Should I Bank Local in Virginia? What to Consider When Choosing a Financial Institution

Are you new to the Shenandoah Valley and having trouble deciding on where to bank? Unhappy with your current financial institution and looking to switch? Whether you’re looking for a financial institution for personal deposit accounts, mortgage financing, or business banking needs, it can be tough to decide whether to choose a large bank that you see across the country or a local bank with roots in your community, such as F&M Bank. In this article, we’ll help you understand what makes local financial institutions stand out, along with some perks of community banks that you may not be aware of.

What are the different types of financial institutions?

Finding a local, community-focused financial institution such as F&M Bank is ideal, as F&M offers robust digital banking capabilities as well as conveniently located physical branch locations.

Banks are a crucial part of the U.S. monetary system because they move U.S. currency and provide necessary liquidity to personal and business entities. There are two sets of bank regulators, Federal and State. At the federal level, The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), part of the Treasury, charters and supervises national banks. At the state level, banks that don’t work across state lines can be state-chartered. The FDIC oversees state-chartered banks that aren’t members of the Federal Reserve System.


F&M Bank can be traced to 1908, when it started its operation as a state-chartered bank; in 1983 F&M Bank was incorporated in Virginia and became a registered bank holding company. As a bank holding company it is a full-service financial institution, offering complete consumer, business, and financial services – including a full array of digital banking capabilities as well as physical branch locations for your banking needs (as opposed to institutions such as Internet-only banks and credit unions). You will even find that F&M Bank’s online services offer the same capabilities as national banks!

  • Internet banks: No physical branches, just a website and mobile banking app. Online banks may not have national charters themselves, instead partnering with a traditional bank to hold customer deposits.
  • Credit unions: Financial institutions that are owned by their members and have certain criteria for membership.


Differences between banks and credit unions

F&M Bank prioritizes benefitting the community they serve, which you will not typically find from a national bank or credit union.

Working with a local financial institution like F&M Bank will likely be your best option. When deciding on where to open a bank account, consider some of the key differences between banks and credit unions:


  • Credit unions typically have fewer branch locations and financial products/services than banks.
  • Local community banks like F&M Bank benefit their community through local partnerships, events, and volunteer opportunities.
  • F&M Bank offers the most convenience and resources through digital banking on your mobile or other personal devices, along with a variety of options for nearby, conveniently located physical branch locations.
  • Local banks like F&M Bank offer unrivaled expertise related to your community, understanding how to resolve your specific needs for personal and business banking and lending that credit unions or nationwide banks are unable to provide.

Benefits of banking local for your personal deposit accounts

When it comes to your checking and savings accounts, it’s nice to have branch locations conveniently located near your house or job. And not just any branch, but one staffed with friendly employees who live and work in the same community as you. For example, F&M Bank has developed a lot of local expertise over the years. We’ve been supporting personal banking needs in the Shenandoah Valley since 1908. Local banks like F&M also offer branch services like on-site safe deposit boxes and in-house notary services.


Of course, web-based banking tools mean you don’t have to visit a branch just to deposit a check or transfer money between accounts. Local banks have embraced technology in recent years and now offer the same tools as the bigger banks. Enjoy the convenience of banking where and how you want with online banking, mobile banking, person to person payments, and mobile wallet. F&M Bank’s rating in the App Store is 4.8 out of 5 stars – higher than you will find for other options both nationally and locally.

Benefits of banking local for your lending needs

For your lending needs, it is best to look for an institution that has expertise in your community that can offer flexible options to meet your financing needs.

Applying for a loan can be stressful, especially if it’s your first time. The friendly loan officers at your local bank can guide you through the process, turning it from stressful to smooth and pleasant. Whether a home, car, or personal loan, they’ll help you review your options to find the right loan with a payment plan you can afford.

Mortgage Lending

While there are national trends in real estate, it’s still a very local business. The housing market can vary widely from community to community, so working with a local mortgage lender gives you access to local expertise, as well as more flexible lending options. Learn more about the mortgage loans offered by F&M Bank.

Personal Loans

Whether you need an Auto Loan to finance the purchase of your next vehicle, or a general consumer loan to use for a variety of expenses, local decision-making helps you get the right loan. Enjoy swift and local application processing, and greater flexibility in approving loans, from your local bank. When you come to a local lender like F&M Bank, we aim to put you at ease with the loan application process. Learn more about our personal loans.

Benefits of staying local for Wealth Management

Choosing a financial advisor is all about trust. Will they put your best interests first? Do they have experience working with clients who share your background, such as small business owners, blended families, etc.? Whether you are in Harrisonburg or closer to Broadway and Edinburg, you can find local financial advisors who will offer a higher level of service and possess a wealth of local knowledge.


Staying local for Wealth Management means working with a financial advisor who understands your community and can recommend local investment opportunities such as those on our Local Market Dashboard.

Securities offered through INFINEX INVESTMENTS, INC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Farmers & Merchants Financial Services, Inc. is a subsidiary of Farmers & Merchants Bank. Infinex is not affiliated with either entity.

Bank local with F&M!

Now that you understand the benefits of banking locally, you probably want to find a local financial partner who understands your needs. At F&M Bank, you’ll find personalized attention with customizable solutions for your personal banking needs. In-house decision-making simplifies loan applications and local financial planners understand the community they serve. Get started now! Contact us or visit your nearest branch location in Harrisonburg, Augusta County, or Staunton in the Shenandoah Valley.

National Ag Day with F&M Bank

National Ag Day


National Ag Day is March 22, 2022!  Virginia’s agricultural production is one of the most diverse in the nation. Many Virginia commodities and products rank in the top 10 among all U.S. states.  Our local farmers, and other agriculture experts, represent a leading group of industry movers and shakers that support our economy and sustain life for our region, and beyond.



Virginia is home to over 43,000 farms that cover nearly 8 million acres across the Commonwealth.  98% of all farms in the United States are family-owned and operated.  These families sacrifice a lot to feed our communities and sustain life throughout our region.  F&M strives to thank farmers throughout the year and we encourage our community to take a moment next week to thank a local farmer as we celebrate our farming community!


Farming is the biggest private industry in Virginia


F&M has been supporting local farmers for over 100 years.  We’ve helped farmers navigate several economic cycles from recessions and droughts to boom periods with flourishing production.  These experiences and partnerships have helped us develop tailored products that include equipment financing, land expansion, cattle purchases, waste management funding, and lines of credit.


Learn More about our line of Ag products here, or contact one of our Agri-Business specialists at




How to Open a New Account Online


Open a browser and navigate to

If you are an F&M Bank customer with an online banking user ID and password, enter that information at the top right to login.

If you need to enroll in online and mobile banking, choose Enroll in Online Banking directly beneath the login portal.

Step 1 to enroll in online banking from a computer








Enter your User ID and password to login to online banking and open your new account.

Setup Online Banking step 2










Please note, for security purpose, two-factor authentication is required. A temporary passcode by text message, phone call, or by Authy app if previously installed.

Setup Online Banking step 4












Click once on the three dotted button at top right (…)

Choose Add an account and on the next screen, click on Open an Account.


Step 4 to open a new account











If you do not have an F&M Bank account, choose New Account to get started.

If you are an F&M Bank customer, choose Existing Customer to get started.

Apply Today New Account Instructions









Please note: After 15 minutes of inactivity, the process will time out for your security.


On the next screen, click on Personal.

Type of Account_Personal option








Here, you will choose your preferred banking location along with the account you would like to open: Checking, Savings, Money Market or CD. You are only a few steps away from your new account!

Getting Started Open an Account step 1












Be sure to click the + sign to choose your debit card option.


Getting started open an account step 2







On the next screens you will enter your personal information, contact details, joint account, and beneficiary status, and upload a photo of your Driver’s License or State Issued Photo ID. If you are a current F&M Bank customer, some of the information will auto-fill for your convenience.

Getting Started Open an Account step 3









Once you complete the steps listed above, you will be prompted to review disclosures, and electronically sign to approve your new account.

Getting Started Open an Account step 4








Within two business days, you will receive a confirmation email from F&M Bank. If no action is taken, you will receive a reminder email after ten days.

Congratulations on your new F&M Bank account! We value your business!



How to Make a Loan Payment Online

Open a browser and navigate to

If you are an F&M Bank customer with an online banking user ID and password, enter that information at the top right to login.

If you need to enroll in online and mobile banking, choose Enroll in Online Banking directly beneath the login portal.

Enter your User ID and password to login to online banking.








Please note, for security purpose, two-factor authentication is required. A temporary passcode will be delivered by text, phone call, or by Authy app if previously installed.

Setup Online Banking step 4












Click on the tile with your loan account information

Setup Online Banking step 3










Click on the tile Pay from another Bank

Setup Online Banking step 4










Enter your payment amount and click continue.

Setup Online Banking step 5












On this screen, click the down arrow beside Pay from Account to select from a payee that has been previously setup. Click Continue and confirm your payment on the next screen. You will receive a confirmation email that payment has been issued.


Setup Online Banking step 6













To setup a new payee, click the grey box for Add Payment Option shown above.

On this screen, confirm your personal information is correct and enter the information for your external payment options. Click add payment.


Setup Online Banking step 7













Now that your new payee has been added, you will be redirected to the previous screen.

Click the down arrow beside Pay from Account to select your payee, click continue and confirm your payment on the next screen. You will receive a confirmation email that payment has been issued.

Setup Online Banking step 6













Thank you for making your loan payment online with F&M Bank!

How to Make a Loan Payment with Online and Mobile Banking

Making your personal or auto loan payment is simple and easy with online and mobile banking from F&M Bank. If you have previously enrolled in online banking, please skip to Step 2. If you are not enrolled in online banking, please follow Step 1 to enroll.


Online Banking

Open a web browser and type and enter your:

    • Social Security number
    • Account number
    • Email address
    • Phone number


Mobile Banking

    • Open the camera app on your phone;
    • Open your phone camera app and place over QR code below;
    • Open the link that appears on your screen;
    • Download the F&M Mobile Banking App and click “Enroll”

QR Code for quick access to enroll in F&M Bank's online banking







QR code not working for you? No problem! Simply open the App Store for iPhone or Google Play for Android and search for “F&M Mobile – VA” (image shown below) to enroll.

 Image of F&M Bank logo






To make your loan payment, follow these simple steps!

STEP 2: Under “Select account type,” click on “Personal”

STEP 3: Enter your Loan Account Number

STEP 4: Enter your Social Security Number and Date of Birth

STEP 5: Click “Continue” and follow the simple instructions

Once you’ve enrolled, you’ll be able to schedule your payment by clicking on “Loan Information” and then selecting “Pay from another bank.”

Check out instructions for how to make your loan payment on the F&M Bank blog:

Set up payments within F&M Online and Mobile Banking.

If you are currently enrolled in F&M Online & Mobile Banking, you can pay your loan by clicking on “Loan” and select “Pay from Another Bank” to setup your external account.


Cash Flow, Debt, & Refinancing for Virginia Small Business Owners

Are you wondering if you should refinance a small business loan? Many businesses experienced the unexpected last year, and now it’s time to get back on track or strengthen your existing operation. Small business debt consolidation or refinancing could be an important part of your strategy this year. In this article, we’ll explain how to refinance business debt, cover the pros and cons, and show you how to get started. If you have any questions, call us at (540) 896-8941.


What is Debt Refinancing?

Get to know more about debt financing and its potential benefits for your small business's finances.

When you refinance debt, you take out a new loan (usually with better terms and/or interest rate) and use it to pay off the old loan. The main benefits of refinancing include saving money on interest, reducing your monthly payment amount, and/or changing the loan term.

When it comes to business debt, consolidating your existing loan(s) with a lower-interest commercial loan can boost your cash flow by lowering your monthly payment and shortening your repayment period.


What to consider before refinancing small business debt

Depending on what you are looking to get out of your debt refinance, there are different factors to consider.

There’s more than one reason to consider refinancing your small business loan(s). Perhaps the payments you’re making on your current business loan primarily go toward interest rather than principal. Refinancing your business loan, also known as debt consolidation, can help you qualify for a longer-term loan with more affordable rates. Here are the most important factors to consider before applying:

  • Debt refinancing does involve paying interest on any interest already compounded in your current loan.
  • Does the loan you’re looking to refinance have prepayment penalties? Check the fine print first.
  • Have interest rates fallen since you took out your current loan? Consolidating your business debt into a lower interest loan could free up extra cash to put toward other needs and expenses.
  • Has your total debt level changed since the original loan was made? Business lenders will want to know the debt-service coverage ratio (DSCR) for your company. DSCR is used to calculate your business’s solvency and ability to repay your debt. So if you’ve taken on more debt recently, you may have trouble qualifying for an attractive refinance loan.

Now that you’ve considered different factors, your ultimate decision should depend on what you’re hoping to get out of your debt refinance. For example, in spite of a downside, loan consolidation may still be the right move for your business if you’re looking for a longer repayment term, lower interest rate, and/or less frequent payments.


5 Questions to ask your business lender about debt refinancing

Your business lender can help guide you to a better understanding of debt refinancing and its relevance to your business.

When pursuing any kind of business loan, including debt refinancing, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your business lender is here to help you review all business loan options and find the best solution to meet your needs. Here are some of the things you may have questions about:

  • How long will my new loan term be?
  • What are the closing fees?
  • Will the loan have a fixed or variable interest rate?
  • Is there a prepayment penalty?
  • If I don’t qualify for debt refinancing now, what can I do to improve my application next time?


Debt Consolidation vs. Refinancing

Debt consolidation and debt refinancing are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are differences between the two.

While debt consolidation and debt refinancing can be used interchangeably, there are some differences between the two. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Debt consolidation is a type of debt refinancing.
  • The purpose of debt consolidation is to take several different loans or credit card balances and pay them all off with one new loan.
  • Debt refinancing generally takes one loan and replaces it with a new one to achieve a better interest rate and loan terms.
  • The process of applying for debt consolidation or refinancing is the same. You’ll need to provide basic information about your business’s financial situation and credit history. You’ll also need to list the debt(s) you will be paying off with the new loan.


Pros and Cons of Debt Refinancing

It is important to consider both the benefits and the potential downsides of debt refinancing.

As with any big financial decision, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons first.


Potential Downsides of Refinancing

  • Prepayment penalty: Does your current loan have a prepayment penalty? If so, how much? You may still save more in interest by refinancing, but it’s something to check out. Also, if you really need to reduce your monthly debt payment to improve your cash flow, it may still be worth paying the prepayment penalty.
  • Getting stuck in a debt cycle: If this isn’t your first time refinancing, you may want to take a closer look at your business’s financial situation. Will refinancing this time help you pay the debt off or are you just perpetuating a debt cycle for your business?


Benefits of Debt Refinancing

  • Lower your monthly payment to improve cash flow and invest in your business.
  • Lower your interest rate to save money and off your debt faster.
  • Potentially improve your credit score
  • Refinance into a larger loan to take “cash out” and invest in your business or meet working capital needs.


How does debt refinancing work?

Your business lender is here to help you review all business loan options and find the best solution to meet your needs.

To start the debt refinancing process, apply for a new business loan from your business lender. At F&M Bank, we offer a variety of business loans, including small business financing through the SBA and traditional term loans for qualified borrowers. And as a longtime community bank, we are dedicated to investing in and supporting small businesses throughout the Shenandoah Valley. Our business lenders pride themselves on building lifelong relationships with clients.


Learn more about debt refinancing from F&M Bank!

Since 1908, F&M Bank has been offering business banking services in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. Trust the future of your business to our expert lending team. Wherever you are in the Shenandoah Valley, from Harrisonburg to Staunton, you can contact a member of our team or visit one of your local branches in Augusta, Page, Rockingham, or Shenandoah county to learn more about debt refinancing or to apply for a new business loan today.

Our friendly and experienced business lending team is ready to answer your questions and help you make the best choices for your company. Have questions? Get in touch today!

Benefits of Banking Local for Small Businesses in the Shenandoah Valley

Small business owners encounter many challenges in running a local business—banking shouldn’t be one of them. If you’re looking for the best bank for small business, look no further than Main Street. Your local bank offers the same products and services as the bigger banks, but with more flexibility in making lending decisions and saving you money on interest and fees. As reported by a 2020 Community Banking Study from the FDIC:


“Community banks provide their local communities with valuable products and services, including offering various loan products to business owners and developers, small businesses, and farms … Community banks also continue to meet the credit needs of less economically vibrant areas, such as rural counties experiencing population outflows.”


So, whether you are a relatively new small business owner looking to build a banking relationship, or you’re not satisfied with your current lender and looking for better rates/terms, keep reading to learn all the benefits of banking locally for small businesses in the Shenandoah Valley.

Personalized Banking Experience

Choosing a local banking and lending partner for your small business allows you to have personalized service to support your needs and business goals.

One of the biggest decisions you can make is how to choose a bank for your business. When you choose a local bank like F&M for your business banking needs, you get more than a banker or lender. Instead, consider us the newest member of your team. We build relationships with our business clients to support your needs and growth throughout the life of your business.

So, what does a personalized banking experience look like?

  • Anticipating your individual needs
  • Customizing loans and other services to meet your needs
  • Providing information and advice to support your business goals
  • Making ourselves available when you have a question

With personalized service, you are never just another account number. It saves you time to work with a local bank that knows your community and your business’s place in it. By anticipating your individual needs, we can make recommendations before you even realize it’s time to take the next step. Take it from Barren Ridge Vineyards in Fishersville, Augusta County:

“We have found F&M Bank to be everything a local bank should be: a bank that heard our story and believed in and supported our vision.”

Plus, we care about the same things you do. From volunteering with local charities to cheering for our kids at local sporting events, don’t be surprised if you run into your local business banker outside of the bank!

Customized Financing with Competitive Rates

Many small businesses and farmers choose local financial institutions as their preferred lender for multiple reasons, including flexibility and knowledge of the local community.

When it comes to lending options for small business, local banks represent more than their share of the market:

“Community banks represent 15 percent of the industry’s total loans but 30 percent of its CRE loans, 36 percent of small business loans, and 70 percent of agricultural loans,” according to the same FDIC study. This shows that while local banks may have a relatively small footprint, they are the lender of choice for many small businesses and farmers. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why:

  • Local banks often have more flexibility. With lending decisions made locally, there is more flexibility to lend to small businesses and customize financing.
  • Community banks offer lower fees and interest rates. In part because they are locally owned, local banks are able to help businesses save money on loan rates and fees for other business bank accounts and services. Every dollar saved makes a difference to a small business.
  • You don’t have to give up convenience. Local banks tend to offer the same perks and services as bigger banks such as online and mobile banking, remote check capture, credit card processing, and more.
  • We understand local needs and concerns. Community banks are part of the local economy, which thrives when local businesses are thriving. That’s why we are often able to approve small business loans that would likely be rejected by bigger banks.

As you can see, it pays to build a relationship with your local banker. When you need financing, we will make every effort to provide you with affordable loan terms and rates.

Community Focused, Just Like You!

When you choose a local bank for your business banking and lending needs, you are also reinvesting in the community.

If you’re still wondering, should I bank locally for my small business lending needs, keep in mind that the money you put into your local bank through deposits and interest paid on loans gets reinvested in your community through other loans and donations to nonprofits.


“F&M Bank is an exemplary model of what it means to be a community bank. Their support and involvement with local business and nonprofits is unparalleled, and we are proud to partner with them,” writes Kristi Williams, President & CEO United Way of Staunton, Augusta Co. & Waynesboro (SAW)

Local banks support the community in many ways, such as sponsoring local sports teams, financing construction in the community, and helping small businesses get on their feet and grow. So, when you choose a local bank for your business banking and lending needs, you are also reinvesting in the community. Larger banks often lack those social ties and interconnected relationships with the local economy and community.

Partner with F&M Bank for your business banking needs!

Are you looking for the best business lender in the Shenandoah Valley? For the past century, F&M Bank has helped local businesses like yours grow and thrive. Whether you’re expanding, remodeling, or making a business move, we tailor your loan to meet your needs. Our team walks you through the process and guides your experience with the personable attention your business deserves.

To get started, visit or call one of our convenient locations across Augusta, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Frederick counties.


Protect Your Business from Check Fraud with Positive Pay from F&M Bank

More and more people are falling victim to financial fraud and check fraud can affect your small business as well. While many business owners have simply stopped using checks, many of those same customers continue to use checks to pay their business expenses.

So how do you protect yourself and your business from fraudulent checks? If ceasing to use or accept checks in your business is not an option, there are other ways to prevent check fraud from impacting your business.

One way is to add Positive Pay to protect your commercial checking account.

→ Positive Pay matches the account number, check number, issue date, payee and dollar amount of each check presented for payment against a list of checks previously authorized and issued by your company.

→ Each time a check or series of checks are issued, a file of those checks containing the check number, issue date, payee and dollar amount is uploaded into online banking by your company. If a potential fraud occurs, you will receive an alert in online banking and be prompted to approve or reject the payment

→ Ways to reduce false positives and therefore work load of company employees:

  • Upload files of issued checks as they are dispersed. Any check not uploaded to the system presented for payment will reject;
  • Follow font best practices and guidelines (as shared by F&M Bank)

Interested in learning more? You have options!

Contact your local banker 

Reach out to us online

Use the Support feature when you are logged into online or mobile banking to start a conversation.

Understanding a HELOC and How To Use It: A Guide For Shenandoah Valley Homeowners

Your home is an investment in many ways, and once you accrue equity in your home, you have it at your disposal for financial uses. If you’ve been wondering why apply for a HELOC, we’ll walk you through what a HELOC is, all the things you can use it for, and how to make the most out of your HELOC. Whether you’ve built home equity from paying down your mortgage and/or the appreciating value of your house within the market, you can benefit from your ownership of the home to finance projects and consolidate debt.

What is a HELOC?

A HELOC shares similarities with products such as credit cards, but it has its own unique benefits that make it an appealing solution for homeowners with lending needs.

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is a revolving credit account, similar to a credit card, that provides a credit limit for a certain amount of time (the draw period). You only draw funds from the account when you need to, make payments on what you borrowed, and use the credit line again until the end of the draw period.


While a HELOC is similar to a credit card account, the primary difference between the two is what kind of interest rate you can get. Because HELOCs are secured by your home equity, you can get a much lower rate than you would with a credit card. So, financing home renovations and other large expenses with a HELOC is usually more affordable than using a credit card or personal loan. Depending on how much equity you have in your home, you may also be able to get a higher credit limit with your HELOC than with a credit card or personal loan.


The other attractive benefit of a HELOC is its flexibility. Unlike a Home Equity Loan, you don’t receive a lump sum that you have to use right away. In fact, some people use the HELOC as an emergency account. You can open it now and won’t owe anything until you first draw funds. Then you can use your HELOC as many times as you want to (up to the credit limit) through the draw period.

Using a HELOC for Home Renovation

Home Equity Lines of Credit are often used to finance projects that can improve the value of your home, such as home renovation.

Have you been dreaming of a brand new kitchen? Need to add an addition to your home to create office space or room for a new baby? A Home Equity Line of Credit is a convenient way to finance your home renovation.


  • Lower interest rates
  • Option to make interest-only payments
  • Possible tax deduction for interest paid on HELOC if the funds are used to buy, build or substantially improve your residence. Please consult your tax advisor regarding your particular situation.
  • Potential ROI when you sell your home from renovations financed through your HELOC
  • Variety of uses such as updating your home to meet your needs, improve energy efficiency, and more.
  • Great option for when you’re looking to sell your home but want to increase its value first

Using a HELOC For Debt Consolidation

If you are looking to consolidate debt from multiple sources, a HELOC could be a great option to centralize your payments in one place.

Are you drowning in credit card debt? Do you have so many different monthly debt payments, it’s hard to keep track?

Debt consolidation means taking out a new loan to pay off multiple debt accounts, such as credit card balances, personal loans, student loans, and more. Consolidating your debt with a HELOC could help you save money on interest and reduce the number of monthly bills you need to keep track of. And since HELOCs are so flexible, you may still have some credit left over to use on other things, or you can pay off your HELOC balance before using it again.

Using a HELOC For a Second Home or Investment Property

Whether you’re looking to purchase a vacation home or an investment property, you can use your HELOC to come up with a down payment on your second property and/or to make improvements and repairs to a second property you already own.

Financing Education Expenses

Whether you’re a parent with a child approaching college age, or an adult homeowner looking to return to school, a HELOC can also be used to pay for tuition and associated expenses with higher education, as well as private schools. Pay as you go and make interest-only payments if you need to keep your costs down while in school.

Paying Off Medical Debt

Whether you just got hit with a high medical bill, or you know an expensive surgery or treatment is coming up, you can use your HELOC as an emergency fund or to pay off medical debt. As mentioned earlier, HELOCs offer lower rates than credit cards, so it could be a more affordable way to pay your medical bills or any other large, unexpected expense that comes up. Preserve retirement savings and use your HELOC instead.

Tips For Getting The Most Out of Your HELOC

Review the tips below to further understand the best ways you can use and manage a home equity line of credit.

While there are many advantages to having a HELOC, you can get the most of your new Home Equity Line of Credit by following these tips:

  • Make on-time payments to avoid a late fee.
  • Pay more than just the interest due if possible.
  • Know when your HELOC draw period ends.
  • Review the terms of your HELOC and be mindful of fees.
  • Understand the closing costs associated with your HELOC.
  • Best used for smaller projects and expenses.
  • Try to use your HELOC, pay off what you borrow, and then use it again instead of maxing out your credit limit.

Apply for a HELOC From F&M Bank!

Looking for a HELOC lender in the Shenandoah valley? F&M Mortgage is a true local mortgage company that has served the community since 1999. Contact us to learn more or start the process of applying for a Home Equity Line of Credit. You can also apply online whenever you like, or visit your local branch office in Staunton, Harrisonburg, Winchester, or one of our locations in Augusta, Page, Rockingham, Frederick, or Shenandoah county to speak with a loan officer about your options.

Owning vs. Leasing Commercial Real Estate in Virginia

After finding the right property for your business, how do you decide whether to buy or lease it? There are pros and cons with both options, including the opportunity to build equity and profit off the future resale of your commercial real estate property. Keep reading for a complete guide to owning vs. leasing commercial real estate so you can make the best decision for your business. As always, our business banking team is here to help if you have questions!

Pros and Cons of Renting Commercial Real Estate

Leasing commercial real estate can come with flexibility, but also leaves missed opportunities on the table. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of leasing with the information below.

Let’s start with the benefits of renting a space for your business:

  • No down payment, just need a security deposit and first month’s rent
  • Usually cheaper on a month-to-month basis, including fewer expenses for upkeep
  • Flexibility to move after lease is up if you outgrow the space or want to be in a newer building
  • Get the most desirable location possible, even if it’s not for sale
  • Easier accounting since your rented space is just a monthly expense, not an asset or liability

On the other hand, you need to consider these potential drawbacks:

  • You won’t build equity or benefit from capital appreciation if the property value rises
  • Rent is a monthly expense forever, whereas a commercial mortgage can eventually be paid off
  • You may be responsible for certain upkeep expenses on some leases
  • Rent may increase annually or with each new lease
  • No opportunity to earn passive income by renting out part of your space to others

Buying Commercial Real Estate: Pros and Cons

Owning commercial property tends to require preparation but comes with benefits for those looking to buy real estate instead of leasing. In the section below, we cover the pros and cons of buying real estate for your business.

Thinking that buying might be the way to go? Here are the benefits you stand to reap:

  • Equity increases over time and the asset value appreciates
  • Potential tax benefits and breaks for interest, depreciation, and other expenses
  • More control over the property and design or renovation decisions
  • Potential for renting out to other businesses
  • Improvements to the building and property add value for your business as the owner
  • Fixed mortgage payments as opposed to your rent potentially changing

On the other hand, owning may come with more expenses and responsibility:

  • Need enough cash upfront for a down payment, closing costs, and other fees
  • Can be hard to qualify for commercial real estate financing
  • Have to budget for the ongoing costs of upkeep
  • Less flexibility since you’re tied down to the location
  • Liability

Tips for buying commercial property

Once you understand how buying commercial real estate work and some of its related terminology, you'll be on your way to getting started. Explore our tips for buying commercial property below and reach out to our team for further assistance.

If you’ve only purchased residential property before, you’ll want to work with an experienced commercial real estate agent and ask questions throughout the process. Commercial real estate is a different animal from buying a home to live in, but once you understand how it works and the different terminology, you’ll be an expert in no time.

  • Some of the best commercial properties are not necessarily listed, which is why working with an experienced commercial real estate agent is so important.
  • Talk to your real estate agent at the beginning to be sure you understand how the buying process works and what information you’ll need to provide along the way.
  • When you’re ready to start the buying process, also talk to us about financing for your commercial real estate property. We can walk you through the steps and paperwork required to apply for a commercial real estate loan.
  • As you look at different properties, consider zoning, closing costs, tax issues, and environmental conditions.
  • If the building already has tenants, you’ll need to negotiate with the current owner/landlord over assignments of existing leases and delivery of current rents due. You’ll also want to obtain copies of the rent rolls and existing leases to make sure that neither the tenant nor seller is in default and that there is no past-due rent.
  • Negotiating with commercial landlords can be challenging. They can look to keep some legal tricks hidden from you:

Contact us with all your CRE needs and questions!

Wherever your business is headed, F&M wants to help you get there. As a trusted community bank, we understand local business like no one else and believe that one business’s success contributes to the success of the entire business community.  For more help with the buying process, F&M Bank is here to be your local commercial real estate expert in Virginia. Real estate is a local business, so when you’re looking for a commercial land loan or other type of commercial real estate loan in Augusta County, you want to work with a local bank who knows the market. Call us today to discuss your business goals and we’ll help you reach them with flexible financing options.