Military Homebuyers and Understanding the VA Loan

Posted: August 28, 2015 at 11:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

The Washington, D.C. metro area is home to many active-duty military personnel and veterans from all service branches. As an expert in the Mid-Atlantic region’s new homes market, we know that the needs of military families are unique and constantly evolving; however, just because military families may be on the move regularly, it does not mean that homeownership is out of the question. In fact, there are many benefits to homeownership as a military service member and some of the best loans are reserved for those who serve or have served our country.

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What is a VA Loan?
A VA loan is a unique type of home loan that is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The program was created to offer special long-term financing to eligible veterans. The program carries many benefits, including:

  • Allows veterans to qualify for loans that exceed traditional conforming loans
  • No down payment required on home purchases
  • Choose either fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage
  • Lower closing costs
  • No monthly mortgage insurance payment required

To find out if you are eligible for a VA loan, check with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

 

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) & Military Tax Benefits
Active members of the military assigned to duty in the United States but not living in government housing may be eligible for the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), an entitlement that compensates members for the cost of housing. BAH funds are paid monthly and are not taxable.

Factors that determine amount of BAH:

  • Rank or pay grade
  • Location in the United States
  • Whether or not you have dependents

Factors that do not affect amount of BAH:

  • Amount of rent paid
  • Number of dependents

The Defense Travel Office has a handy tool for estimating your BAH.

Once you become a homeowner, you may be able to deduct 100% of your mortgage interest. Check Military.com/Finance/Taxes to learn how.

 

Active-Duty Members
Active members of the military who face an imminent Permanent Change of Station (PCS) stand to benefit from a number of measures designed to ease the cost of their move, including:

  • Reimbursement of lodging and meal expenses
  • Transportation allowance
  • Free transport of your belongings, with the weight allowance determined by pay grade
  • Permission to travel to your new area to search for a home

Visit Military OneSource to find more information on benefits for active-duty members on the move.

 

Homebuying Glossary: Financing Terms You Need to Know

Posted: August 21, 2015 at 11:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

Buying a home can sometimes feel like learning a new language. Before you ever meet with your builder or lender, arm yourself with knowledge of the terms and definitions so you can begin the homebuying process with confidence.

Here are a few key terms that you need to know to get yourself through the homebuying process:

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  • Closing Costs – Expenses incurred by buyers and sellers in transferring ownership of property, such as an origination fee, taxes, title insurance, transfer fees, points, title charges, credit report fee, document preparation fee, mortgage insurance premium, inspections, appraisals, prepayments for property taxes, deed recording fee and homeowners insurance.
  • Escrow – Funds that are set aside and held in trust by the lender/servicer. Usually used for payment of taxes, insurance, etc.
  • Home Inspection – A complete and thorough inspection of the physical condition of a property, including all major systems and structural elements, conducted by someone who knows what to look for and who will disclose the findings to you.
  • Pre-Settlement Walk-Through – Final inspection of house prior to closing, conducted by builder and buyer.
  • Walk-Through Inspection – A final walk-through immediately prior to closing to verify that no changes have taken place and no new damage has occurred.

Now that you’ve got a headstart, you’re ready to dive into the full glossary of terms that will help guide you through every step of homeownership.

 

Home Loans 101: The Basics of Borrowing for a New Home

Posted: August 18, 2015 at 11:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

For most, buying a home means borrowing money from the builder, a bank or another financial institution. This borrowed money is known as your “mortgage.” A variety of mortgage programs are available, with varying loan terms and interest rates, so it pays to understand what you’re getting into.

For context, a typical home loan is 30 years at a fixed interest rate. Over the life of your loan, you’ll be paying back the principal (the amount borrowed) plus interest. You should expect to be paying back the principal with monthly payments throughout the life of the loan. To fully grasp how a home loan works, you should understand the five components that go into a mortgage.

 

The Five Main Components to Your Loan:

There are five key components that go into your mortgage. Understanding each of these components will help you make an informed decision on what kind of loan you should choose when buying a home.

1. Principal: The amount of money that you’re borrowing, not including interest.

2. Interest: A fee that the lender charges for providing the loan. The borrower must repay this money in addition to the principal.

3. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): Insurance the borrower must pay to guard against a loan default. If your down payment is less than 20% of the principal, expect to pay for PMI.

4. Term: The length of the loan.

5. Escrow: A portion of your mortgage payment that goes to property taxes and insurance.

 

Common Mortgage and Loan Programs:

Fixed-Rate Mortgage (FRM): Although the interest rate tends to be higher than an adjustable-rate mortgage, fixed-rate mortgages have the advantage of an unchanging interest rate that proves to be ideal for long-term buyers. Because the interest rate on these loans is consistent throughout the life of the loan, an FRM is generally viewed at a safer long-term option.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM): Unlike a fixed-rate mortgage, an adjustable-rate mortgage has an interest rate that can vary throughout the life of the loan. In contrast with an FRM, the initial interest rates on these loans tend to be lower. Although the adjustable interest rates make these loans riskier than FRMs, the interest rates are capped to limit the amount of potential increase.

Jumbo Loan: A loan is considered “jumbo” if it exceeds the conforming limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These high-balance loans generally have higher interest rates, stricter terms and larger down payment requirements than standard loans.

Government Loan: A government loan is any loan that is sponsored by the federal government. These loans offer lower interest rates because they’re secured by the backing of the United States government. Some examples of these loans include:

Understand the Loan Application Process & Take Control of Your Credit Score

Posted: August 7, 2015 at 4:01 pm by: NewHomesGuide

Getting a mortgage these days can be challenging. We hear about the issue constantly, but what can YOU do to put yourself in the best position to obtain the best mortgage? Here are some basic steps to keep your credit looking good and ensure that your financial picture doesn’t change during the mortgage application process.

Find Out What Your Credit Score is Right Now

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You may have checked your credit score in the past year, but you may not be aware of changes that have posted to your credit report — either correctly or erroneously — that have affected your score. All three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) must provide you with a free report annually, so be sure to get a copy from each. One of the easiest sites to work with is AnnualCreditReport.com.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Even one or two late payments can greatly affect your score, so be sure to stay on track with your payments and due dates. Setting up automatic payments is a great method to make sure you don’t ever miss a payment.

Income Should Be Steady and Reliable

It sounds basic enough, but it is important to understand that lenders really like to see at least two years of employment within the same field along with the supporting documentation. If you hold a commission-paying job, you may need even more time in that field to receive positive marks from lenders.

Don’t Splurge After You’re Approved

Don’t go out and buy that new boat (or car or motorcycle or any big ticket item) as soon as you get a loan approval. New loans can adversely affect your credit during the critical period from loan approval through settlement, so you should hold off on any major purchases until you’ve gone to settlement. If you absolutely must buy something, talk to your lender first.

Consider Keeping Those Old Credit Cards

A common theme among buyers is the desire to close old credit cards. That’s not necessarily the best move, so you should talk to your mortgage lender before doing so. Lenders want to see credit history and a reasonable amount of available credit. Closing cards can affect both of those.

These are just a few tips to help you buy your dream home this year. Bankrate.com offers additional mortgage and homebuying advice, and you should definitely take a look at their recent article “Anxious About Mortgage Process? Start Here.” Of course, lenders are great resources, so you’ll want to talk to them to get guidance tailored specifically for you. Happy house hunting!

Why Everyone Should Evaluate Schools Before Choosing a New Home

Posted: July 30, 2015 at 11:30 am by: NewHomesGuide

You might be looking for a new home in a better school district. Or it might not be an issue for your family.

Either way, schools should play a big part in any homebuying decision. These days, parents and children aren’t the only ones who may feel the lasting effects of a school’s reputation. Your home’s value may feel it, too.

Before making a major investment in a new home, take a look at these great resources available to help home shoppers with or without children.

On GreatSchools.org and Education.com, you can search and compare school ratings, stats and much more. Even if school districts are not important to you right now, they may be important later or be a critical factor for the family that moves in after you.

For those of you who rely heavily on a school’s reputation when it comes down to a home buying decision, Project Appleseed has good advice on how to evaluate and choose a school based on child, family and school characteristics. The website can help you find information on individual schools and gives recommendations from the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Here are NAESP’s questions to ask when choosing a school:

  • Have you read the school district’s annual report?
  • What is the school’s discipline policy?
  • What services are available at the school?
  • What is the school’s safety policy?
  • Is there an active parent organization?

When searching for your new home, be sure to ask homebuilders and your Realtor for information on the reputation of schools in and around your areas of interest. Both can be great resources when making a home purchasing decision.

 

 

5 Rooms Dads Will Love in Your New Home

Posted: June 16, 2015 at 11:39 am by: NewHomesGuide

If you’re considering buying a new home, you’ll want to make sure that it’s the right design, the right floorplan for your entire family.

With Father’s Day upon us, this is a perfect time to think about what Dad wants in a new home. What are the places in a home that he truly appreciates?

We’ve recently introduced a new feature on NewHomesGuide.com. It lets you search by room type and browse a collection of corresponding photos. When one jumps out at you, a simple click lets you find out who built that room and where you can find it.

So here are some rooms we think dads (and the rest of the family) will love:

RECREATION ROOM
Today’s builders are really taking basements to the next level. A well-designed recreation room can become the heart of the home and the place where the family spends quality time together.

STUDY
Whether Dad works from home or he just likes to relax with a good book and a bit of quiet time, you can find a sophisticated, exquisitely designed study that he’ll love.

SUN ROOM
There’s no better place for a dad to unwind with a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper than a well-lit sunroom.

WET BAR
If your dad likes to entertain, he’ll definitely want to include a wet bar in a new home. He can impress your guests with his ability to craft the perfect drink.

MEDIA ROOM
Is Dad a movie buff? Or maybe a huge sports fan? Either way, he’ll love taking in the action from a comfy spot with a large-screen television in his new media room.

Wet Bar - Drees Homes


While you’re celebrating Father’s Day this weekend, pull up NewHomesGuide.com and let Dad spend some time imagining the possibilities.

The Best Floorplans of 2015 Are On Display in Our New Supplement

Posted: May 13, 2015 at 11:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

Do you love to look at floorplans and imagine the perfect one for your new home?bf_cover_2015_final_72

Our Best Floorplans 2015 supplement will fill you with ideas. Get your copy with the May/June issue of New Homes Guide, available now in print or online.

This supplement showcases the latest trends in new home design. You’ll see more than 50 floorplan profiles from builders across the Mid-Atlantic region. Browse beautiful single family homes, condominiums and townhomes in a variety of sizes, styles and price points.

From first-floor owner’s suites to second-floor laundry rooms, you’ll find plenty of great ideas for your new home. We’ve included detailed information about each design and each community to help you find your new home faster.

Our Best Floorplans 2015 supplement also offers a deeper look at the floorplans using our convenient Mobile Web App. Download the app and scan the floorplan’s QR code to see an expanded version on your smartphone or tablet. You’ll discover additional details, as well as photos, video and more.

This supplement is an indispensable tool for your new home search. We know you’ll find the floorplan for you.

Get to Know Brookfield Residential

Posted: May 5, 2015 at 12:31 pm by: NewHomesGuide

The cover of our May/June edition of New Homes Guide features Brookfield Residential. With communities in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware, Brookfield Residential builds single family homes and townhomes in amenity-rich neighborhoods with wide appeal.

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Some of its most popular communities are in the hot Northern Virginia market. Homesites in these neighborhoods are selling fast. In a few communities, Brookfield is entering the closeout phase with only a few homes left.

At Belmont Glen Village in Ashburn, only one Move-In-Now Home remains. Featuring Brookfield’s signature style and energy efficiency, this Wesley home design is large and luxurious. It includes an owner’s suite with vaulted ceiling, an upgraded kitchen and a finished rec room on the lower level.

Belmont Glen Village offers home buyers excellent amenities, including a pool with bathhouse, a tot lot and nature trails. Close to the Dulles Greenway and convenient to D.C., this community feeds to award-winning Loudoun County schools.

Saranac at Lake Manassas combines the natural beauty of lakeside living with gorgeous Arts and Crafts architecture. The final homesites have been selling fast, and now only a handful remain.

The wooded homesites and the homestyles that Brookfield offers in this community embody the best of Lake Manassas living, including lush, protected vistas and great amenities like pools, picnic areas and a trail system, plus access to excellent local schools.

Don’t miss the final opportunity to find your perfect new home from Brookfield Residential in one of these amazing communities. And see the new edition of New Homes Guide for more information about other Brookfield communities.

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Community Spotlight: Willowsford, a New Kind of Green Community

Posted: April 8, 2015 at 11:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

New Homes Guide is proud to feature Willowsford on the cover of our March/April issue, available now in print or online.
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This one of a kind community is located on the north and south sides of Route 50 in Ashburn and Aldie, Virginia. Willowsford is inspired by the natural environment, community connections and daily experiences that add up to a memorable life.

Of their 4,000 acres, 2,000 acres of Willowsford’s land have been set aside for environmental preservation, recreation, trails and agricultural use. The other 2,000 acres feature homes from 8 of the area’s finest homebuilders, each collection of homes designed exclusively for Willowsford and their 4 intimate neighborhoods.

This land, managed by The Willowsford Conservancy, includes an elaborate network of trails through dense woodlands and pastures, Willow Lake, a 300-acre working farm, and land designated to remain as open space.

Willowsford Farm is an essential part of the farm-to-table lifestyle here, featuring fresh vegetables and farm products. Homeowners can participate in the community supported agriculture program or shop at the Willowsford Farm Market.

Willowsford is comprised of four neighborhoods—called villages—in some of Virginia’s most beautiful country. The Grant and The Grange are north of Route 50 in Ashburn, VA, and The Grove and The Greens are south of Route 50 in Aldie, VA.

The community is brought together by an outstanding and unique array of amenities already in place. The Lodge at Willow Lake links The Grove and The Greens and is reminiscent of a large family lake house. It includes a grand patio, bocce courts, a yoga lawn and event lawn, a pool complex and a terraced sun deck overlooking the mountains. The Boat House Information Center is also here with a fishing dock, outdoor fire pit, canoe launch and storage.

Sycamore House, the centerpiece of The Grange, is an elegant community gathering space in the grand mansion style highlighting a teaching and demonstration kitchen. It overlooks a grassy outdoor amphitheater and opens onto a large village green surrounded by “country-formal” gardens with a fish pond, and a resort-style swimming pool with cabanas and a sun ledge. The Tenant House Information Center is also located here.

Visit Willowsford and you’ll see for yourself how their signature home designs highlight this amazing location and the lifestyle that it offers today’s homebuyers and why they’ve been chosen as Community of the Year three years in a row.

New Homes Guide has everything that you need to find the perfect new home in this unique community today. Or visit WillowsfordNHG.com for more amazing details.

Find a New Home and Make a Quick Move in Washington, D.C., and West Virginia

Posted: March 26, 2015 at 11:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

Whether you’re considering downtown style in Washington, D.C., or the perfect spot in West Virginia, once you get the itch for a new home, it’s hard to wait.

The good news is you don’t have to wait.

When spring approaches, homebuilders start offering great prices and incentives on Move-In-Now Homes. You’ll find the year’s best selection of already built homes with options and upgrades you’ll love. Find the home that catches your eye and you could be living the life you desire in a matter of weeks.

If you want to beat the spring homebuyer rush, you’ve come to the right place. Start your search at NewHomesGuide.com

Comstock Homes – Townes at The Hampshires

Dan Ryan Builders – Stonebrook Village

Kettler Forlines Homes – Hammond Mills

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