3 Ways New Homes Guide Can Help You Find Your New Home This Summer

Posted: June 20, 2017 at 3:39 pm by: NewHomesGuide

New Homes Guide

The sun is shining and we’re ready for months of warm weather ahead, which means it’s a great time to be shopping for a new home.

We’ve been helping new home shoppers find their dream homes in the Mid-Atlantic region for decades, and we know we can help you, too. So if you’re ready to get out, catch some rays and choose a beautiful new home that you and your family will absolutely love, here are the three ways we can help.

The Region’s Most Comprehensive Guide

Available in print and online, New Homes Guide is the Mid-Atlantic region’s only complete guide to every new home community in the area. Featuring listings for condos, townhomes and single-family homes, this free guide makes it easier for you to find a great community to call home, no matter where you want to live.

Powerful Online Search Tools

Know exactly what home style, features, options and community amenities you absolutely need? Use our website’s powerful search tools to pinpoint the communities and homes you want to tour in a matter of seconds. With more than 30 search filters to choose from, you’ll have no problem finding exactly what you’re looking for, faster than you ever thought possible.

Free Supplements

Our insight and expertise extends beyond the pages of New Homes Guide and our website. Whether you’re trying to find the perfect floorplan or need some advice about relocating, we have the right supplemental resources for you. And best of all, they’re completely free, too!

We know how exciting it is to shop for a new home, and we hope that you have a great time exploring all of the great communities and homes in our area. Just remember, there’s no one way to shop for homes, but the most informed home shoppers are usually the best home shoppers. Happy house hunting!

From Floorplan to Lot Options: How to Make Smart Choices

Posted: June 16, 2017 at 9:41 am by: NewHomesGuide


If you’re buying a new home for the first time, you’re probably most excited to get to the fun stuff of personalizing your home. Before you jump into the design center and start studying your kitchen counter options, it’s good to understand how the process works.

For many buyers who have not purchased a newly built home before, determining which features are standard and which features are optional can be a little confusing. Model homes often include upgrades and additions that cost extra money, so as you tour homes be sure you ask the sales professional about included features.

Match Your Floorplan with Your Lot and Your Budget

By the time you’re ready to make a final decision and have narrowed your choice to a specific community and builder, you should have a solid understanding of your budget including the cash you need for a down payment and closing costs and the amount you plan to finance with a mortgage.

As you visit model homes and study floorplans, you’ve probably identified the style of home you prefer and the layout, such as one with an open floorplan with a central kitchen or one with the kitchen at the back or front of the house.

At the same time, you should look at the site plan and discuss which lots are available and which you might prefer. You should ask about future development plans so you know whether a swimming pool, park or child care center will be located nearby. Some buyers would love to have those amenities next door, while others may want to live a little farther away from potential noise. Consider your entrance and exit from the community, too, particularly if it’s a large development. If you opt to be far from the main road, that could add a little to your commute time on busy mornings, but it may also be a more peaceful location.

It’s best to narrow down your choices to one or two floorplans and consult the sales professional about whether these particular models are available on the lot you want. Not every floorplan can be built on every lot. In some cases, there are issues with the size or configuration of the lot, so perhaps there won’t be space for a three-car garage or a sunroom. In addition, builders often commit to diversifying the look of a neighborhood with a variety of exterior styles so you may not be able to build the model you want if the adjacent lots are already under contract to have the same model built.

In some cases, lot premiums are charged for the most desirable lots, so you’ll need to decide if you want to spend the money to get your preferred view. A sales professional can help you match the floorplan you want with your lot preferences and your budget. (more…)

Getting Financially Ready to Buy a New Home

Posted: June 8, 2017 at 8:45 am by: NewHomesGuide

imageThe excitement of choosing a floorplan, envisioning your rooms and selecting options is undeniable, but before you get to that fun part of purchasing a new home, you need to be financially ready.

In fact, your financial preparation should begin before you start looking at new homes so you can visit models with confidence about your budget and your ability to pay for your new home.


Start with Your Credit

If, like most people, you haven’t reviewed your credit reports, start by requesting your free credit reports from all three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also pay a small fee to receive your credit score. Check for inaccuracies: it’s estimated that one in four credit reports has a mistake. Correcting those mistakes can take time.

CreditScoreImageYou should aim for a credit score of 740 or higher in order to pay the lowest interest rates. If your credit score is less than 640, you may have trouble qualifying for a conventional loan. If you’re making a down payment of less than 20 percent, you’ll need to pay private mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance companies base their rates on several factors, including your credit score. Even if you qualify for a loan, you could be paying a higher interest rate and higher private mortgage insurance premiums if you have a low credit score. An FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan, insured by the government, is an option, but these loans also require you to pay mortgage insurance.

Improving your credit score can take months or longer depending on your individual issues, but if you’re having a home built you can use that time to boost your score. (more…)

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:


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.

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.


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 www.wcralston.com.

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 NewHomesGuide.com 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.

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 2.10.59 PM

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!

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