What It’s Like to Live in Montgomery County

Posted: May 23, 2017 at 8:27 am by: NewHomesGuide

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Like many suburban areas of Washington, D.C., Montgomery County has a highly educated population with household incomes to match. The county’s median household income ranked 15th among all counties in the U.S. at $98,917 in 2015 and 31 percent of the population has a postgraduate degree, the fourth highest percent in the nation.

Montgomery County is known as the heart of biotechnology research among Mid-Atlantic states, with government agencies such as the Food & Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health working alongside private institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, which has locations in the county for academic research. Other major employers in the county include Discovery Communications, headquartered in Silver Spring, and Marriott Hotels, headquartered in Bethesda.

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Over one million people live in the county, which offers a variety of housing choices and lifestyles from sophisticated urban living in Bethesda and Silver Spring to walkable town center communities in Rockville and Gaithersburg to planned communities in Germantown and Clarksburg to rural areas in upper Montgomery County. Metro’s Red Line links neighborhoods from Friendship Heights on the edge of D.C. to Shady Grove in Gaithersburg along with stations from Silver Spring to Wheaton and Glenmont with downtown amenities, but there are plenty of cultural and recreational pursuits to be found within the county, too.

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The Strathmore in Bethesda, which offers art, dance and music programs at three venues, is one of multiple institutions that support the arts in the area. The Round House Theatre in Bethesda and the Olney Theatre in Olney offer well-respected plays and musicals and the AFI Silver movie theater in Silver Spring is known for its independent and vintage film festivals. Nearby, concertgoers can see an eclectic mix of performers at the Fillmore. Families enjoy classes and performances at Imagination Stage in Bethesda and Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo. Glen Echo Park, a beloved institution, also has artist’s studios, a carousel and dance parties. Free outdoor concerts and movies can be found at a variety of locations all summer.

The county also has plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, which provides a weeklong annual celebration of the area’s agricultural roots. Classes and leagues are available for youth and adults through county recreation centers including swimming, softball, basketball, golf, tennis, fencing, gymnastics, soccer, table tennis and volleyball. Numerous venues in the county provide places for ice skating, bowling and indoor soccer, as well as outdoor sports.

Montgomery County’s schools are highly regarded and offer additional opportunities for youth sports, music and theatre. The county has a robust public library system and community centers for classes and activities of all kinds.

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Housing in the county clusters in the urban areas of downtown Bethesda and downtown Silver Spring, as well as near the county’s Metro stations. Revitalization is occurring along Rockville Pike through North Bethesda to Rockville, with new housing being built within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Planned communities with walkable amenities are also under development in Gaithersburg and Clarksburg.

Proximity to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore make Montgomery County appealing for commuters, but the county has plenty of attractions of its own to entice people to visit and move there.

Written by Michele Lerner, this story originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of New Homes Guide. Reserve your free copy of New Homes Guide today for additional stories, area highlights and more.

What it’s Like to Live in Prince William County

Posted: May 18, 2017 at 3:17 pm by: NewHomesGuide

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Prince William County, once an agricultural region and the site of intense Civil War battles, has become Virginia’s third most populous county, with more than 430,000 residents. The median household income, which reached $99,206 in 2016, makes this county the 16th wealthiest in the U.S. Prince William County residents are also highly educated, with 41 percent of adults having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

While many residents live and work in the county, more than one-third of all adult residents commute to neighboring Fairfax County or into Washington, D.C. for employment. Prince William’s main arteries include I-95 and the Route One corridor, along with I-66 and the Prince William Parkway. The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) provides an additional transportation option with multiple stations in the county that link to Union Station in downtown Washington.

Among the county’s largest employers is the Quantico Marine Corps Base, which is also home to one of the area’s most popular attractions: The National Museum of the Marine Corps. Plans are underway to build the American Wartime Museum adjacent to the Marine Corps Museum.

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The old stone house in the center of the Manassas Civil War battlefield site near Bull Run.

Other historical attractions in the county include the Manassas National Battlefield Park, site of a major Civil War battle. Rippon Lodge in Woodbridge, one of the oldest homes in the county, rests on a 43-acre estate and is open to the public for tours. The Weems-Botts Museum in Dumfries, owned by George Washington’s first biographer, also provides insight into the region’s colonial past. The City of Manassas has historic sites as well as a mix of shops and restaurants.

The Town of Occoquan on the Occoquan River attracts visitors year-round to its art galleries, shops and restaurants. Additional shops and restaurants can be found in centers throughout the county, particularly near population centers in Haymarket and Gainesville. Potomac Mills Shopping Mall in Woodbridge has more than 200 stores.

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Colorful field of tulips in Haymarket, Virginia. Haymarket is located in Prince William County.

Outdoor amenities in Prince William include miles of Potomac River shoreline, forests, rivers and lakes for hiking, camping, fishing and boating. George Mason University’s Potomac Science Center, a research facility, is located at the confluence of the Occoquan and Potomac rivers.

The Prince William Forest Park, Leesylvania State Park, the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge are among the largest open areas in the county, which also has numerous parks and ball fields. The county has more than 50 parks, six sports complexes, two water parks, two community centers, multiple marinas and ice skating rinks.

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If you prefer watching performances and listening to music, Prince William has a large outdoor concert venue, the Jiffy Lube Live amphitheater in Bristow, which hosts nationally and internationally famous musicians. The Hylton Performing Arts Center and the Harris Pavilion in Manassas both provide venues for opera, ballet, classical music and big bands.

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Prince William County’s housing developments include golf course communities, active adult communities, family-oriented planned developments and urban-style communities within walking distance of VRE stations, shops and restaurants. While it’s considered more affordable than some of the D.C.’s area’s closer-in suburbs, housing prices have been steadily rising in the county to a median sales price of $329,900 in February 2017.

Competition for homes in the county has become heated as buyers recognize the value of living in this relatively more affordable county that offers the benefit of proximity to Washington, D.C. along with amenities of its own.

The Great Outdoors: Tips to Make the Most of Your Exterior Living Spaces

Posted: May 12, 2017 at 1:58 pm by: NewHomesGuide

The indoor-outdoor connection is one of the most vital and potentially unique aspects of your home’s design. As we’ve written about previously, your home’s relationship to its surroundings is shaped by the elements that bridge the gap, with the spaces outside often considered as an extension of those inside. Whether it’s for entertaining or relaxation, and regardless of scale, climate and location — there ways to harness the most of your home’s potential for outdoor living. Here are few ideas we’ve compiled for inspiration:

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Photo Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Your view is a primary consideration for the design of your exterior space. Orienting openings and sightlines will ensure you’re looking at something pleasing or have the privacy you desire from views into the space. This home is nestled inside an opening within a dense collection of trees, giving a stellar backdrop to the extensive amounts of glazing on the rear side of the home. With no visible neighbors, this design works to capitalize on the views and natural light without making its owners feel exposed.

Image Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography & W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography & W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

When your home is situated on a small lot or you have other adjacent homes in close proximity, the design calls for a different approach. A small recess is carved out of the home’s footprint to create this terrace. Although it’s not inside, surrounding this space with the walls of the home on three sides, this space feels like a true “room.” It also allows for views between distant, otherwise disconnected, corners of the house — making it feel larger and more open.
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Want the Perfect Floorplan for Your New Home? This Free Guide Can Help.

Posted: May 9, 2017 at 9:08 am by: NewHomesGuide

Best floorplans 2017Need some inspiration for the design of your new home?

Our free supplement, Best Floorplans 2017, can help you find and create the perfect space for you and your family.

Featuring more than 50 floorplan profiles from the region’s top homebuilders, this supplement, which is available in print and online, will help you envision every room, living area and feature of your new home. And with highlights of the latest design trends for single family homes, townhomes and condos, you can find exactly what you need, regardless of what home style you’re looking for.

From main-level owner’s suites to rooftop terraces — the possibilities for your new home are limited only by how far you’re willing to let your imagination go. And because we’ve included details about each design and community featured in this supplement, you can find your new home faster once you’ve envisioned the ideal design.

When you pair Best Floorplans 2017 with your copy of New Homes Guide, you’re empowered with unparalleled home shopping tools that can help you find the floorplan, community and home you’ve always dreamed of.

Ready to start dreaming about a floorplan that you and your family will love? Reserve your free copies of Best Floorplans 2017 and New Homes Guide today.

 

Brookfield Residential Showcases Its Innovative Attitude on Our New Issue

Posted: May 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm by: NewHomesGuide

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When it comes to innovation in homebuilding, there’s no question that Brookfield Residential is focused on leading the way. That’s why we’re proud to have it as our latest cover homebuilder, so it can lead the way for our newest issue.

As the “Mid-Atlantic’s most innovative homebuilder,” Brookfield Residential has made a name for itself with projects like the PureBlue Home, The Smart Home and other groundbreaking achievements in homebuilding.

What all these revolutionary ideas and accomplishments mean for you, the home shopper, is that you can choose award-winning, energy-efficient home designs that feature the latest in-home technology to make everyday life easier and more affordable.

The trailblazing homebuilder has found a way to change how homebuyers stay connected to their new home during the construction process, too. With its My Brookfield Home app, Brookfield has empowered its customers by ensuring they’re always ready for every step while their homes are being built.

Brookfield Residential understands that innovative homes are only as good as where they’re located, though. And that’s why it builds single family home and townhome communities in some of the most desirable destinations across Maryland, Virginia and Delaware.

You can find an exceptionally innovative Brookfield Residential home of your own at one of 14 communities highlighted on our website and in the pages of our latest issue. Reserve your FREE copy of New Homes Guide online now, or pick up a copy at your local newsbox, Harris Teeter or Safeway to see more today!

Follow These 4 Steps to a New Home

Posted: April 26, 2017 at 2:47 pm by: NewHomesGuide

New Homes Guide

As you buy your first newly built home, being the original owner of a new home is exciting. While the prospect of buying a home can be a little intimidating, breaking down the process into a few steps can make it easier to get started.

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<p><span style=1. Work On Your Financial Plan
Visiting model homes and daydreaming about what you want in your own home can be a good way to develop your knowledge about houses and your preferences, but before you get serious about shopping you need to know how much you can afford to spend. If you don’t already have a monthly spending plan, now is the time to develop one. Before you can determine your new housing budget you need to know how much you currently spend on your housing and other expenses. Most financial advisors recommend that you stay in a home five to seven years or longer, so while you can project some increase in income, you should also consider future expenses such as an expanded family, saving for college and for retirement.

Deciding on your own comfort level with a housing payment rather than relying entirely on a lender is essential because only you know about discretionary spending for vacations, golf or skiing or your preference to sweep as much cash as possible into a retirement account.

Next, consult a lender who will review your credit, your income, your assets and the minimum payments on your debt to prequalify you for a mortgage. It’s important to meet as early as you can with a lender in case you need to improve your credit score or fix mistakes on your credit report, which could take a few months.

Your lender can talk to you about the pros and cons of loan options. You’re not obligated to take out your loan with this lender, but meeting with one gives you a solid understanding of how much you can afford to borrow and an estimate of your upfront costs. You can compare loans with various down payment amounts to see what fits your financial plan best.

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2. Decide Why and When You Want to Move
Understanding your motivations to move and your timeline for moving should be your next step. Think about your goals for the next five to ten years and how a new house will fit into that plan. If you’re moving for a new job or to live in particular school district, that can streamline your choices for a new home. If you want a larger or smaller home or to live closer to the city or to a town center or to a Metro station, that, too, can help narrow your priorities.

Unlike buying a resale home that’s ready for you to move into within a month or two at most, you may have to wait six to nine months for a new home to be built. However, many builders have homes that are partially built that could be ready in two or three months or even one or two that are move-in ready. Decide when it would be ideal for you to move based on your current lease or the need to sell your house or your kids’ school schedule or to save more for a down payment and then match that with a homebuilding timeline.

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3. Establish Your Priorities
A great exercise, particularly if you are buying a home with a spouse or partner, is to physically make a list of everything that’s important to you in your property from the basics such as whether you want a townhouse or a single family home and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms to design features such as an open kitchen or a walk-in closet. Write down your ideal location such as near shops or a park or a Metro station or a skating rink where your kids can play ice hockey.

Think about whether you want a house that you can customize as much as possible or whether the ability to make one or two decorative choices will satisfy your need for personalization.

It may be that sticking to your budget and finding a house you can easily afford is more important than anything else or that the location in a community you like matters more than the house itself.

Once you’ve made your lists, rank the items so you and your partner can see where you would each be willing to compromise and when something is nonnegotiable. Keep these lists handy as you start shopping for a new home. You may find that your priorities change as you see what’s available in your price range, but it’s always wise to have a way to refer back to your original intentions when you’re ready to make a decision.

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4. Shop Online and In-Person
Now that you’ve got your financial plan, your timeline and your priorities in order, it’s time to have fun. In addition to perusing New Homes Guide for information about builders and communities, you can shop online and look at photos, floor plans and descriptions of homes on builder’s websites. Using those resources can save time, but visiting model homes in person is essential. While you’re out shopping, make sure you understand which features are standard and which are included. A model home naturally includes the best amenities available, so ask how much those upgrades cost. Find out how much you can modify a house. Some builders allow structural changes, but others limit your choices to one of two or three packages of cabinet and counter finishes.

Check out the community amenities, and if they are planned for the future, ask when they are scheduled to be completed. You don’t want to be a frustrated swimmer who waits years before the neighborhood pool is open.

You should also get an understanding of the long-term plans for the community. Buying in the beginning or the end of development each has pros and cons, so it’s a good idea to consider them when choosing a home. For instance, early buyers may get a lower price but they could have to wait longer for amenities and will be competing against new construction if they have to sell. Late buyers will have fewer choices for their lot and may be paying a higher price depending on how well the homes have sold.

Don’t forget to check out the surrounding neighborhoods and ask about future plans for development.

Each of these steps prepares you to make an informed decision about the best new home community to suit your needs.

This story originally appeared in the March/April 2017 edition of New Homes Guide. Reserve your free copy of the New Homes Guide print edition today.

The New American Home Showcase for Modern Design

Posted: April 21, 2017 at 9:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

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For 34 years, the National Association of Home Builders’ Leading Suppliers Council and Professional Builder magazine have collaborated with architects, builders, product suppliers, home technology consultants and green building consultants to build a “New American Home” in conjunction with the annual International Builders’ Show.

This year’s home, designed and built by Phil Kean, architect and principal of the Phil Kean Design Group in Winter Park, Florida, is a contemporary-style lakeside home with a golf course view located in the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, home to numerous professional tennis players and golfers.

The design of the one-level house, which has 8,245 finished square feet, was inspired by the lavish mid-century modern houses in Palm Springs, California favored by Frank Sinatra and other members of the “Rat Pack.”  The house is on the market for $5.929 million. (more…)

New Interior Design Trends for 2017

Posted: April 18, 2017 at 3:45 pm by: NewHomesGuide

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These directives are moving the design marketplace to a clean, minimal and contemporary design styling that appeals to a broad market.

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We are seeing refinement in furniture lines, art, appliance and finishes everywhere in the industry — design is clean, simple, crisp, fresh. A perfect example of refining is the toilet! Whatever brand you choose, the loo has become a fashion statement and footprint savvy. You can choose to conserve your flush, and you can admire your throne as museum worthy. Cool toilets are in!Photo

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Repurposing, reclaiming and conserving is becoming mainstream in the design industry. Green is gold and good for the “footprint” generation. Natural elements evoke a positive move to a healthier decision. This trend is in our organic grocery shopping, our use of plants that require less water, and the choice to recycle antique furniture. Succulents are replacing more delicate, needy foliage inside and out, and live edge tables and rough-finished woods evoke ethical yet beautiful choices.Photo

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What’s new and next has become a cultural expectation. Trends change at warp speed. Attention spans are short and demanding. Being innovative and savvy is essential if you want to grab attention and excite every generation today. We indulge in the innovations that live smart and inspire us. Induction stove tops cook faster, cool down instantly and are safer for little fingers. Smaller sinks can be multi-function as surface space when needed, kitchen storage needs to be more efficient and ergonomic, and washer/dryers are now sexy!

Guest blog by Interior Concepts, Inc., which is an award-winning full-service design firm based in Annapolis, MD. Please visit them at www.interiorconceptsinc.com.

Moving to a New Area? The Relo Guide Can Help Put Your Mind at Ease.

Posted: April 14, 2017 at 2:38 pm by: NewHomesGuide

The Relo GuideIt’s perfectly normal to feel nervous or excited — or both — about moving to a completely new area. Fortunately, New Homes Guide is here to put your mind at ease by helping you learn more about the place you’ll soon be calling home.

Inside the pages of The Relo Guide, a free supplement we offer in addition to our magazine, you’ll find everything you need to know about all of the most sought-after areas surrounding our nation’s capital.

Everything from schools, day care services, utility companies, moving services, recreational activities, entertainment venues, shopping and dining locations, and much more is covered to help you get acquainted with where you want to live — making you more confident about your move as a whole.

The Relo Guide also includes profiles for dozens of the area’s top homebuilders and planned communities to help you choose the perfect neighborhood to call home. And if you’re ready to move sooner rather than later, you’ll also find hundreds of listings for Move-In-Now Homes that are already built and ready for you to make your own right now.

Moving to a new home is always an exciting time, and we’re here to help make your transition to a new area easier and more enjoyable every step of the way. So don’t forget to order your free copy of The Relo Guide today.

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