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.


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.


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.


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.

Homebuying Advice: How to Choose Your Loan Term

Posted: March 17, 2017 at 3:58 pm by: NewHomesGuide


When you’re ready to finance your new home, you’ll need to decide between a fixed-rate and adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) and to decide the length of your loan term. While the majority of borrowers choose fixed-rate mortgages and first-time buyers in particular prefer a 30-year fixed-rate loan, there are some advantages to a shorter loan term and to an ARM. (more…)

Elevation Design: The Basics of What/How and Why It’s Important

Posted: February 26, 2017 at 4:20 pm by: NewHomesGuide

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

While it is not a term widely used by homeowners, or outside of architecture and construction circles, the elevation is a unique consideration and tool employed in the design of any home. As a drawing, an elevation is a two-dimensional projection perpendicular to the vertical plane – meaning, it is a flat view seen while the “observer” is looking forward.

Most commonly, elevations portray the individual sides of a house. In this sense, they’re an interpretation of a three-dimensional view and are not actually experienced when looking at the house. 

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Like other architectural drawings, elevations are a set of instructions. They’re directions for how many, where to position, how to connect the pieces of a puzzle…or house! They’re a means of communicating a connection between inside and outside (where the windows are located and how tall the roof is), but also a glimpse into the design process. 

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

When an architect or designer is developing a concept for a house, they’ll likely begin by loosely drawing the plan to organize spaces and determine how big it will be. In doing so, they’re considering things like “What room should get the most light?” and “Where is the best view?” or “What rooms need to be concealed for privacy?”. These all work together to establish the house’s footprint, which significantly defines the mass, or shape and scale, of the house. 

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

As the house takes shape, details such as the openings and trim are refined. Using the flat plane of an elevation drawing, the architect or designer is able to work through and verify the relationship of pieces that shape the face of the house. A design’s success is measured largely on the balance of its composition – nothing should be added/removed or enlarged/reduced without spoiling it. It should come as no surprise that the adage, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is a mainstay among designers.   

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Elevation drawings are emblematic. Unlike floor plans, they’re less abstract and don’t require much translating to comprehend. A well-executed elevation should be both informative and evocative. As basic drawing conventions in the design industry, lines representing building materials (like brick, stone, and siding) are intended to have a tangible quality. Looking at these images, you can recognize characteristics like scale, texture, and reflectiveness as much as you can identify doors, windows, roofs, and columns – even with an “untrained” eye.

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

This is what makes elevations special. In residential design specifically, people are often drawn to and compelled by familiarity and nostalgia. Your home should be a place of comfort and this can be derived, in part, by association – the bay window off your living room reminds you of days waving back to your family as you left the house. Or, the chimney peaking over your roof makes you think of winters spent in front of the fire. These sentimental qualities are powerful and are rooted in visual memories. When working with an architect or choosing a design from a builder, this type of recognition will resonate with you – it will ensure that you not only understand the home you’re building and that it meets your expectations, but it captivates you as well. 

Guest blog courtesy of W.C. Ralston Architects, an architecture and planning firm that has built an enduring reputation for design excellence in homes, neighborhoods and communities across the Mid-Atlantic region. Learn more at

Find the Ideal Walkable Community with New Homes Guide

Posted: February 16, 2017 at 10:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

Family Walking Along Street With Shopping Bags

When it comes to living in the DC metro area, driving and commuting usually come with the territory. But if enduring a long drive to get to and from work or nearby amenities doesn’t sound enticing, you’ll be glad to know that there are still plenty of options for walkable, accessible living in our area.

In a walkable community, you’ll have unparalleled access to the places that matter most. Shopping, dining, entertainment, recreation, mass transit — it’s all right at your fingertips when you choose a home at one of these accessible destinations.

Because you’ll be spending less time getting to the places you want to go, you’ll get to spend more time actually enjoying them. In some cases, you may even decide owning a car is optional because of all the transportation options that become available to you. That’s why we recommend these communities to young families with tight schedules, busy professionals or people who are just looking for a low-maintenance lifestyle.

Finding a walkable community with the help of New Homes Guide is easy. Many of our featured condo listings come from accessible, urban communities. But you can also pinpoint the exact location and home style you’d like by using our powerful search tools.

Simply visit and start your search by entering relevant information in the “Search for Your New Home” section at the top of the page. And once you’ve entered the necessary information, select “+ Search Options,” and you’ll be presented with the list below.

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From there, select “Walkable Living” to filter your search results. You can also select “Metro Accessible” or any of the other amenities you’d like to have in your new community to narrow your search further.

There are so many great walkable communities to choose from on our website, and today is the best day to get your search started. And don’t forget, you can always find more information about all of the communities in our area in the latest issue of New Homes Guide.

Find the Perfect Move-In-Now Home with Our New Supplement

Posted: February 7, 2017 at 10:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

Young Couple Moving In To New Home Together

This is the ideal time to be shopping for a new home. Prices and interest rates are at historic lows, and many of the region’s top builders have an incredible selection of Move-In-Now homes to choose from.

With a Move-In-Now home, you don’t have to wait to get the home you’ve been looking for — with all the features, finishes and upgrades you’ve always wanted. And our new supplement, Move In Now, will help you find one of these homes to call your own.

Featuring hundreds of listings organized by geographic area, this new supplement provides a glimpse into the beautiful condos, townhomes and single family homes that are ready right now — from the DC metro area to the Eastern Shore. And when you find the listing that piques your interest, you can visit our website to get an even closer look at the home.

Move In Now is included for free within the latest issue of New Homes Guide, so all you have to do is pick up your copy today at Safeway, Harris Teeter or your local newsbox. And, as always, you can order your free copy online now!

Design Encyclopedia: Know Your Home’s Roof

Posted: January 30, 2017 at 11:54 am by: NewHomesGuide

The roof is one of the most fundamental elements of building. Beyond “keeping the rain out,” it also has a big impact on the appearance and style of your home. We’ve compiled this brief summary outlining the various conventional roof types found in residential construction. Use it as a guide to orient yourself in your next home purchase so that you can better understand how your home performs and achieve the right look for the style you desire.


Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

The gable roof is iconic – beginning with the first illustrations we make of our homes as children, the simple triangular shape is one of the most universal images of “house” we can imagine. In essence, its functional merits also provide a clear visual for the design – a single ridge and sloped sides that shed water and snow, while providing attic space on the inside. The gable is simple and effective, which is one of the main reasons why it is so prolific in residential building. It is also one of the most versatile roof types, in that a slight change in pitch (steepness or slope) can give your home a completely different appearance, denoting a key trademark of a particular architectural style. Here are a few examples:

Photo Credit: Tom Fields Photography

Photo Credit: Tom Fields Photography

Craftsman style homes are often characterized by a wide, single gable with a very low slope. The wide roof overhangs can be traced back to the style’s origins in the western United States, where shading the coastal sun was a key design consideration.

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

A steeper slope can give your home a more Contemporary flair. In this example, its simplicity makes a bold statement.


Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Hipped roofs are sloped on all sides, terminating in either a pyramid-like point or a ridge that spans one direction across the house. Like gabled roofs, their simplicity is a key facet of the design – water sheds evenly to all edges of the roof, making it easy to distribute downspouts around your house and control water drainage on your lot. Because of their shape and assembly, hip roofs tend to be lower and, thus, limit available attic space. The hip shape also limits the amount of exterior finish material needed on your house – if you imagine the “triangle” shape of a typical gable roof being replaced with a hip, you can eliminate all of the siding or brick required to cover that wall surface.

Just as with gable roofs, a change in pitch and overhang can alter the character and style of your home. These variations below are classic takes on the hip roof:

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects

Prairie style homes exude low, horizontal lines. Their roots in the flat plains of the central United States are indicative of the solid, grounded feel these homes possess.

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Georgian style homes lie on the opposite end of the spectrum with large, sweeping hip roofs. Their height gives the appearance of grandeur and anchors the symmetrical openings on either side of the central front door.


Photo Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Photo Credit: Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Another variation on the hipped roof is the mansard. Its popular origins are derived from French architecture in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the government levied property taxes based on the number of stories a building had. The mansard roof was born as a response, tucking a habitable attic space under steep “roof” planes (which function more like walls) that cap the top of the building. Now, mansards are found most typically in urban neighborhoods in an evolved form with ornate details categorized under the Second Empire and Chateau styles. These roofs function just like a hip roof, but have two sloped portions with differing pitches on each side of the home.


Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

The most straight-forward and distilled option in roofing vocabulary is the shed. Every component of the design is rooted in a particular function or consideration – from light and heat, to loads and structural assembly, to interior space and acoustics. Shed roofs are ideal for maximizing ceiling height, natural light throughout your home, and the efficiency of your heating/air conditioning system. They can offer the greatest amount of exposure where you want the sun to hit the house and reduce the heat that’s lost through surfaces on the cold, dark side. In terms of style, shed roofs make their appearance in more Contemporary applications, but were originally seen in the earliest, most humble forms of architecture.


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

This classification is actually a bit of a misnomer, as roofs really can’t be “flat” and still effectively function as a means to distribute water off the top of your home. As we’ve explained, roofs rely on a positive slope to prevent the pooling of not only water, but also snow, ice, and leaves. The flat roof is a mainstay of Contemporary architecture, expressing the purest, most minimal way to terminate the walls of a building. In reality though, it is actually one of the most sophisticated roof types in residential construction – requiring multiple complex considerations of the way materials, edges, openings, and loads perform together. In the example above, a small wall around the entire perimeter of the home (parapet) conceals a network of subtle ridges that channel water to several deliberate openings (scuppers) that drain off the roof. The result is a hyper-clean look with only a few carefully curated materials and a shape that is equally bold.

Guest blog courtesy of W.C. Ralston Architects, an architecture and planning firm that has built an enduring reputation for design excellence in homes, neighborhoods and communities across the Mid-Atlantic region. Learn more at

Use New Homes Guide to Find Your New Home This Year

Posted: January 20, 2017 at 9:00 am by: NewHomesGuide

New Homes Guide

The hardest part of a New Year’s resolution is sticking with it and seeing it through to the end. If finding a new home is on your list of resolutions this year, however, it’s a lot easier than you might think — you just have to have the right tools to help you out.       

That’s where New Homes Guide comes in.

With our powerful set of online search tools and, of course, our trusty print guide, we’ve been helping new home shoppers just like you find their dream homes in communities across the Mid-Atlantic region for more than four decades.

No matter what stage of the home shopping process you’re in, and no matter what you’re looking for — a Move-In-Now Home, the perfect condo or even the ideal builder for your new home — we have the resources to help you get the home you want sooner and more confidently. And with a wide variety of additional supplements to choose from, you can get even more focused in your new home search. Here are a few of our free supplements to consider adding to your New Homes Guide order:

  • The Relo Guide — Moving to a new area? We have all the info you need to make a smooth transition.
  • Best Floorplans — Get the inside scoop on the homebuilders designing the best, most innovative floorplans.
  • Interiors — Need some interior design inspiration for your new home? You’ll find it here.
  • Planned Community Lifestyle — Looking for a resort-style community? We’ll help you find the top master-planned community in your area.

We firmly believe that your new home shopping experience should be fun and rewarding, and we think you’ll love earning a gift card while you shop for your home. To learn more, check out our Rewards for Shoppers — it’s easy, and it’s free.

Ready to cross that new home resolution off your list? Start your search on, or order your free copy of our latest issue online today. Happy house hunting!

Design Forecast: 4 Big Ideas for 2017

Posted: January 3, 2017 at 3:26 pm by: NewHomesGuide

A new year is upon us! As we leave 2016 behind and set our sights forward, we’ve compiled our list of the top residential design concepts that are ready to make an impact in the year ahead.

1. Clean & Modern

When it comes to home exteriors, this sentiment represents the preference of the overwhelming majority of prospective homebuyers. While one’s interpretation of “modern” seems to differ from person to person, this tends to suggest a couple key elements: clean lines and many (often large) openings. As general concepts, these are not exclusive to the contemporary style and can enhance the appearance and quality of any home.


Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

As a prime example, Modern Farmhouse is a prolific style that is inherently both traditional and progressive. With roots derived from humble rural vernacular of the American South, these are simple houses with subtle detailing. The monochrome color palette, minimal trim, corrugated metal roof, dark windows, and mitered siding all give them a refined edge while preserving the qualities of their forebearers.

Choosing the Best Homebuilder for Your Dream Home Just Got Easier

Posted: December 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm by: NewHomesGuide

Evergreene Homes


The smartest home shoppers know that finding the perfect community and ideal home style is only the first step towards getting their dream home. They know that among all of the homebuilders in the area, some stand above the rest as the best partners in the homebuilding process.

When it comes to homebuilders, there are many options to choose from. It can be overwhelming, but with the right tools, you can make an informed, confident decision about which company you’ll entrust to build your new home. And if you’re looking for the best tool to help you get to that point, look no further than our Building Leaders 2017 supplement.

Filled with profiles and insights on the area’s most accomplished homebuilders, Building Leaders 2017 makes it easy to understand which builders in your target area provide the best design, construction principles and service by highlighting industry affiliations, awards received and more.

If you’re ready to take your new home search to the next level and become the most informed home shopper possible, order your free copy of our Building Leaders 2017 supplement today, as well as New Homes Guide and our other great supplements.





Tricks of the Trade: Creating the Ideal Exterior Palette for Your Home

Posted: November 27, 2016 at 2:44 pm by: NewHomesGuide

As the dark and dreary days of winter begin to bear upon you, a feature on color is just the remedy you need. We’ve put together the following ideas and tips on everything you need to know when selecting the exterior materials and finishes for your home.

1. Site & Landscape

It’s important to consider factors that are beyond your immediate control – the land around your home typically falls into the category. When approaching or passing your home from the street, what effect do you want to convey? Is it more muted and nestled within the landscape (like the home below) or do you desire a stark contrast to the home’s surroundings? Color is a decisive factor for this consideration – adjusting the brightness and darkness of the hue will affect its visual impact among trees and other plantings.


Photo Credit: Hoachlander Davis Photography

If you live in an area that experiences a dynamic range of seasons, you’ll find that this decision is one that should be made with a variety of conditions in mind. The creamy almond color of the parged brick on the home below is well-suited to “pop” against lush green grass, vibrant oranges and red leaves in fall, and a stark white, snow-covered yard during winter. (more…)

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