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7 Steps to Finding Your Dream Custom Homebuilder

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A man and woman look at blueprints with a homebuilder in a house under construction.

Many homebuyers in today’s market are turning to new construction as a solution to low inventory but also for the perks of building a home customized to them.

Data shows that new home purchases continue to outpace last year’s numbers, with July 2023 applications up 35.5% from 2022, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Builder Application Survey.

If you’re ready to begin the search for your dream homebuilder, we’ve got seven tips to help you get started.

Step 1: Consider Your New Home Priorities

We recommend first thinking about what’s important to you regarding your new home as it will affect your homebuilder decision. You’ll want to know what your must-haves are so that you can find a builder whose portfolio and style match your needs.

Determine Your Ideal:

  • Location
  • School District
  • Lot Size (Especially if Your Family is Outdoors Often)
  • Backyard Size (Especially if You Have Pets)
  • Price Range
  • Home Style

From there, you can find a builder that meets your requirements at a good value.

As far as your price range, we can review your financial scenario and preapprove you so that you know how much home you can afford. Get preapproved in minutes here.

Step 2: Settle on a Location

Decide whether you want to live in a new home neighborhood or build on your own lot. Many custom homebuilders build exclusively in their own private neighborhood.

Step 3: Research the Top Builders in Your Area

Search for online reviews for local builders to see which are the top-rated in your area. You can find reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook as well as sites specific to rating homebuilders:

NewHomeSource: Read reviews from real homebuyers and view ratings based on quality, value, trustworthiness and responsiveness.

Avid Ratings: In their words, “Avid Ratings is an independent customer experience research firm with the largest and most comprehensive homebuyer experience database in North America.”

Eliant Experience Management: Eliant rates builders based on feedback from recent homebuyers on the builder’s purchase process and evaluations from homeowners regarding how the builder’s quality and service holds up over time.

Your real estate agent can also direct you to potential local builders. Oftentimes, Realtors® partner with specific homebuilders.

Step 4: View Builder Portfolios

Once you’ve done some research and compiled a list of potential builders based on your desired neighborhood, Realtor® recommendation or customer reviews, take a deeper look at each builder’s portfolio.

If you have a specific style of home in mind, compare that with previous homes they have designed. Typically, you can find a gallery of floor plans and front elevations on the builder’s website.

Step 5: Visit Showrooms and Jobsites of Potential Homebuilders

In addition to viewing their online portfolios, you can request to visit complete homes and current jobsites with potential builders.

When you’re there, make sure to take note of a few things:

  • The Team Building the Home
  • The Quality of Construction
  • The Finishes in the Homes
  • Jobsite Cleanliness and Safety
  • How Hands-on the Builder is With Their Team

Step 6: Interview the Builder

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure to interview the builder – after all, they will be working for you. Come prepared with a list of questions to ask and topics to discuss.

Some ideas include:

  • How Much You Can Customize the Home Plans They Offer
  • How Your Questions and Concerns Will Be Addressed During Construction
  • How Long Construction Should Take
  • How They Service Warranty Issues Once You Move in
  • If the Contract They Offer is a Fixed-Price Contract
  • Who’s Responsible for the Interest Payments During Construction
  • Who’s Responsible for Paying the Insurance During Construction

Step 7: Financing Your Dream Custom Home

Once you’ve narrowed down who you want your homebuilder to be, it’s time to evaluate your financing options! At Premier Mortgage Associates, we offer Construction-to-Permanent loans for single family primary residences.

How Our Construction-to-Permanent Loans Work

Construction-to-Permanent loans, also called Construction-to-Perm or CP loans, are used to build a home on a lot you own or one you wish to purchase. It’s just like any other loan that you’re used to, except it’s divided up into two phases. You have your construction phase, which is at the beginning, and when the home/project is 100% complete, then your permanent phase where you pay back the construction loan and replace it with permanent mortgage.

The Benefits of Our Construction-to-Perm Program

  • Available for Single Family Primary Residences
  • You Can Qualify to Receive Financing up to 100% Depending on Your Loan Program
  • If You Qualify, We Can Offer FNMA, VA, Jumbo, Investment or Second Home
  • The Construction of the Home Can Be Concrete or Stick (Wood) Builds
  • Depending on Construction Technique, We Can Also Allow for Modular Builds
  • Build on Your Land or Purchase a Package
  • Fixed Interest Rates During Construction Phase

What You Can Expect With Our Construction-to-Perm Program

Once you reach out, our dedicated Construction-to-Perm team will start your application and request documentation to qualify you for the loan. If you’ve chosen your builder, we will need to complete a background check on them BEFORE you sign a contract to ensure they have a low risk of causing any defaults.

If we do not have a current relationship with your selected builder, we will send them a relationship packet to complete. The rest of the process moves like a regular loan – once you close on the land and house with the construction phase loan terms, building will start. Once the construction is completed, the city has issued a Certificate of Occupancy and we have collected all completion documents from the builder, we will modify to the permanent loan.

Get Started Today With PMA

Take the first concrete step (see what we did there?) toward your new custom home – get preapproved in minutes so you know how much you can afford. We can’t wait to work with you to finance your dream custom home!

5 Things Homebuyers Should Know About School Districts

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A diverse group of children walking across a street to the entrance of a school with backpacks on.

When house hunting, there’s a variety of factors that can contribute to where you settle down: proximity to family, commute to work, neighborhood quality and more. An important factor that many buyers consider as well is the quality of local school districts.

Research shows 42% of buyers ages 31 to 40 cited quality of the school district as an influence on their neighborhood choice in 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

If you’re on the hunt for a home, here’s five things to keep in mind about school districts as it relates to your home purchase decision.

1. Even if You Don’t Have Children, Buying in a Reputable School Zone Can Be a Good Investment

It’s no secret buyers with children tend to be motivated to live where their family can receive high quality education, but there are still benefits to living in a top-rated school zone for buyers without children.

It’s been proven that neighborhoods located in reputable school districts see increases in property value. One 2013 Redfin study showed that on average homebuyers pay $50 more per square foot for homes in better school zones.

Families are willing to pay more for homes that have access to better-funded (and therefore better-performing) schools. A recent study concluded that a 1% increase in spending on teacher salaries increased home values by 2%.

However, the flip side is that you will incur more cost up front and encounter more competition for these desirable communities.

Overall, when you’re house hunting, investing in a home in a good school zone can benefit you in the long run when it’s time to resell.

2. Considerations of Living Close to a School

While the idea of living close enough for your child to bike or walk to school is desirable, keep in mind the upsides and downsides of living near a school.

Upsides: Convenient commutes to school for your children as well as overall safety. Properties within top-rated districts might be safer and have better maintenance.

Downsides: You can always count on traffic surrounding a school during pick-up and drop-off hours as well as a certain level of noise from bells and fire drills to kids just having fun at recess.

3. Heads up: Real Estate Agents Legally Can’t Share Certain Information About Schools With Buyers

We always recommend working with a real estate agent when you’re looking to buy a home as they can help you find a property that meets your needs, represent your interests during negotiations and give unbiased guidance. However, before asking your agent which local schools are better or even where their children attend school, you should know there are limits to what they can legally share with you.

Under the Fair Housing Act, real estate agents are prohibited from “steering” a buyer, which means they cannot influence a buyer’s choice because of their race, color, religion, gender, disability, familial status or national origin. The law protects buyers from discrimination that would limit their housing opportunities. Therefore, agents are not permitted to share their opinions about school districts and communities, no matter if they are positive or negative, because it can be interpreted as steering.

The NAR explains it this way: “Discussions about schools can raise questions about steering if there is a correlation between the quality of the schools and neighborhood racial composition – or if characterizations such as ‘a school with low test scores’ or ‘a community with declining schools’ become code words for racial or other differences in the community. Similarly, making unspoken distinctions by promoting a school in one district while keeping silent about the quality of another school can have the same effect.”

While your agent can’t be perfectly candid with you about school districts for your own protection, Realtors® are trained to provide you with access to objective information and direct you to third-party information that will help you draw your own conclusions about the quality of a school or district.

4. You Can Research School Ratings From a Variety of Online Resources

If you’re ready to do your own research, there are many sources online dedicated to giving you an accurate picture of the best schools and districts in your area so that you can make an informed decision.

Here’s a few places to start:

Niche: Search for the best public and private schools as well as school districts in your area for free and get access to reviews from parents and students. Niche has its own letter-grade ranking system based on academics, teachers, clubs and activities, diversity, college prep and sports. Easily access data and ratings, reviews, test scores and demographics for public, private and charter schools in your area. See how a school ranks according to the platform’s own 10-point ranking system.

SchoolDigger: Search within your state and city for school ranks based just on test scores.

Your State’s Department of Education: Visit your state’s Department of Education website and search school grades. This will give you a more raw, comprehensive look at the grades local schools were assigned by their district over the last several years. Find Florida’s school grade archives here.

5. There’s Still Options Outside of Top-Rated School Zones

If buying into the top-rated school districts aren’t in the budget for your family or your dream home happens to be in a low-performing district, there’s still options for you.

If you don’t have kids to think about, consider investing in renovation projects to add value to your home that will help you just as much down the road when reselling.

For buyers with school-aged children, there’s alternatives to the local public school your family might be zoned for through school choice. School choice allows for households to select the learning environment they deem best for their children. There are a few different types of school choice, including public options and private options. The public options include:

  • Magnet schools: Magnet schools are public schools that attract students from multiple districts to concentrate on one area of study to advance their academic interests and career goals. There are currently over 4,300 magnet schools nationwide, and California and Florida each offer over 500, according to Magnet Schools of America. The organization reports the most common magnet themes are STEM related, visual/performing arts and International Baccalaureate (IB). Most magnet schools employ a lottery for admission while 25% accept students based on academic criteria.
  • Charter schools: Charter schools are public, independently run schools that have no tuition. Some charter schools can have different focuses like technology or leadership. Most states allow for them, but enrollment is not guaranteed as they typically employ a lottery system for admission. As of 2021, 7% of all public school students were enrolled in public charter schools – a 3% jump from 2010, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • Open enrollment: Open enrollment, also known as inter/intra-district public school choice, gives families the option of sending their children to other public schools outside of the one they are zoned for by their zip code. Intra-district choice involves transferring to a public school within one’s district while inter-district choice offers transfers to schools outside of one’s district. As of last year, 27 states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico permit intra-district choice and 43 states allow for inter-district choice, according to the Education Commission of the States.
  • Other school choice options: Homeschooling, hybrid homeschooling, online learning, microschooling, town tuitoning and personalized learning and learning pods. Learn more about each of these here.

For private school choice, there are five types of financial assistance that allow for public funds to follow a child to a private school, according to EdChoice. These include:

  • Education Savings Accounts
  • School Vouchers
  • Tax-Credit Education Savings Accounts
  • Tax-Credit Scholarships
  • Individual Tax Credits and Deductions

Ultimately, you can decide what the best learning environment is for your children without having to pay big bucks for a home in a top-performing school zone, whether you choose private, public or other methods of schooling.

The Bottom Line on School Districts

Whether you intentionally choose to purchase a home based on its school zone’s performance or if districts don’t even factor into your homebuying decision, we can help you finance the home of your choice with mortgages tailored to fit your needs.

Our talented and knowledgeable Loan Officers can work with you to determine your best financing options, starting with preapproval so that you know how much you can afford when house hunting.

Get preapproved within minutes here to start your homebuying journey.

What is Florida’s Hometown Heroes Housing Program?

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If you’re a full-time employed Floridian looking to buy a home for the first time, did you know you could qualify to receive up to $35,000 to help with your down payment and closing costs? Thanks to the Hometown Heroes Housing Program, homeownership might be closer than you think.

So, What is it?

This program was created in June 2022 to help frontline workers afford homes in the community in which they work and serve. Down payment and closing cost assistance was given to over 6,700 veterans, active-duty military members, nurses, teachers and law enforcement officers, according to a news release from the office of Governor Ron DeSantis.

However, as of July 1, 2023, guidelines no longer require a frontline work position, allowing more Florida first-time homebuyers to benefit from the program.

Additionally, more funding was allocated for the program through the Live Local Act, and the maximum down payment and closing cost assistance has increased to help make first-time homeownership more affordable for Florida’s workforce.

Who is Considered a First-Time Homebuyer?

A first-time homebuyer doesn’t just refer to someone who has NEVER owned a home; anyone who has not owned and lived in their own home in the last three years can also be considered a first-time buyer.

What Are Program’s Benefits?

Those that qualify can receive 5% of the first mortgage loan amount up to $35,000 in the form of a zero-interest, non-amortizing 30-year deferred second mortgage.

The program also offers lower-than-market interest rates on FHA, VA, RD, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac first mortgages as well as reduced upfront fees, no origination points and no discount points. There’s also no cost to apply, so beware of anyone who tells you otherwise.

This non-forgivable second mortgage is only due in full when the home is sold or refinanced, the deed is transferred, the first mortgage is paid or it is no longer the owner’s primary residence.

Those who have served and continue to serve their country can also receive a lower first mortgage interest rate and additional special benefits.

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

  • Must Be Employed Full-Time by a Florida-Based Employer
  • Must Work With a Participating Loan Officer (Like Us!)
  • Must Have a 640 Minimum FICO Score
  • First-Time Homebuyers Only (Considered Anyone Who Has Not Owned a Home in Three or More Years)
  • Must Earn Less Than 150% of the Area Median Income According to Local County Data
  • Must Purchase a Home in the Community in Which You’re Employed
  • Must Complete a Homebuyer Education Course

What are the Income and Loan Limits?

Both vary based on the county, family size and type of loan, but income limits range from $103,500 to $162,750 and loan limits range from $472,030 to $874,000 as of May 23, 2023. For the most up-to-date limits, click here.

How Do I Know if I’m Eligible?

Our knowledgeable team can help determine if you might be eligible and assist you in applying! Contact one of our Loan Officers today to get started.

Should I Put Off Buying a Home Until Rates Drop?

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It’s no secret that interest rates have been floating in the six to seven percent range, and you might be seeing a lot of scary-sounding headlines about the market.

At the same time, your family might be outgrowing your current two-bedroom home, or you might be a long-time renter tired of sharing walls with noisy neighbors. The kids might have flown the nest and you don’t want to have to clean all that extra square footage you don’t need anymore.

Buying a home seems like the next right step in those scenarios, but you might be wondering, is now really a good time to buy?

Ultimately, it’s up to YOU to decide when the best time for YOU to buy is.

When you’re ready to pursue homeownership or move, higher interest rates don’t have to deter you. You have options, one of which is our Buydown Program.

What’s a Buydown?

Our Buydown Program for Conventional and FHA Fixed-Rate Mortgages allows for a temporary initial reduction to your rate for a certain amount of time at the beginning of the loan term. We offer 3/2/1, 2/1 or 1/1 buydowns to help you buy despite higher rates.

For example, let’s say your loan is locked at 6% and you qualify at the start rate of 6%. With a 3/2/1 buydown, the rate would be 3% for the first year, 4% for the second and 5% for the third. With a 2/1 buydown, the rate would be reduced for the first two years at 4% for the first year and 5% for the second year. A 1/1 allows for a reduced rate for the first year only.

Bottom line: You can still confidently make a home purchase and secure lower interest rates up front. Plus, when your buydown is up, you can choose to refinance if rates have lowered. Sounds like a win-win, right?

You don’t have to rely on fluctuating rates or experts telling you when the best time to buy is. You can go at your own pace and choose to buy when the time is right for you and your family.

Whether that time is now or next year, our knowledgeable loan officers will be here to walk you through every step. We’ll examine your unique financial situation and find the best financing available for you.

Ready to take the next step? Scroll down to get preapproved today.

7 Simple Tips to Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden

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Interested in growing your own vegetable garden but not sure where to start? Whether you’re a novice or have some experience with gardening, it’s not difficult to learn the basics of how to create one. What’s most beneficial about planting your own fruits and vegetables is that you can feel good about using them in the foods you serve your family every day. Most would agree that gardening is also a fulfilling hobby that will give you many hours of enjoyment. There is nothing quite like growing your own vegetables with all the aromatic flavors and vibrant colors, not to mention all the health benefits you’ll receive. Serving your family garden-to-table organic food is one of the keys to living a healthy lifestyle. In April we celebrate Lawn and Garden Month and National Gardening Day on April 14th #nationalgardeningday. So, if you’ve never planted a vegetable garden and can’t wait to get your hands in the spoil, here are some great tips to get you started:

1. Find a Sunny Location

Vegetables thrive best when basking in lots of sunlight—most will grow well with at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun each day. Even though some leafy vegetables like lettuce may do fine in some shade, you’ll still want to give the entire garden as much sun as possible.

Smart Tip:Try a container garden if a backyard vegetable garden seems too ambitious. You can plant your vegetables and herbs in containers and place them directly on a terrace or patio where they will get the most sun.

2. Consider the Size of Your Garden

If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start small. Make sure your vegetable garden is large enough to ensure the proper growth of your plants. Consider how much space each vegetable needs to grow by following the spacing guide directions on the seed packets or plantings. You can also check out the “Old Farmer’s Almanac,” where you’ll find an excellent online garden planning tool.

Smart tip: Climbing produce like tomatoes, cucumbers and winter squash do well on vertical supports like an A-frame trellis.

3. Proximity to a Water Source

This tip is essential, especially during the first few weeks of planting. To help the seeds germinate properly, you’ll need to water them frequently to ensure they produce strong roots. Once your plants are established, you can water them less frequently, like every few days.

Smart Tip: Water sources set on timers can help you save money and ensure your vegetable garden receives the optimal drink at the right times during the day.

4. Soil that Works Best

To grow a successful vegetable garden, you must first start with great soil. You can buy a specially prepared potting mix for vegetable gardens at your local garden center or save money and make your own. Experts say a good gardening soil should be loose, not be too sandy or heavy like clay, and contain a combination of potting soil, compost, and organic matter that helps the roots of the plant retain water and remain aerated.

Smart Tip: Prepare your own compost with a mixture of vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and eggshells. It’s easy to do and eco-friendly, too..

5. Gardening Tools to Use

Working with the right gardening tools is necessary to ensure your vegetable garden thrives. You’ll need:

  • Gardening Gloves—available in fun colors, gardening gloves are necessary to protect your hands from the soil, sharp stems or vines. Make sure they are water-resistant and not too tight.
  • Trowel—an essential tool for every gardener, a trowel acts as an extension of your hand, making digging holes, mixing potting soil and planting your seeds much easier.
  • Garden Fork or Rake—you’ll need to keep these tools handy to loosen the soil and pull up any surrounding weeds.
  • Sharp Shooter—this tool is similar to a trowel, but creates more precise, deeper holes for your seeds and plantings.
  • Hand Pruners—this is tool is an essential item in every gardener’s toolbox. Pruners are used to trim each plant, so it remains healthy and does not overgrow. They are also used to cut thorny or dead branches away.
  • Spade or Hoe—these handy digging tools come in many sizes and help you prepare your plant beds. A wide flat hoe is recommended for digging a vegetable garden.
  • Watering Wand—a watering can cover a larger area, but this handy little tool allows you to pinpoint precisely the area you want to receive water.

Smart Tip: Use a wheelbarrow or garden cart to easily transport your soil, plants and gardening supplies.

6. Select the Right Veggies

Kids can be picky eaters when it comes to eating vegetables. But allowing them to select the ones they would like to see grown may encourage them to try new varieties. You should always plant the fruits, vegetables, and herbs you are most likely like to eat and use in your everyday cooking.

Smart tip: The best vegetables to start a vegetable garden with include carrots, beets, zucchini, peppers, peas, cherry tomatoes, spinach and lettuce. These are considered among the easiest to grow.

7. How to Get Rid of Small Pests and Bugs

Gardeners and farmers everywhere share the age-old problem of trying to keep pests from eating what they’ve grown. While there is no tried-and-true way to accomplish this, expert gardeners suggest trying things like spreading eggshells and coffee grounds beneath plants, or planting aromatic herbs like citronella, mint, and fennel, which have been known to keep insects away. Also, making an effort to control weeds will help keep the bugs at bay.

Smart Tip: A short mesh fence may help deter unwanted small animals like rabbits or squirrels from eating your fruits and vegetables.

Your Garden Oasis Awaits

Have you always dreamed of owning a home with a backyard where you could spend hours planting and tending to your garden? Do you long to see the vibrant colors and taste the freshness of the vegetables you’ve grown? Celebrating your home is what Premier Mortgage Associates is all about, and that’s why our experienced loan officers are always ready to help you finance the perfect home where you can build your garden oasis! We have a variety of different loan products that may fit your needs.

Your Essential Checklist for Moving in 2022

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There’s no denying that the experience of moving, especially moving day, can be overwhelming, triggering emotions like stress and anxiety in even the calmest and most organized person. Whether this is your first time or 10th, moving is just one of those life experiences you have to go through to get to the happy result—living in your beautiful new home with your cherished possessions surrounding you! No matter if you’re moving five miles away or 3,000 miles away—the moving process is one you can’t skip. You’ll need to be present to pack up your stuff into boxes, load it onto a vehicle and have it transported from your old residence to your new home. But the moving process doesn’t have to be difficult. You can create a seamless transition from point A to point B by following a few simple tips. Whether you’re moving on your own or hiring a mover, here’s how to make your moving journey as hassle-free and easy as possible.

1. Prepare. You’ll need to put your moving plan into action.

  • Call a mover. If you’ve decided to use a mover, it’s best to call around and get a few quotes. Although affordability is a factor, the lowest-priced mover may not necessarily be the best. There are other factors to consider: Are they licensed? Do they have five-star Google reviews? Do they use newer trucks? Do they include packing materials and insurance in the quote? One of the best ways to hire a mover is to ask your neighbors in the community and friends for recommendations.
  • Rent a POD. A POD, or portable storage container, is a perfect option if you are not in a rush and want to move your belongings at a leisurely pace. It is also more affordable than a traditional moving company. You can pack and load your stuff yourself, and then the POD company will move it for you locally or long distance. You can also store it at one of their facilities until you are ready to move into your new home.
  • Check into moving insurance. Most movers will offer some insurance in the quote they give you. You might opt for extra moving insurance if you have costly items that would be irreplaceable if they get damaged, like a piano, paintings, or other heirlooms.
  • Call the utility company. Cancel your present utilities at least 48 hours in advance and let them know your move date. Call for an appointment to install your utilities in the new home at least one month in advance. The services you’ll need to set up may include water, electricity, Internet, cable and a security system.
  • Change your address/forward your mail. You can fill out a change of address form at the post office and submit it up to three months before your move at The mail can be unpredictable, so it’s best to notify your homeowner’s insurance company, car insurance, life insurance, medical insurance, and credit cards online or by calling, as these are services you can’t afford to lapse. If you’re moving on your own or your mover does not provide packing supplies, you can start accumulating boxes from your office or ask neighbors if they have any to spare. You’ll need to visit your office supply shop to get packing tape, markers, bubble wrap, and other essential packing materials.
  • Donate to Goodwill. Now is a great time to start looking through your closets for the stuff you no longer need or wear to donate to Goodwill. You can donate clothes, kids’ toys, dishes, sheets, towels, electronics, and anything you don’t use anymore. The best part is that you’ll have a lot less packing to do and get a charitable donation tax break.

2. Pack. Packing is the most time-consuming part of the moving process, but with a little careful planning, you’ll sail through this step like a champ!

  • Bubble wrap your fragile and breakable items. If you’re not adept at wrapping and would prefer a professional to help, most movers offer this service, or you can find a service online that will help you wrap and box up most items in your home.
  • Leave clothes in drawers. Don’t waste time or energy packing clothes that you are just going to put back into the drawers anyway. If they are too heavy, take the drawers out, and bubble wrap them separately.
  • Color-code boxes. Designating colors for each room with a sticker or marker makes it easier to remember where everything goes when you get to your new home.
  • Photograph the backs of TVs and computers. This helpful hack ensures you’ll know exactly where your wires go instead of facing a confusing tangle of wires when the time comes to reinstall your electronics.                                                                

3. Move. Moving day is finally here! Even with the best-laid plans, things may not always go as expected. But you’ll be more than prepared with a few simple tips.

  • Pack a moving kit for the car. This kit should include essential items for the day like water, snacks, plates, cups and plastic utensils for later when you’re hungry and can’t find your box of utensils or plates. It happens!
  • Have a plan for your kids. If you have small children to care for, it’s best to leave them with a relative or family friend for the day so you can focus on the move. Allow tweens and teens to help by packing their own items and setting them up in their new rooms later.
  • Have a plan for pets. Your fur babies are precious members of your family; take steps to ensure they don’t get lost in the chaos of moving day. Open doors provide the perfect escape for your pet to go exploring around the neighborhood unaccompanied. Avoid losing your pet by arranging for a trusted person to care for them on moving day.
  • Take treasured smaller items with you. Even with the most experienced movers, accidents happen, and they can break things you can’t replace. If there is room, taking them with you can minimize any losses.
  • Finish all your packing the day before the move. Having last-minute things to pack and sort while movers are putting stuff into the truck can lead to confusion, and ultimately more stress. You’ll find things go smoother when everything is boxed up and ready to go on moving day. Now you can breathe easier!

Welcome to Your New Home!

We want you to have many wonderful years in your new home, making memories with the people that matter most to you. That’s why the mortgage team at Premier Mortgage Associates works hard to assist you in finding the best financing, whether it’s for a refinance or a new purchase. For more than 25 years, we’ve been helping clients find exceptional loan products to fit their lifestyles and budgets

5 Essential Tips for Moving With Your Pet

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You’ve just closed on the home of your dreams, and now moving day is finally here! And if that isn’t stressful enough, you need to get your pet safely from point A to point B without causing either of you too much anxiety. If you’re moving with your dog or cat, or both, then you may be wondering how to make the transition as smooth and hassle-free as possible. What obstacles will you encounter along the way, and how can you prepare for what lies ahead with a minimal amount of stress? After all, Fido and Kitty may feel uncertain and even frightened in a new environment, not knowing what to expect. And since most of us consider our pets family, finding safe and comfortable ways to move them, causing them as little upset as possible, is a high priority. So, if you want to learn how best to navigate your move with your furry companion, read on for 5 great tips to ensure you and your pet experience a smooth and safe transition to your new home!

1. Preparing Your Pet for the Move

You can never be too prepared when moving with your pet. Some can experience major anxiety and stress when moving, especially cats. Pet experts suggest taking your dog for a short walk around the new neighborhood a few times if possible, to acclimate them to their new environment. Once your pet is familiar with some of the new sights, sounds and smells it may encounter, you can face moving day with more confidence.

Flying on a plane with a dog or cat can often be challenging. Your airline will have specific rules for flying with pets. Call the airline ahead of time to see what precautions to take to ensure they’ll be as comfortable as possible.

2. Research a New Veterinarian in Your Area

If you are moving to a new area, you should begin researching a new veterinarian asap. Ask your present vet or new neighbors for recommendations. Make sure to note the address and phone number of the closest pet emergency hospital to be prepared if something unexpected happens during the move. You’ll also have one less thing to worry about if you ensure your pet’s vaccinations and prescriptions are up to date before you move.

3. Your Pet’s Moving Day Essentials Kit

Remember to set aside a labeled box for your pet’s belongings. Keep their favorite toys on hand to make them feel more comfortable in their carrier or crate. Also, it’s a good idea on a long trip to keep your pet’s food and bowls, treats, grooming supplies, leash, litter boxes and cleaning supplies handy. Keep your new vet and the Animal Poison Control Center hotline (888) 426-4435 accessible. It’s unlikely, but sometimes, a beloved pet may temporarily get lost in the confusion of moving. To prevent this from happening, ensure your pet gets chipped before you move, or if that’s not an option, ensure its collar tag is up to date with your correct phone number and new address.

4.Traveling the Day of Your Move

Whether your new home is 20 miles away or 1,000 miles away, traveling in a car with your pet isn’t always fun. Vets say to resist the urge to take Fluffy out of the carrier or crate while the car is in motion. Remember that just like a human, an unrestrained pet can get seriously hurt in an accident. Experts agree that restraining your dog or cat in the back seat with a crate or pet-safe seat belt is the safest practice for everyone. Your pet will feel more secure, and you’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing it will arrive safely at your destination. Most cats are especially stressed in cars, so keeping them in their crate at all times is the smart choice. On a longer drive, to prevent bathroom accidents, make sure to stop every two hours to allow your pet to relieve itself, drink water and stretch its legs. While this is not difficult for dogs, for cats, experimentation with their litter box and its placement may require some patience.

5. Adjusting to a New Home

Adjusting to a new home takes time and patience for the whole family, especially your pets. Some may adapt quickly, while others may adjust in time. Dogs usually have an easier time than cats, who will ultimately need more time to explore their new environment on their own terms without any pressure. The main thing pet experts say is to maintain your pets’ consistency with meals and potty breaks. Always ensure that there is a designated place for water, food bowls and litter boxes. Try taking your dogs out for walks several times a day to tire them out when they seem stressed.

Moving with pets is never easy but following these essential tips may help make the transition to loving their new home much quicker and easier.

Pets Make a House a Home

At Premier Mortgage Associates, we know your furry companion means everything to you, providing endless hours of joy and making your house feel more like a home. Whether you’ve found a property with a big yard that offers more space for your pet to run around, or an area with walking trails and a dog park, our experienced team is ready to assist you in financing the home of your dreams. For more than 25 years, Premier Mortgage Associates has been helping clients find exceptional loan products to fit their budget and lifestyle. Our mortgage specialists are the best in the business and are passionate about helping their clients.

5 Tips to Keep Your Credit Score Healthy

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Has your dream of homeownership been dashed because your credit score doesn’t measure up? Well, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans just like you have less than stellar credit scores that can impact the ability to purchase a home, new car and get personal loans or more credit. If you’re saving to buy a home soon, then arming yourself with a good or excellent credit score is essential. Interest rates are still at record lows, and if you plan to take advantage of these competitive rates, your credit needs to be in top shape. Finance experts agree that checking in on your financial health, including your credit score, is one of the smartest moves you can make. Your FICO score is one of the most important indicators of your credit health. The scores range from 300 to 850, with scores between 800 and 850 rated as superior by lenders. Aim high and make it a routine to do something every month to improve and raise your score. Consolidate your debts into a credit card with a low balance transfer and try to pay off as much of your debt as you can. Check out these other practical suggestions to get smart about credit and give your score a boost:

Pay your credit card bills on time.

It seems like a no-brainer. But you’d be surprised how many people forget to pay their bills on time. When it comes to your credit health, late payments are a detriment. It’s important to keep track of when your bills are due, whether you pay them online or through the mail. Late fees can be exorbitant, some up to $40 a cycle and can negatively impact your credit score for up to seven years. Yes, seven years! When you pay your bills on time, it shows lenders you are responsible and can be trusted to pay back their loan on time.

Lower your utilization rate.

Your credit score is affected by your utilization rate. So, if you have a $2,000 limit on one card and your balance is $1,000, your utilization rate is 50%. Financial experts agree that your overall credit utilization should not exceed 30%. A good strategy to lower your utilization rate is to pay off your balances every month. If that’s not possible, you should try to pay more than the minimum payment. Even $10 extra more per month will help you get there faster.

Keep old credit cards to establish a long history.

Your credit card’s age can impact your score—positively. How long you hold on to your credit cards accounts for 10% of your credit score. You may be inclined to cut up your credit card after you’ve paid it off like a job well done—but not so fast! If possible, your older cards should be held on to because they help establish a beneficial credit history.

Pay down your cards to lower your DTI ratio.

It’s essential to pay the minimum balance on your credit cards and loans at the very least. The more you can throw at your balance every month, the better. That’s because lenders look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio when determining how much house you can afford. A DTI is determined by the amount of debt and how it relates to your income. In general, the lower your DTI ratio, the better the chance you’ll have of obtaining a mortgage at a rate you want. Lenders like to see a DTI ratio lower than 36%, with no more than 28% of your debt going to your mortgage payment each month.

Don’t open new lines of credit or take out new loans.

Your credit history is one of your credit score’s main components, and new credit inquiries, called “hard” inquiries, can harm your score and mortgage eligibility. Hard inquiries can stay on your credit report for years. So, if purchasing a home in the near future is your goal, then hold off on buying that new car, large appliance, or new computer for the time being because it could impact your credit score negatively.

The Bottom Line

There are many ways you can improve your credit score and build it up, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an easy fix. Take the time to do it right by consistently paying your bills on time, not spending more than you earn and putting as much money as possible towards the monthly balance. In time you’ll see that balance shrink and your credit score rise leading to better loan opportunities! The mortgage specialists at Premier Mortgage Associates have been helping people achieve the dream of homeownership for over 25 years. We know that qualifying for a mortgage can be frustrating at times, and you may not always know who to trust or turn to for advice. We’re a trusted lender with a reputation for customer satisfaction. We’ll help you make smart decisions by presenting you with your best options. And to ensure you don’t make any mistakes, we will be with you every step of the way.  To learn more about our loan products and programs, contact one of our mortgage specialists today!

NQM Funding, LLC (NMLS # 75597) dba - Premier Mortgage Associates; Villa Home Loans; Texas: Consumers wishing to file a complaint against a mortgage company or a licensed residential mortgage loan originator should complete and send a complaint form to the Texas department of savings and mortgage lending, 2601 North Lamar, Suite 201, Austin, Texas 78705. Complaint forms and instructions may be obtained from the department’s website at A toll-free consumer hotline is available at 1-877-276-5550. The department maintains a recovery fund to make payments of certain actual out-of-pocket damages sustained by borrowers caused by acts of licensed residential mortgage loan originators. A written application for reimbursement from the recovery fund must be filed with and investigated by the department prior to the payment of a claim. For more information about the recovery fund, please consult the department’s website at -