Choosing the Right Window Coverings

Posted: September 27, 2017 at 11:23 am by: NewHomesGuide

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Fundamentally, blinds, shades, and shutters all serve the same purpose. They control sunlight or privacy — or both. Window coverings also play an important role in interior design. But which makes the most sense for you? Well, that is entirely dependent on a few key factors: personal preference, budget, and placement.

Blinds

In terms of functionality, blinds tend to provide the greatest level of light control. These window coverings consist of slats or vanes that can be tilted at various angles to regulate light flow. The entire window treatment can also be raised or lowered, furthering light control and privacy.

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Our Recommendation: Wood blinds are at home in almost any room, but are best suited for the dining room or living room, areas where light control and aesthetic appeal are most important. Faux wood blinds, made from vinyl, are also an excellent choice for the kitchens and bathrooms as they provide a superb simulation of real wood. The The vinyl material is better able to stand up to high moisture environments like kitchens and bathrooms.

Shades

The term “shades” refers to a wide range of stylish window coverings, such as roman shades, honeycomb shades (cellular shades), roller shades, and pleated shades. However, each operates is fundamentally the same manner – you raise or lower the window treatment to regulate light flow.

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Our Recommendation: Shades tend to work best in rooms where privacy is the biggest concern – like the bedroom or bathroom. Honeycomb Shades are a favorite for bedrooms due to opacity options like room darkening and lift options like top down/top down bottom up. The Top down/ bottom up lift option lets in light without sacrificing privacy.  These window treatments allow more privacy by giving users a choice of opening window shades from the bottom up (the traditional method), or from the top down. The latter permits light to enter without giving up any privacy.

Shutters

High-quality Hardwood Shutters are like furniture for your windows-especially when made by Next Day Blinds. From casual to elegant, traditional to contemporary, the style of almost any room can be enhanced with Shutters.

Our Recommendation: The truth is that shutters, whether wood or vinyl, work in just about every room. From wood shutters that seamlessly integrate with your millwork and window trim to vinyl shutters perfect for high-moisture areas.

 

About Next Day Blinds
Founded in 1993, Next Day Blinds is a local business devoted to providing premium-quality, fully custom window coverings. Our headquarters and state-of-the-art manufacturing facility are located in Jessup, MD, just about 25 miles from Washington, D.C., and 15 miles from Baltimore, MD. With our fully integrated, end-to-end business model, we are able to provide a more customer-focused experience. This level of integration is designed to ensure your ongoing happiness, and it helps us match our passion for high-quality products with an uncompromised dedication to customer service. These are the values that matter to you, and to us. www.NextDayBlinds.com

Breaking Down the Exterior Evolution of New Homes

Posted: September 19, 2017 at 8:56 am by: NewHomesGuide

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The Bradbury Model from Toll Brothers

Exterior elements and connection points are among the most popular interior design trends to date. Ironic, isn’t it? Homebuyers are yearning for simplicity more than ever as technology untethers us from traditional spaces, and our natural instincts draw us back to the serene outdoors.

Interior trends are influencing exterior design while exterior features are influencing interior design – Are you still following? Good. They’re essentially breaking down each other’s boundaries so that every square foot is tailored by an uninterrupted flow of design.

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Let’s break down the interior walls and talk about the exterior evolution happening in home design:

  • Fit and finishes feature natural elements, but with a modern twist.
  • Interior refinement is moving outdoors with more elegant lighting and new dining hubs.
  • Flooring is breaking the boundaries and extending from the indoors to the outdoors in a seamless fashion.
  • Walls are losing space to windows to provide more natural light.
  • Movable walls are becoming increasingly popular.

Two of the four top macros inspiring home design is converged living and escapism needs. These are the driving factors that are making outdoor spaces so important to homebuyers. Master bedroom balconies, backyard porches, multiple entrances, side yard living and rooftop living are the most desired outdoor connection points according to new consumers.

No acreage? No problem. Rooftop/patio living is a great solution for townhomes and condominiums that have minimal land (As seen in the Bradbury Model by Toll Brothers).

Even more so then just the connection points, outdoor design makes a significant impact on a home buyers decision. These trends can not only make a visual impact but can also increase the overall value of a home:

Poolside Fireplace

What started as a trend in the multifamily industry has now moved to our very own backyard – quite literally. Pools are often the centerpiece of a backyard surrounded by lounge seating, grills, gardens and now fire features. The juxtaposition of fire and water brings a beautiful aesthetic to outdoor spaces and will keep your backyard feeling warm and cozy. Consider a linear style fireplace for a more modern outdoor design.

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The Arlington model at Arundel Grove by Craftmark Homes. Designed by Builders Design.

Outdoor Kitchen

According to NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) outdoor kitchens are one of the ‘hottest housing trends’ in the industry and can increase the homes overall value. Much like the interior kitchen, an outdoor kitchen is an entertainment feature where family or friends could gather with guests. Don’t forget the finishing touches when creating your outdoor haven – Establish a living room that extends beyond the kitchen complete with comfortable seating. (As seen in Craftmark Homes, Arundel Mills Model, Design by Builders Design).

Additionally, to not interrupt the flow of design, create a symmetry between the indoor and outdoor kitchen. Use materials that are compatible with the home’s architecture and landscape, pending on their durability (Ask yourself: “Are highly resistant to grease stains? Can the material withstand high temperatures?”). And lastly, increase the function of an outdoor kitchen by incorporating heaters and rain protection to ensure year-around use.

Written by Marnee Duffus, a sales and marketing specialist with Builders Design, this story originally appeared in the September/October issue of New Homes Guide. Order your free copy of New Homes Guide for more tips, advice and trends.

Get the Ultimate Guide to the Area’s Top Planned Communities

Posted: September 14, 2017 at 10:35 am by: NewHomesGuide

planned-comm_cover_so17Could you see yourself living at a resort all year long?

We know, it’s a tough question. But if you answered “yes,” a planned community might be exactly what you’re looking for during your new home search. Read on to learn more about these extraordinary places to call home and how to find them in the DC metro area.

What is a planned community?

Even more than traditional new home communities, planned communities are defined by the exceptional amenities they offer. These all-inclusive destinations often feature sought-after amenities such as pools, sports courts, open spaces and fields, trails, in-community shopping, dining and more.

These popular communities are formed when homebuilders and land developers work together to create amenity-rich neighborhoods that often resemble small towns — all for the benefit of homebuyers.

How to find the perfect planned community.

Make no mistake, not all planned communities are created equal, but you don’t have to rely on a search on the internet to help you find the perfect one to call home.

With The Planned Community Lifestyle, a free supplement we offer in addition to your complimentary copy of New Homes Guide, you can learn more about the features, benefits, pricing and amenities you can expect to find at the best planned communities in Maryland and Virginia. And once one of the communities listed in this free guide catches your eye, you can dig deeper into the details about what makes it such a great place to call home.

It’s easier than ever to find the ideal planned community in your area — you just have to start your search! Place your order for your free copy today, or start exploring The Planned Community Lifestyle now with our digital edition.

Understanding Your Homebuying Budget

Posted: August 18, 2017 at 8:50 am by: NewHomesGuide

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Financial planning is an essential element of the homebuying process, one that ideally takes place even before you begin shopping for your new home.

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or are buying a newly constructed home for the first time, you should develop a personal budget so you can make a smart and sustainable decision about your purchase.

While a mortgage lender should be your ally and consultant during the process of buying a new home, keep in mind that your lender won’t know every detail of your finances outside of what appears on your credit report and bank statements. If you want to maintain retirement savings or invest in college savings, make sure you have room in your budget for those expenses.

Lender Budget Requirements

Lenders prefer to approve loans for buyers whose “front-end ratio,” which refers to the monthly housing portion of your expenses compared to your monthly gross household income, is 28 percent or less. For example, if your annual household income is $150,000, your maximum housing payment including principal, interest, taxes and insurance should be $3,500.

Your “back-end ratio,” which compares the minimum payment on all recurring debt and your housing payment with your gross monthly income, should be a maximum of 42 percent. However, if you have excellent credit or significant assets in the bank, your lender may approve a loan with a higher debt-to-income ratio. If your annual household income is $150,000, your housing payments and minimum payments on things like a car loan, a student loan and credit card debt should be a maximum of $5,250. (more…)

5 Ways You Can Save Money When Buying a New Home

Posted: August 9, 2017 at 9:27 am by: NewHomesGuide

Money-Saving Tips

Worried about being able to afford the new home you’ve always wanted? Here are five simple yet powerful tips that can help you save money on your new home now and well into the future.

Set a Budget and Stick to It

You won’t know where to aim if you don’t have a target. That’s why, first and foremost, you should establish your budget. By going into your new home shopping experience with a clear understanding of your personal financial status and goals, you’re less likely to overspend.

Decide How Much Space You Really Need

How big your home needs to be varies greatly based on the size of your family and how you plan to use the space.

Do you need an extra guest room if you don’t plan to have guests stay often? Or a large, formal dining room if you’d rather just share meals in an open kitchen? Weigh the options and consider that just about every homebuilder will work with you to find the perfect design and can adjust the floorplan to meet your needs.

By choosing a stylish, flexible home design that gives you everything you want, you’re well on your way to getting your home at the price you need.

Consider Energy-Efficient Options Carefully

One of the biggest benefits of buying a new home instead of a resale home is the fact that many energy- and money-saving features come built in.

Low-e windows, efficient furnaces and programmable thermostats are included standard in many new homes, but most homebuilders will offer additional efficiency options such as solar panels, high-efficiency water heaters, etc. Although these options will likely add to the total price of the home, the monthly savings incurred can offset the upfront costs and even pay for themselves in the long run.

Have a builder sales agent walk you through the savings and potential tax benefits of each energy-efficient option available and determine which ones fit best in your short- and long-term budgets.

Shop Around for the Right Mortgage

Choose between a fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage and decide the length of your loan term. Once you do that, you can start shopping around for rates from lenders.

Different lenders will offer different prices, so you’ll want to talk to a variety of them to understand what sort of rates, fees and down payment you can expect. Be ready to negotiate and don’t be afraid to walk away from a lender if the mortgage they offer doesn’t fit within your budget.

Already in the market for a mortgage? Here are some other great tips provided by the Federal Trade Commission.

Shop Around for the Right Builder, Too

You probably have an idea of where you want to live, so do some research to find out which homebuilders offer homes/communities in that area. Each builder is different, and their prices, offers and incentives will often vary greatly throughout the year.

Our online search tools make it easy for you to find all the builders in a given area — just enter your price range, options and desired location to get started!

Why Schools Should Play a Part In Your New Home Search

Posted: July 26, 2017 at 10:16 am by: NewHomesGuide

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Decisions about where to purchase a home are driven by numerous considerations such as your commute and preferred community amenities, but among parents with children under age 18, the school district is typically among the highest priorities. In fact, a recent study by Trulia found that for 19 percent of all homebuyers, their dream home would be located in a “great” school district. For parents of school-age children, that number jumped to 35 percent.*

Schools matter whether you have kids or not, because numerous studies have found that homes located in a good school district tend to sell for more money than those with less desirable schools. Homes in good school districts also tend to hold onto their value in every market cycle.

Some analysts say the schools-and-housing values phenomenon is similar to the chicken-or-the-egg question: are schools better because the homes are larger and more expensive and therefore owned by wealthier parents who have the resources to ensure their children get a high quality education? Or are the homes more expensive because the schools are so good?

According to a 2013 study by Redfin brokerage, people pay an average of $50 more per square foot for a home located in a top-ranked school district compared to an average-ranked school district. This debunks the idea that all the houses in that top-ranked district are bigger or sit on a larger lot, but it also proves something most people already know: schools matter. *

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What It’s Like to Live in Fairfax County

Posted: July 21, 2017 at 8:59 am by: NewHomesGuide

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Fairfax County is a diverse and thriving urban county. The population exceeds that of eight states and the District of Columbia. The median household income is one of the highest in the nation and over half of its adult residents have four-year college degrees or more educational attainment.

Fairfax County is celebrating its 275th birthday this year. The county was officially given its name in 1742, but the land in this county was under the control of Lord Fairfax and the Fairfax family of England as early as 1690. William Fairfax built the Belvoir Mansion, now part of the U.S. Army’s Fort Belvoir, in 1741. The county has an abundance of historic sites, including perhaps the most famous house in America: Mount Vernon, where George Washington first moved to live with his brother in 1748. The county was primarily agricultural until the early twentieth century, when the railroad and electric trolley lines connected the county to Alexandria and to Washington, D.C. The county underwent a growth spurt during World War II along with rest of the D.C. region and continues to be an employment center for government contractors and tech companies as well as a desirable suburb of the capitol.

Today, more than 1,139,000 people live in Fairfax County, which has a reputation for having one of the most highly educated populations in the country. More than 31 percent of adult residents of the county over age 25 have a bachelor’s degree and more than 29 percent have an advanced degree such as a master’s degree, a PhD, a law degree or a medical degree. That highly educated population is also highly compensated: Fairfax County is among the counties with the highest median household income in the country, estimated at $113,208 in 2016.

While many residents drive or take buses or Metrorail into Washington, D.C., 55 percent of Fairfax County residents work in the county in business locations such as Tysons Corner and Reston. Major employers in the county include Inova Health Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, Freddie Mac, General Dynamics, Capitol One, Hilton Worldwide, Northrop Grumman and SAIC, all of which have their headquarters in the county.

Fairfax County offers diverse neighborhoods and attractions from the Mosaic District in Merrifield, which has a mix of interesting shops and restaurants, to the Eden Center in Falls Church, which offers an array of Vietnamese shops and restaurants, to quaint historic towns like Herndon and Clifton. Reston is one of the country’s first planned communities and includes a range of housing, myriad recreational amenities and a vibrant town center with shops and restaurants and summer concerts. Some of the most expensive homes in the D.C. region can be found in McLean and Great Falls, both areas within a relatively short commuting distance to the city that are popular with politicians, lobbyists, broadcast journalists and lawyers.

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Tysons Corner Center is home to over 300 specialty and department stores, restaurants, eateries and entertainment options.

Tysons Corner, known mostly as a central commercial area for businesses and shops, is undergoing redevelopment into a walkable community for residents as well as employees in the area. A recent expansion of the Metrorail system’s Silver Line added stops in Tysons Corner and currently extends to Reston. Construction is underway to link the system to Dulles International Airport.

A wide range of homes can be found in Fairfax County, from condos and townhouses in urban-style walkable neighborhoods to single family homes of all sizes on small lots to acres of land. The median sales price of homes in April 2017 was $505,000, an increase of 5.4 percent over April 2016.

Fairfax County is known for its highly rated school system and its abundance of cultural and recreational facilities. The county owns 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land, eight public golf courses, multiple lakes and nine indoor recreation centers with numerous classes and activities. Sports leagues are available for children and adults and public tennis courts and skate parks are also readily available.

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Great Falls Park has many opportunities to explore history and nature, only 15 miles from the nation’s capital.

The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts features well-known performers all summer. The Barns at Wolf Trap and George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, as well as numerous community theaters throughout the county keep active performance schedules all year. Festivals are held on most spring and fall weekends in a variety of locations in the county and include performances, rides and art shows.

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Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center located on 117 acres of national park land in Fairfax County.

The abundance of activities in this county make living here attractive to people who work locally and those who commute into Washington, D.C.

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

The Latest Interior Design Trends Can Be Right at Your Fingertips

Posted: July 11, 2017 at 11:32 am by: NewHomesGuide

Interiors CoverFind inspiration for all of your new home’s spaces and create something distinct and beautiful.

That’s the idea behind our Interiors supplement, which is available with your complimentary copy of the July/August issue of New Homes Guide.

Unlike a resale home, which includes features and finishes that someone else chose, your new home is a blank slate and an ideal opportunity for you to use your imagination. And with just a little bit of inspiration, you’ll be well on your way to furnishing and decorating all the rooms and spaces in your home the way you’ve always wanted.

Flip through the pages of Interiors and see a collection of the area’s most beautifully decorated model homes and community clubhouses. You’ll get inspired by the professionally photographed spaces you’ll see, and you’ll even get a better idea of which homebuilders have an eye for style that matches your own.

If you’re ready to be inspired, reserving your free copy of Interiors is easy! Just place your order for the latest issue of New Homes Guide (also free!) and include the Interiors supplement in your order.

Design Encyclopedia: Know Your Home’s Windows

Posted: June 29, 2017 at 2:53 pm by: NewHomesGuide

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Photo Credit: Hoachlander Davis Photography

The commercial market, functional considerations, and aesthetic basis for your home’s windows can all be totally overwhelming. The countless number of choices available to buyers is a double-edged sword with unlimited capability to customize your selection, but a potential pitfall in making decisions relative to one another. To help you navigate this realm, we’ve compiled this guide to understand what’s what and what should matter to you in choosing windows for your home.

Anatomy

A brief vocabulary lesson is worthwhile to help orient you within the technical terms used in window production. Every window has four conventional parts: jamb, sill, head, and sash. Think of the former three terms as the edges, or frame, that hold the main part of the overall assembly (the sash) in place and provide the mechanisms for operating the window. Sashes can be further sub-divided into their own individual elements, including: stiles, rails, muntins (or mullions), and lites. These each describe the pieces of the assembly that hold and separate the glass.

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Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Operation

Windows are typically classified by how they open and close, each serving a specific function relative to their location and size. When you’re digesting the diagrams below, note that the dotted “arrow” over the window indicates the location of the hinge or direction it moves. Here’s a summary of the conventional types used in most homes:

Double-hung and single-hung

These are the most common models used in residential construction. They contain two individual sashes “hung” in the frame. The double and single labels refer to the number of sashes that are operable. For example, both sashes in a double-hung window can be slid up and down. For this reason, the screen is located on the outside face of the assembly to allow the sashes to move independently.

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Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

These are best suited for traditional styles of architecture. Their historical association and complexity of individual pieces in the assembly tend to exude a more formal appearance. Different patterns of muntins and lites also contribute to the character of the home. As a basic rule of convention – the more divisions there are in the glass, the more traditional the window will look. These patterns are often given a label relative to the number of lites/muntins they have. The window above can be called a “6 over 6” because there are six individual “cells” in each sash.

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Photo Credit: Allan Kennedy Photography

Casement

Casement windows have a single sash attached to the frame on side. They have a vertical hinge (or set of hinges) that allows the window to swing open just like a door. The screen is located on the inside face of the assembly to enable this movement.

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Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

These can employed to convey both a traditional and contemporary aesthetic on a home. The same rule regarding the muntin pattern on individual windows applies with these as well, but you will find that they tend to be grouped in multiples of two or three to create larger spans of uninterrupted glass. This treatment errs on the more contemporary end of the spectrum. The crank hardware will be a distinctive element of the window, so be sure to consider the style and finish relative to the look you desire.

Sliding

Sliding windows are the horizontal counterparts to double- and single-hung assemblies. With operable tracks on the head and sill, the sashes can move side-to-side within the frame. These are best suited for narrow height clearances such as basements and high-mounted locations like bathrooms.

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Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Awning and hopper

You can think of awning and hopper windows as the horizontal equivalents of casement windows. These also open in a single direction and have a hinge on the top or bottom of the frame. Awnings are top-hinged, making them an ideal application for rainy locations where you can block out falling water from above while still facilitating ventilation. Hoppers tend to be used most in contemporary applications as the bottom sash of a larger assembly – this allows fresh air from the outside to gently travel up and into the space.

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Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

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Photo Credit: Thomas H. Fields Photography

Fixed (inoperable)

Also called picture windows, these do not open or close and are used primarily to maximize the amount of light and view for a space. For this reason, they are typically manufactured in the largest dimensions of the conventional window types.

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Image Credit: W.C. Ralston Architects LLC

Performance

Windows serve the primary function of bringing light and air into a home. As penetrations in the shell of the building, they also make it susceptible to the unwelcomed gain and loss of heat. This affects both your level of comfort and the operational costs to maintain that comfort. For these reasons, it is worthwhile to understand how windows derive their efficiency.

There are two measures to consider when determining the energy performance of a window: thermal insulation and visual transmittance. As a rule of thumb, more panes (number of layers of glass) provide more insulation and more efficiency. The small gaps of air between panes allow for a tighter seal, keeping the heat where you want it relative to your specific climate and comfort preferences. The transmittance is a factor of how much heat is allowed to penetrate the glass due to the intensity of light shining through it. Modern coatings applied to or manufactured within the glass can provide the ideal balance between maximum brightness and minimum heat transfer.

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Photo Credit: TruPlace & Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Do you have questions about making the right window choice? If so, leave us a comment to get tips specific to your home!

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.

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!

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