensive materials and charge you for them later. If you try to stay within a specific time frame, your costs will remain low, too.


Interested to learn more about Home Improvement? Visit BetterHomes&Garden website to learn more: https://www.bhg.com/

Source&Credits: https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/advice/planning/read-this-before-you-start-your-home-renovation-281474979547593/

The Best Way To Keep Track of Mortgage Rate Trends

If you’re thinking about buying a home, chances are you’ve got mortgage rates on your mind. You’ve heard about how they impact how much you can afford in your monthly mortgage payment, and you want to make sure you’re factoring that in as you plan your move.

The problem is, with all the headlines in the news about rates lately, it can be a bit overwhelming to sort through. Here’s a quick rundown of what you really need to know.

The Latest on Mortgage Rates

Rates have been volatile – that means they’re bouncing around a bit. And, you may be wondering, why? The answer is complicated because rates are affected by so many factors.

Things like what’s happening in the broader economy and the job market, the current inflation rate, decisions made by the Federal Reserve, and a whole lot more have an impact. Lately, all of those factors have come into play, and it’s caused the volatility we’ve seen. As Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“Ongoing inflation deceleration, a slowing economy and even geopolitical uncertainty can contribute to lower mortgage rates. On the other hand, data that signals upside risk to inflation may result in higher rates.”

Professionals Can Help Make Sense of it All

While you could drill down into each of those things to really understand how they impact mortgage rates, that would be a lot of work. And when you’re already busy planning a move, taking on that much reading and research may feel a little overwhelming. Instead of spending your time on that, lean on the pros.

They coach people through market conditions all the time. They’ll focus on giving you a quick summary of any broader trends up or down, what experts say lies ahead, and how all of that impacts you.

Take this chart as an example. It gives you an idea of how mortgage rates impact your monthly payment when you buy a home. Imagine being able to make a payment between $2,500 and $2,600 work for your budget (principal and interest only). The green part in the chart shows payments in that range or lower based on varying mortgage rates (see chart below):

No Caption Received

As you can see, even a small shift in rates can impact the loan amount you can afford if you want to stay within that target budget.

It’s tools and visuals like these that take everything that’s happening and show what it actually means for you. And only a pro has the knowledge and expertise needed to guide you through them.

You don’t need to be an expert on real estate or mortgage rates, you just need to have someone who is, by your side.

Bottom Line

Have questions about what’s going on in the housing market? Connect with a real estate professional to take what’s happening right now and figure out what it really means for you.


SOURCE: https://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2024/04/23/the-best-way-to-keep-track-of-mortgage-rate-trends/?utm&utm_medium=email&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_tvlMGq9RcDcMzgWGw3E-HMMHlLSQ2Atcuu-je-8jIkZdcW0q_3Kp51GJrrCBJQ88GSn5qysy_zWBA1cxca6i7NuuICiUpXFR3sdCQbKd7VDMSoes&_hsmi=303933647&utm_content=303933647&utm_source=hs_email

10 Energy saving tips during spring

Here are just a few simple things you can do to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home as warmer temperatures arrive:

1. Service your air conditioner. Easy maintenance such as routinely replacing or cleaning air filters can lower your cooling system’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent. Also, the first day of spring could serve as a reminder to check your air conditioner’s evaporator coil, which should be cleaned annually to ensure the system is performing at optimal levels.

2. Open windows. Opening windows creates a cross-wise breeze, allowing you to naturally cool your home without switching on air conditioners. This is an ideal tactic in spring when temperatures are mild.

3. Use ceiling fans. Cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat four degrees. This can help lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort.

4. Cook outside. On warmer spring days, keep the heat out of your home by using an outdoor grill instead of indoor ovens.

5. Install window treatments. Energy efficient window treatments or coverings such as blinds, shades and films can slash heat gain when temperatures rise. These devices not only improve the look of your home but also reduce energy costs.

6. Caulk air leaks. Using low-cost caulk to seal cracks and openings in your home keeps warm air out — and cash in your wallet.

7.  Bring in sunlight. During daylight hours, switch off artificial lights and use windows and skylights to brighten your home.

8. Set the thermostat. On warm days, setting a programmable thermostat to a higher setting when you are not at home can help reduce your energy costs by approximately 10 percent.

9. Seal ducts. Air loss through ducts can lead to high electricity costs, accounting for nearly 30 percent of a cooling system’s energy consumption. Sealing and insulating ducts can go a long way toward lowering your electricity bills.

10.  Switch on bathroom fans. Bathroom fans suck out heat and humidity from your home, improving comfort.

Check out our home cooling and landscaping infographics for more ways to cut energy costs this spring. And visit Energy Saver for additional tips on improving your home’s energy efficiency.

SOURCE/CREDIT: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/10-energy-saving-tips-spring#:~:text=During%20daylight%20hours%2C%20switch%20off,costs%20by%20approximately%2010%20percent.

Your Guide to Spring Gardening

Spring is an uplifting time of year for many of us as we watch the natural world burst into life. Learn some handy gardening tips on creating blossom displays, pruning and mowing, and the types of flowers and vegetables to plant this season.


What to plant in spring

Once the soil is warm enough, you can start planting potatoes and onions and sowing hardy vegetables, including broad beans, cabbages, carrots, radishes, lettuce, rocket and spinach.

March and April are good months to plant perennials, sow hardy annuals such as marigolds, and plant summer-flowering bulbs, including lilies and gladioli. Prepare your beds in late May by removing weeds and digging and raking the soil to a fine tilth.

Want to create more plants for free? As daffodils and other spring bulbs die back, start dividing crowded clumps to spread them out for next year.

Things to do in the garden during spring

Weed and mulch

Rising temperatures accelerate growth in borders and vegetable beds, so it’s important to keep on top of weeds with regular hoeing.

You can also mulch your borders in early spring, provided the soil is moist, to help prevent weeds.

Prune hydrangeas

Prune hydrangeas in March. Look for a set of healthy strong buds and cut the old flower heads back to just above them.

For mature or congested plants, take out some of the older growth to encourage them to reshoot from the base.

Look out for wildlife

Take care not to disturb nesting birds and always check carefully before pruning hedges or shrubs.

When you tidy and cut back winter growth in spring, remember it may be home to insects and amphibians, or even a hibernating hedgehog.

Leave the lawn for pollinators

Join the growing trend of leaving all or parts of your lawn uncut for a few weeks at a time. This will allow clover, daisies and other lawn species to flower, providing nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects.

Volunteers re-potting geranium seedlings into plug trays in the nursery at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
Volunteers in the nursery at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire | © National Trust Images/Mike Hodgson

Container growing

If you have a small garden, patio or terrace, then container growing could be for you. Here are some useful tips to help you make the most of container growing.

Choosing plants for containers

Bulbs and annuals are great for growing in containers because you can replant each year to create new schemes. Herbs such as parsley, basil and thyme will also grow well in pots – place them near your kitchen door for easy access.

Many perennials and even small shrubs and trees will grow in containers, but species choice is important so make sure you do your research before you buy.

Compost and care

Use good-quality peat-free potting compost for temporary displays. For shrubs and perennials, which will stay in the same compost for a while, choose one with soil in it or add your own.

Plants in containers need regular watering, so ask a helpful neighbour to take care of them when you’re away.

Planting small trees for blossom

Even if you have a small garden, you can create an eye-catching blossom display. The key to success is choosing the right size trees or shrubs for the space you’ve got.

You can buy bare-root trees and shrubs between November and March or in containers all year round. It’s best to plant them in autumn or early spring.

Apple blossom in April, in the fruit orchard at Cotehele, Cornwall
Apple blossom in the fruit orchard at Cotehele, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Choosing the best blossom tree for your garden

Personal taste, colour and smell are obvious criteria for selecting a blossom tree, but remember to check the plant’s soil preferences and potential height once it’s fully matured. A container shrub will fit into the smallest of spaces, but remember this will need regular feeding and watering.

If you’ve got space for more than one tree, think about how they will complement each other – flowering in sequence or contrasting colours. You may want a tree with multi-season interest or one that produces fruit. Fruit tree blossom is great for pollinating insects.

SOURCE/CREDITS: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/discover/gardening-tips/gardening-tips-for-spring#rt-things-to-do-in-the-garden-during-spring

Fire Safety Tips for Your Home

Follow these fire safety tips for your home to keep your family safe, and learn how to stay safe in the event of a house fire.

In the event of a house fire, every second counts. A fire can become life-threatening within two minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a home can become completely engulfed in flames and filled with thick black smoke in five minutes.

“There are nearly 500,000 house fires every year in the United States,” says Mallory Micetich, home care expert at home services company Angi. “House fires are dangerous and destructive, but many of them can be prevented by following home safety recommendations and keeping up with home maintenance.”

Fires are devastating, but most house fires are preventable. Here are common causes of fires and fire safety tips for your home:

There are a number of ways a fire can start in the home. Some of the most common ways may be very familiar, but others may be a little more difficult to spot. Being aware and identifying potential risks can help lower the chances of a house fire.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, these are the most common causes of fires in the home:

  • Cooking accidents. According to the NFPA, cooking accidents account for nearly 50% of all house fires. Frequently, cooking fires are caused by grease that becomes overheated or when cooking food is left unsupervised. Make sure to thoroughly clean your cookware to prevent the buildup of grease and other debris and never leave the kitchen unattended while cooking with oil.“If you see a grease fire in your kitchen, do not use water or attempt to transfer the fiery pot or pan anywhere else,” Micetich says. “As soon as you see smoke, turn off the flame and cover the pan with a heavy metal lid. If the pan starts to produce flames, pour a generous amount of baking soda over it.”
  • Portable heaters and space heaters. Portable space heaters are particularly dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that space heaters cause 1,700 fires per year, resulting in about 80 deaths and 160 injuries.Before you use your space heater for the first time, Micetich advises users to read the instructions and follow them closely. Don’t use a space heater that may be too large for the room or area you want to put it in and make sure there are no combustible materials near the unit. “When possible, try to buy an electric space heater from a reputable brand with added safety features like auto-off and tip safety to prevent house fires,” Micetich adds.
  • Electrical faults. Most electrical fires are caused by short circuits or loose connections. Micetich says to bring in a pro once a year to inspect your electrical system and to not overburden your system by running multiple appliances at once.
  • Appliance malfunctions. The most common cause of house fires from an appliance is a dryer malfunction. Regularly empty the lint trap in your dryer and have an appliance repair expert routinely inspect your units, Micetich says.
  • Chimney issues. Chimney fires can quickly spread to other areas of the home. Micetich advises homeowners to never start a fire using gasoline or kerosene, and only fuel your fires with dry wood or dedicated chimney fire starters. “Bring in a chimney pro once a year to inspect and sweep your chimney to get rid of creosote buildup that causes fires,” Micetich adds. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimney sweeping and inspection cost between $150 and $450, which could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.
  • Smoking and candles. Keep open flames away from flammable materials and never leave them unattended.

The NFPA estimates that one home fire-related death occurs every 3 hours and 8 minutes, and the Insurance Information Institute reports the average home insurance house fire claim between 2016 and 2020 was more than $77,000.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your homes safe.

  • Install smoke detectors. Smoke detectors are your first step toward early home fire detection. Install a smoke detector on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test alarms every month and replace batteries once per year.
  • Install fire extinguishers. Install a fire extinguisher that’s easily visible and accessible on every level of your home. Regularly examine the extinguishers for signs of corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzles.
  • Have a fire escape plan. Sit down with your family members and create a fire escape plan. Have at least two unobstructed exits in every room, like a window or door. Make sure to practice your escape plan at least once per year.

Winter is the peak time for fire-related deaths and injuries, and the holidays come with their own set of fire risks. Christmas trees, decorations, cooking and candles are the leading causes of house fires during the holiday season.

“With more cooking and home heating compared to the rest of the year, it leads to increased risk,” Micetich says. “Christmas trees, whether real or artificial, can catch fire when they get too hot. Opt for LED bulbs to decrease the risk of your tree catching on fire. If you have a real tree, water it regularly to keep the needles from drying out.”

The safety of you and your family is your top priority during a house fire. Put your escape plan into action. If you can’t get out right away, cover vents and protect your lungs as much as possible to reduce smoke inhalation.

“Extinguish the fire, if possible, by using a fire extinguisher or smothering a grease fire with a metal lid,” Micetich says. “If you can’t extinguish the fire, shout ‘Fire!’, immediately vacate your home and call 911 once you’re safely out.”

Source: https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/fire-safety-tips-for-your-home#mostcommon

Visit: https://www.usnews.com/

Here are some useful video tips.

Tips for Bringing Home a New Pet

Introducing a New Furry Friend to Your Household

Before bringing a new pet into your home, it is important to make sure that it is the right decision for you and your family. Pets require significant care and preparation which is vital to ensuring an easy transition into your home. Note, it can take days, weeks, or even months for your pet to finally feel at home. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your new pet. Patience is key!

Here are some tips to help.

Supplies and Equipment

Important supplies and equipment include fundamental items such:

  1. Bed
  2. Water/Food bowls
  3. Food
  4. Collar/Leash
  5. Toys
  6. Other items to stimulate them

Remember that your pets’ emotional and mental wellbeing is just as important as their physical needs.

Veterinary Care

Most veterinarians are booking so far in advance, so we recommend scheduling an appointment as soon as you know you are getting your new pet to have a thorough health or wellness check. Ideally, this exam should be done within a week of their arrival. Your new veterinary team can advise on the correct vaccination protocol for your pet and ensure that there are no underlying illnesses or concerns.

Preparation for Your Other Pets

Make sure that any other pets in the home are up to date on their vaccinations. Whether you adopted your new pet from a shelter or purchased them from a breeder, re-homed pets can bring new diseases with them that could be transmitted to existing pets in the household.

Just as important, calmly introducing your new pet to your existing one(s) is critical in the transition process. A cautious approach is to do this gradually until they get used to one another.

Limit Visitors at First

Initially, it is important to spend as much time at home with your new pet to help them settle into their new home. It is crucial to give everyone living in your home time to get to know one another without outside pressures.

Try and keep new visitors to the house to a minimum until your pet has settled in. It is important that your pet gets to bond with you and your family first.

Preparation for Children and Other Family

Children are naturally curious, and will no doubt be extremely excited by the arrival of a new pet. It is important to explain to them that animals take time to adjust to new environments and may be scared, nervous or wary of them for a few days. Take the time to educate your children on how to treat your pet with the care and respect that they deserve.

Establish Rule and Standards

Establishing some basic house rules ahead of your pets’ arrival can help create a routine that your pet will quickly adopt on their own. Knowing what to expect will also help them settle faster.

  1. Make a plan: Before your new pet arrives, think about the rules and standards you want to set and explain those to all members of the home.
  2. Set boundaries: If you don’t want your new pet on furniture, set that boundary the moment they enter your home (example).
  3. Be consistent: Once you have implemented a rule, stick to it. Your pet will react better and more consistently in return.
  4. Get everyone involved: Assign family members specific tasks to help them bond with your pet and take ownership of their commitment as pet owners.

Potty Training

When it comes to training your pet, patience is most definitely a virtue. Tip: remain consistent and stick to a routine. If you have a dog, take them outside at the same time every day. A good place to start is first thing in the morning, the last thing at night, and after meals. Stay with them to boost their confidence but wait ‘in the wings’ until they are finished.

Most kittens are trained to use the litter box, but if you need to reinforce this training, place them in the litter tray after waking and after meals. Using a litter box does go against a cat’s natural instinct, so once they are settled, you may find that they prefer to do their business outdoors. With both dogs and cats, positive behavior reinforcement by way of praise, affection, and treats is often the quickest and easiest way to train them.

Exercise and Outdoor Time


  • Research breed and ask your veterinarian about the appropriate amount of exercise
  • Keep in mind, puppies are more vulnerable to diseases so ensure they are properly vaccinated
  • Use a leash when going on walks
  • Train them to return to you by gently pulling them towards you
  • Reward successful return and behavior
  • Offer tons of praise and affection
  • Before letting them roam freely in a yard or dog park, make certain they are spayed or neutered as a precaution

When you feel that your dog is ready to be let off the lead, begin in a secure, fenced-in location. Make sure you are confident they will return to you when called. Also, ensure they have proper identification, either in the form of a collar and tag or ideally, a microchip.


  • Ask your veterinarian about the appropriate amount of exercise
  • Consider your immediate environment before letting them outdoors
  • Keep in mind, kittens are more vulnerable to diseases so ensure they are properly vaccinated
  • Before letting them roam freely, make certain they are spayed or neutered as a precaution
  • Confirm they have adequate identification either in the form of a collar and tag or ideally, a microchip.

You can train your cat to respond to you by offering praise and goodies such as tuna chunks or commercial cat treats.

Adopting a Senior Pet?

If you are adopting an older pet, it is wise to try and find out as much history about the pet as possible. This will let you know what sort of temperament and behavior to expect. This will also help you make any adjustments necessary for the well-being of your new pet. For example, some pets that have gone hungry when living with previous owners can be guarded, possessive, or even aggressive at feeding times and need to be given space to eat.

Bringing home a new pet is exciting and a big responsibility! Make sure you and your family are prepared by following these tips. Remember to call to book an appointment with us once your new furry friend is settled.

Source: https://www.lakewoodpetdoctor.com/blog/tips-for-bringing-home-a-new-pet/

Home Ready: A Quickstart Guide to Ownership

Preparing for Homeownership

Buying a home is a huge milestone, and it’s important to prepare before you dive in headfirst. After all, this is likely the largest investment that you will ever make. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel in your home search and home financing journey. Here are some steps you can take to help you prepare for homeownership:

Understand Your Credit

Your credit can affect where you live, what types of loans you’re eligible for, how much money you can borrow, the interest rate you will pay and might even have an effect on aspects of your personal relationships. Checking your credit score will allow you to know what you’re working with, so you can start updating your credit, if necessary.

Save for a Down Payment

A down payment is the percentage of your home price that you will pay upfront. It represents the initial amount of equity, or ownership, that you will have in your home. It’s a common misconception that a 20% down payment is required to purchase a home. This is not always the case, especially as a first-time home buyer. So how much do you need to put down? The answer is different for everyone. Your down payment depends on your lender, your mortgage type and your financial situation.

Each loan program will have its own down payment requirements:

  • FHA – Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the FHA requires as little as 3.5% down.
  • VA – Backed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, these loans are for qualified active-duty, retired and reservist military members (and some surviving spouses) and typically do not require a down payment for homes that do not exceed the VA limit.
  • Conventional – We offer Conventional loans starting at just 3% down.
  • USDA – Backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these loans are for rural and suburban home buyers and also start at 0% down.

While these loan programs may not always require a 20% down payment, you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance if you put less than 20% down—unless you are using a VA Loan. The private mortgage insurance will protect the lender on their investment in case you are not able to make your monthly payments, and in some cases can be removed once you reach a certain amount of equity in your home.


Source: https://fitzgeraldfinancial.net/blog/mortgage/preparing-for-homeownership/

No matter your situation, we have a loan to fit your needs


Monica Atkins

NMLSR # 455845
Mortgage Loan Officer

Phone: 240-335-0178
Fax: 240-335-0188
Mobile: 571-215-6602

5010 Regency Pl, Suite 101
White Plains, MD 20695

Featured Loan Officer

Monica is one of the preferred mortgage lenders who meet my high standards of service and reliability, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free home-buying experience for my clients.

About Monica Atkins

The guidance of a trustworthy and experienced mortgage professional can simplify any home financing experience. FitzGerald Financial Group has a wealth of knowledge and resources to assist you in finding the best loan to meet your individual home buying needs. We pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service and establishing long lasting customer relationships.

As an experienced lender, Monica Atkins is available to guide you through the home financing process. Whether you are purchasing your first home, an investment home, refinancing or just need mortgage advice, Monica Atkins can help.

Visit her website: www.fitzgeraldfinancial.net/monicaatkins

Learn How to Lock in an Interest Rate Before Finding a Home

Lock in a low interest rate BEFORE finding your new home.

Looking for a new home takes time, which can be stressful if rising interest rates are a concern. With our new Lock & Shop program, you are able to lock in your interest rate today while still searching for your perfect home. And you may be able to take advantage of falling interest rates as well.


  • No property address is needed to apply for a loan or lock in your low interest rate
  • Lock your rate up to 90 days
  • 30 year fixed rates. Conventional, FHA, VA and USDA options
  • Conforming and high balance options available

Contact us today to find out more information!

Nick Mautino

Mortgage Loan Originator | NMLS# 146613

Office: 443-917-2788
Cell: 240-417-8181
Fax: 240-465-0506

10632 Little Patuxent Parkway Suite 333
Columbia, MD 21044

Claudette J. Davis


Office: 301-850-0255
Mobile: 240-305-2174
Send Me an Email
Licensed in Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia; Assisting Globally
Samson Properties
16701 Melford Boulevard, Bowie, MD 20715

FHLB Grant Funds

Exciting News!FHLB Grant can help you save on your home purchase with up to $12,500 for first-time homebuyers and up to $15,000 for community partners!

Expected to be released on February 5th, 2024, First Heritage Mortgage is proud to offer the Affordable Housing Program, which provides eligible low-to-moderate income families and individuals with a grant of $12,500 to $15,000 towards their home purchase.

FHLB Grants are available to first-time homebuyers and community partners.

The funds can be used for: reducing principal, assisting in down payments, closing costs, and rehabilitation costs.

Contact us today to explore how this affordable housing program can benefit you on your journey to homeownership!

Paul Lancaster

First Heritage Mortgage

NMLS # 187417

Senior Loan Officer

Mobile: 240-464-3296
Office: 240-380-2450
Contact Paul

3201 Jermantown Road, Suite 800
Fairfax, VA 22030

Claudette J. Davis


Office: 301-850-0255
Mobile: 240-305-2174
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Licensed in Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia; Assisting Globally
Samson Properties
16701 Melford Boulevard, Bowie, MD 20715

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Empower Your Homebuying: The Advantages of Pre-Approved Home Loan!

Secure your dream home with confidence – start your journey with a Pre-approval today!

Pre-approval is the best thing you can do right now to be in a stronger position to buy home when you're ready to make a move.

Gain the upper hand in your homebuying journey with a pre-approved home loan. Here are three key advantages that will not only boost your confidence but also make your path to homeownership smoother and more efficient.


Key Benefits:

  1. Confidence in Your Budget: A pre-approved home loan gives you a clear understanding of your purchasing power. Knowing your budget in advance allows you to confidently explore homes within your financial comfort zone.
  2. Negotiation Edge: Sellers often favor buyers with pre-approved loans as it assures them of your serious intent and financial capability. This can give you a competitive edge in negotiations, potentially leading to a smoother and more favorable deal.
  3. Faster Closing Process: With the initial financial groundwork already completed during pre-approval, the overall mortgage process tends to be more streamlined. This can result in a quicker closing process, allowing you to move into your new home sooner.


Interested in exploring the possibilities of a pre-approved home loan further? I am at your service to discuss the finer details and address any questions you may have. Let's schedule a conversation to ensure your homebuying journey is not only successful but also tailored to your unique needs. Reach out, and let's start the conversation today!

Let's talk!