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How do I get my First Mortgage?

Deciding to purchase a home for the first time can be exciting - and scary. You've never done this before, so you probably have more questions than answers at this point. But don't worry. Here are some tips for first-time home buyers:

  • Get Pre-Qualified First. Meet with a Mortgage Specialist before you begin looking for a new home. This will give you an idea as to how much home you can realistically afford and the types of financing available.
  • Brush Up On Terms. A mortgage is much more than principle and interest. Ask about down payments required, application fees, information needed to apply for a mortgage, inspection fees, closing costs and other miscellaneous costs such as homeowners insurance.
  • Attend Free Seminars. We offer our First Time Home Buyers Seminar and Home Construction Loan Seminar several times a year. Each are presented by members of our Mortgage Services staff and provide valuable helpful information on the entire home buying and building processes. For more information, check our calendar of events or call us at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6026.
  • Learn About First-Time Home Buyer's Programs. There are government-guaranteed programs available that provide you with affordable financing with minimal out-of-pocket expense. First-time home buyers can benefit from our relationship with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA).

Now, it's time to house hunt.

  • If you are currently renting and looking to buy, and your lease isn't up yet, find out what it will cost you to break your lease. For more information, refer to our Buying vs Renting brochure.
  • When looking for your home, use the Internet. With just a few clicks, you can see hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours and sort through dozens of photographs.
  • Avoid viewing too many houses in a day (in person). It will be tough to remember specific details about certain houses.
  • Go back and take a second look at the houses you liked the best.
  • Bring a digital camera and take photos of the house along with the house number in order to separate what you've seen. Take notes on unusual features, colors and designs.
  • Pay attention to the home's surroundings. This includes the neighbors, other houses, stores, restaurants, traffic and other distinctions of the house's location.
  • Do your research to find out if any persons of interest live in the area such as registered sex offenders.

For more information, refer to our Mortgage Services section or call us at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6026.

The above document(s) is in Portable Document Format (PDF) which can be read by Adobe's Acrobat Reader. If you do not have Acrobat Reader, you can download it free from Adobe's download site.

What's the Bang for my buck? Renting or Buying?

When it comes to deciding whether to rent or buy, often times much more than the financial considerations go into this decision. If you are new to a city or town, renting for a while may make sense. This gives you the opportunity to get to know the area - traffic patterns, amenities - and discover where you ultimately want to settle down. If you are just starting out financially, renting may also make sense because you need to build up good credit. On the other hand, if you are familiar with the area and plan to stay awhile, purchasing a house can enhance your net worth - and overall financial stability.

Both renting and owning a home offer certain freedoms and limitations.

Realities of buying a home:

  • Pride and comfort in owning your own home
  • Property builds equity
  • Sense of community, stability and security
  • Free to change décor and landscaping
  • Sometimes have to pay neighborhood/development association fees
  • Mortgage payment stays the same over 30 years depending on your type of financing
  • Less mobility than renting, since you just can't pick up and move without selling your home
  • Responsible for property taxes
  • Responsible for all maintenance and repairs, such as fixing the roof, heating and cooling, servicing, painting, carpets and floors, and sidewalk repairs
  • Time-consuming household chores such as lawn care, cleaning the gutters, raking, snow removal
  • Not dependent on landlord to maintain property
  • Tax incentives

Realities of renting:

  • Little or no responsibility for maintenance
  • Easier to move depending upon your lease term
  • Start investing right away without having to save for a down payment
  • If your rent is low enough, this could be a better investment than house buying. You could invest monthly savings in long-term certificates or other savings vehicles
  • No tax benefits
  • No equity earned
  • No control over rent increases
  • Possibility of eviction if you don't pay your rent
  • Must follow rules and regulations as outlined in your lease

For more information, refer to our Buying vs Renting brochure.

The above document(s) is in Portable Document Format (PDF) which can be read by Adobe's Acrobat Reader. If you do not have Acrobat Reader, you can download it free from Adobe's download site.

How do I get a Student Loan?

Getting accepted to college can be one of the most joyous and celebrated times for a family and student alike. Parents are proud of their child's accomplishments and want them to make smart choices as they become young adults, and students want to maximize their years at school - knowing that college is the first important step on their chosen career path.

But paying for college can be quite stressful. Some students are awarded scholarships and grant money that help with the cost, but most students have to borrow at least a portion of the funds needed.

Three educational loan options exist for parents and students: Federal loans, PLUS loans and private loans. Each loan is structured differently - in their requirements, interest rates and payment structures. Some loans are borrowed by the student; others are secured by the parent. Some loans are subsidized; others are not. There are also loans for graduate studies only. Keep in mind that the entire process begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is required by the US Department of Education and it is used to determine your expected family contribution and determines your financial need. For more information, refer to

The Student Services section of this web site contains a lot of information that you may find helpful as you prepare to finance a college education.

For more information regarding our Student Loan options, call us at (800) 369-4980. If you would like to attend an upcoming Financial Aid Seminar, click the link to review our calendar of events.

What does the Fine Print mean?

Do you ever pay attention to that itty bitty print at the bottom of forms, applications, contracts, advertisements or brochures? You've heard the term "fine print" but do you really understand it and know what it means?

The "fine print" is most often used to provide thorough details about an offer, an agreement and so on and because the details are usually in smaller type, are commonly referred to as the fine print.

In the financial world, you'll see fine print used most often on loan and credit card applications. Fine print is also in the disclosures about savings terms and conditions of a particular account. When you get an auto loan, for example, there are a number of papers to sign and each can be quite lengthy in detail. Even though it takes a lot of time and you are anxious to get the keys to your new automobile, it is important to take the time to read ALL the details of your loan agreement. Furthermore, if you don't understand it, ask for clarification.

Not reading the fine print often leads to unnecessary confusion and misunderstandings. Before you sign anything or take advantage of an offer, make sure you understand what you're getting yourself into. The fine print spells out payment details, interest rate increases, penalties, restrictions and conditions.

Our loan representatives are always willing to help you understand the details of your loan agreement and our member service representatives can assist you with any deposit account questions.

To speak to someone about your particular situation, contact us at:
Loan Center - (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040
VISA Credit and Debit Cards - (800) 283-2328, ext. 6035
Customer Service - (800) 237-7288

What do Points on a Mortgage mean?

Anyone who has shopped for a mortgage has heard about "mortgage points," but what are they?

Mortgage points (sometimes called discount points) are a form of prepaid interest. One point equals one percent of the total loan amount. The borrower can offer to pay a lender "points" in exchange for a reduced interest rate. The benefit to the buyer is that they are obtaining a lower monthly payment. In certain instances, borrowers also must purchase points to qualify for a loan.

The downside of paying points is this: In the timeline of the loan, there is a specific point where the money spent to buy down the interest rate will be equal to the money saved by making reduced loan payments. If you sell your home prior to this break-even point, you will have a net financial loss.

For more information, call our Mortgage Specialists at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6026.

What are Closing Costs?

When you are in the process of purchasing a home, you'll hear the term "closing cost" - which is an all-encompassing term for fees associated with the real estate transaction from the seller to the buyer - known as the closing. Your closing costs will also include fees you've incurred though the mortgage approval and house-hunting process - such as having your credit report pulled, and getting home inspections and appraisals.

Typical closing costs include:

  • Application fee
  • Loan originator fee or points
  • Mortgage discount points
  • Appraisal fee
  • Credit report
  • Home inspection fee
  • Property transfer taxes
  • Property survey
  • Prepaid interest
  • Private mortgage insurance (PMI)
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Title insurance
  • Attorney fees
  • Recording fees
  • Pro-rated property taxes
  • Pro-rated homeowners association fees

When you are considering buying a home, it is important to keep closing costs in mind. This will give you an accurate projection of the total cost to purchase the home and how much money you need to close on your house. In some instances, you can choose a mortgage that rolls the closing costs into your mortgage, but this option will increase your monthly mortgage payment. Additionally, sometimes as incentive, sellers will give money toward "closing costs" or pay for it entirely. Weigh all closing costs and incentives carefully as you narrow your home search.

For more information, call our Mortgage Specialists at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6026.

How do I get Business Financing?

Whether you are just getting started in business or are looking to expand and grow, you may find yourself needing money to operate and grow your business. Sometimes financing is needed to get you through and other times you want financing to make purchases that will make your business more efficient.

Lending institutions cite risk factors as the main reason for turning down loan requests from businesses just starting out. However, with a little preparation, you can put yourself in a better position to make a case for your business lending need.

The primary requirements for getting a small business loan are personal credit history, business plan, experience, education, and feasibility of the business you are starting or expanding. By far, the most important element to "sell" your business as a low risk to a lending institution is the business plan.

Your business plan should clearly answer what the lender wants to know:

  • How much money do you need?
  • What are you going to do with the money?
  • When will you repay the loan?
  • What will you do if you don't receive financing?

Our Business Lending experts are available to help you with your business financing needs. Call us at (800) 283-2328, ext. 5168

Should I consolidate my debt into one Loan?

When you are trying to make headway on paying off the debt you are carrying, one option worth looking into is debt consolidation. The primary reason people choose to consolidate debt is to reduce their interest payment - so the money paid each month is actually going against the principle amount (amount you owe) and not towards the interest.

Keeping this in mind, the first step to considering whether or not you should consolidate your debt is to look at each debt you have individually. Debt can take many forms - mortgage, car loans, student loans, credit cards - so you should understand what you are currently being charged in interest.

If the debt you are considering consolidating is credit card debt, you may be able to find a cheaper rate from a different credit card company (like our VISA® Platinum Select card), or you can apply for a personal.

If you are a homeowner, you may want to consider a home equity line of credit. The interest on this loan may be tax deductible, as long as your loan doesn't exceed the value of your house.

To see if debt consolidation makes sense for you, check out our Debt Consolidation Calculator. Simply fill out your loan amounts, your credit card balances and other outstanding debt to get an estimate of your monthly consolidated payment.

Questions may be directed to our Loan Center at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040.

What's a Line of Credit?

A line of credit is a form of a loan where the financial institution extends a specified amount of unsecured credit to a borrower for a specific period of time. This is most often used with homeowners - as a Home Equity Line of Credit. The benefit to the borrower is that you are only paying interest on the amount borrowed - not the entire credit line.

For example, let's say you have a Home Equity Line of Credit for $20,000, but you have only tapped into $5,000 of that amount. This means you have another $15,000 available to you - if you ever need it - but that you are only paying interest on the $5,000 you've borrowed.

When you think about it, a line of credit is similar to a credit card, only you don't get a piece of plastic. The credit is unsecured, meaning, you haven't secured it with any equity (by comparison, like a car loan - your car loan is a secured loan and the car serves as collateral for the loan in the event you don't make your payments, your car would be repossessed by the lender) and you have a limit on your account.

A line of credit is great to have - even if you don't use it immediately. Down the road, when you are looking to remodel, consolidate bills or have an emergency repair to your home, you can tap into your line of credit to get it taken care of. We offer home equity line of credit and a personal line of credit.

For more information, call our Loan Center at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040.

If I apply for a Loan, how long will it take?

It only takes a few moments to apply for one of our consumer loans. Even better, you don't even have to come in to one of our branches when you use our EZ Loan Application online. All of our consumer loans have low rates and easy repayment plans which are perfect for anyone's budget.

The EZ Loan Application can be used to apply for any of the following types of loans:

To apply for one of our consumer loans, you'll need the following information:

  • The amount you would like to borrow
  • Your previous address, if you've lived at your current address for less than five years
  • Your previous employer, if you've been with your current employer for less than five years
  • The name, address and phone number of the relative or friend living nearest to you
  • If you are applying with a co-applicant you will need their:

    - Current and previous address, if less than five years
    - Current and previous employer, if less than five years
    - Nearest relative or friend's name, address and phone number

It doesn't take long to apply for your loan - and you'll have your answer within minutes in most cases. For more information, call our Loan Center at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040.

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