Blog Archive for February, 2016

A homeowner’s uses for a tax refund

Categories: Blog | Posted: February 25, 2016

If you’re among the 80 percent of Americans who receive a refund on your income tax return, you’re getting ready to experience the joy of “found money”.

The average refund on an income tax return is about $2,800. You might already have that refund earmarked for a particular purpose—like a well-deserved vacation—but if you’re undecided, why not put the money to work for you?

For homeowners who are preparing to put their home on the market, invest that money in home improvement. You could spend $2,800 on kitchen or bathroom upgrades, which deliver a return on investment when you sell your home. Bathroom and kitchen remodels and upgrades deliver the highest ROI in your home. Painting the walls in your home is one of the least expensive improvements you can make, but one that always makes a big difference in a space. Replace your home’s lighting fixtures for a simple update.

Maybe add a kitchen backsplash or paint the cabinets. Replace the kitchen sink and faucet, installing a desirable faucet with a pull-down sprayer and perhaps the touchless feature.

Do your floors need a new life? The average cost to install ceramic or porcelain tile is $1,588 per room and laminate flooring will run about $2,816, according to HomeAdvisor. So, this upgrade might be within your tax refund’s reach.

Take a look at your closets. Do they need a makeover? You could install a closet system for anywhere from $150 to $700. Not only will the organized closet increase your home’s appeal to a prospective homebuyer, but it will also help you organize all that clutter that has been hiding in there.

If you need to improve your curb appeal, apply your income tax refund to sprucing up the exterior. For $300 to $600, you can replace your front door. Or save that money and repaint the one you have, and use some of your refund to improve the landscaping around the entrance. Upgrade the exterior lights at the entry. Add container gardens by the door.

Whether you plan to sell your home in the near future or just want to invest in a more comfortable, updated, and appealing place to live right now, one of the smartest uses of a tax refund for a homeowner is keeping that money right at home.

Tips for Enjoying Homebuilding

Categories: Blog | Posted: February 18, 2016

If you’ve been thinking about building a new home, there are probably people who are stepping up to warn you about the experience, based on their nightmares (or those of their hairdresser’s cousin’s neighbor’s friend).

When you choose to work with a reputable, experienced, professional homebuilder, you can avoid the headaches on the road to getting the home of your dreams. Here are some tips that will guide to through an enjoyable homebuilding process.

  1. Choose your builder carefully. The quality of the builder will be reflected in the quality of the home and the construction process. Make sure the builder you hire has the proper state licenses, experience, and references. Visit homes and talk to homeowners, if possible. Be sure the builder you select has built homes like the one you want, so you’re not paying for someone’s learning curve. Ask about warranties and scheduling. Be clear about what is included as a standard feature and which ones are considered upgrades and options.
  2. Establish clear expectations. At the outset, map out what you expect for the experience. How often will you need updates? Will they automatically be provided so you don’t have to chase someone down? Do you want to be able to visit the construction site? How often? Whom do you contact with questions?
  3. Understand your budget boundaries. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of all the changes happening in your home, but be careful you don’t let your enthusiasm drive up your costs. Know what you can afford to spend. Also be aware of where you are willing to compromise—e.g., better kitchen cabinets and less expensive flooring. Before you agree to any costs beyond the original estimate, ask for an outline in writing that details exactly what you’re getting.
  4. Plan ahead. Measure twice, cut once is an important concept to remember. Avoid making changes once construction is underway, because it will likely increase the cost of building your new home. Discuss your vision, goals, and style with your builder and home designer, so they can use their knowledge and experience to give you the home that best suits you. Once you’ve agreed that this is your dream house, stick with the plan.
  5. Never assume. Ask questions. Keep in touch with your team: the builder, the designer, and the lender. If you have concerns, doubts, or ideas, express them.

Remember, at the other end of this journey is a new home and a new life. There may be some bumps in the road, but it’s how you navigate that makes the difference between an enjoyable homebuilding process and a frustrating one.

The Benefits of Buying a New Home with an Online Sales Counselor

Categories: Blog | Posted: February 11, 2016

The process of starting the search for your new home can be daunting. So many choices! It can be like hitting a car dealer’s showroom when you make contact. The salesperson puts on a big smile and hits you with the pitch. You’ve probably already done some research, but you want to kick the tires and inhale that new car smell to move you closer to a big decision.

Meanwhile, the car salesperson is sizing you up like a five-course meal.

That’s not what your new home buying experience should be. Most builders today utilize the helpful skills of an Online Sales Counselor (OSC) to gently guide you through the process of narrowing down your choices and getting answers to even the most minute questions. There is no sales pitch. The OSC’s job is to give you information that will help you determine the path to your new home purchase.

Why does it matter whether you search on your own or work with an OSC? Here are the benefits of working with an Online Sales Counselor when you’re buying a new home.

  1. You get fast answers. You will have lots of questions as you browse the Web, looking at homes, plans, developments, and builders. An OSC is your inside source for information, saving you time and giving you the detailed answers you might not find on your own. Remember, a website is designed to give you some information, not all. The goal of any website is to entice you to act.
  2. You can information on special programs. OSCs are on the inside. They know what sales incentives and financing are being offered at any given time. When you ask them a question, they will get you the answer or direct you to the knowledgeable source.
  3. They know the properties. The OSC is trained to understand the features of every community and the homes there. If you have certain criteria in mind—location, type of neighborhood, design features, or maybe need a home that will be available quickly—the OSC can show you your options.
  4. There’s no pressure. It is not the OSC’s job to sell a home. They don’t provide the property tour or review options and specs with you. Their job is strictly to be your information source, your connection to the builder and the community—but not the salesperson.

When you’re serious about finding the right new home and community for you and your family, start by talking to the homebuilder’s Online Sales Counselor. This person will contact you shortly after you leave an inquiry on the builder’s website. They will make themselves available to handle your interests until you’re ready to visit a community and take a tour. Think of the OSC as your personal, home-searching concierge. They will manage everything from sending you floor plans and elevations to connecting you with a lender and scheduling your personal tour. Maximize the efficiency and your time by accepting the help of an Online Sales Counselor, and you’ll discover how smooth the path to purchase can be.

Why should you use a builder’s preferred lender?

Categories: Blog | Posted: February 4, 2016

You have many lenders just a click away when you’re ready to look for a mortgage. When you’ve decided on your builder, you will most likely be given one or more preferred lenders to consider.

With so many choices out there, why should you use a builder’s lender?

First of all, let’s look at why the builder endorses a lender. He wants to work with a company that understands the building process, as well as the needs of the buyer. A preferred lender has proven, over and over, that the builder’s customers deserve high priority. That means rapid response—even on weekends and after business hours, because that’s when they’re often needed. A preferred lender doesn’t follow “banker’s hours”.

In addition to being responsive, a preferred lender knows he is expected to provide accurate, detailed information and answers. Delays are not just frustrating; they can be costly. The builder’s preferred lender is skilled at keeping the financial end of the process moving, so both the buyer and builder have the peace of mind that your closing will proceed as scheduled.

A preferred lender maintains a close relationship with a homebuilder. This relationship can yield a lot of business for the lender. So, you can be sure this mortgage professional bends over backwards to satisfy the homebuyer. To earn the “preferred” honor, the company must do more than hand out an application and stick to a script. The lender you work with will explore many options to find you the best mortgage program for your needs. They might offer incentives that other lending companies can’t or won’t.

When you want your calls answered or returned promptly, when you want to be sure that someone is personally tending to your mortgage process and shares your commitment to getting it done, consider using the builder’s preferred lender. Certainly, contact other lenders to see what they offer. Talk to other buyers who have used the lenders you’re considering. Your best decision is an informed one!

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