How To Evaluate Schools Before Making Your Homebuying Decision

Posted: August 31, 2010 at 10:30 am by: Leslie

Whether or not you’re looking for a new home in hopes of finding a better school district doesn’t change the fact that schools can play a huge part in any homebuying decision. And 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 as well.

Before you go and spend those extra dollars purchasing a home in a highly rated school district, get to know your options first. Thankfully, there are several resources available to help home shoppers with or without children that will give some guidance along the way.

If schools aren’t really on the top of your new home priority list, there are a couple of websites that can help you get a general idea of a school’s reputation. Two that I’ve recently come across are GreatSchools.org and Education.com. You can search and compare school ratings, stats and much more. Even though school districts may not be important to you right now, it may be important later or to the family that moves in after you.

“School quality depends on many characteristics, not all easily measurable, and not all equally important for each individual child or family.” – Project Appleseed

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

Questions and Tips from NAESP for choosing a school:

  • Check out the school district’s annual report
  • What is the school’s discipline policy?
  • Check to see 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 home builders 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.

What You Should Look For During Your Final Walk-Through

Posted: August 24, 2010 at 10:00 am by: Leslie

Making the decision to purchase a new home can come with a lot of great perks. Higher energy efficiency standards, less maintenance and fewer repairs are all examples of some of the many benefits that go along with purchasing new. But even though you’ve decided to buy a new home, there is one last step before closing that you’ll need to take very seriously . . . the final walk-through.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) advises homebuyers to pay close attention during the pre-settlement walk-through. It’s your responsibility to make sure your expectations have been met and that the builder has taken care of any needed changes or repairs. Here is a simple checklist from the NAHB website to give you a better idea of what to look out for.

Grading

•Does the ground around the foundation slope away from the house?

•Make sure the water does not pond in swales. To check, water the areas with a hose, if possible.

•Are there signs of erosion?

•Is the shrubbery placed at least 2-3 feet from the foundation?

•If the house has a basement, are the basement window wells clean and graveled?

Roof and Gutters

•Are the shingles flat and tight?

•Is the flashing securely in place?

•Do the gutters, downspouts and splash blocks direct water away from the house?

Exterior Appearance

•Are the windows and doors sealed and protected by weather stripping?

•Are the trim and fittings tight? Are there any cracks?

•Does the paint cover the surface and trim smoothly?

•Has landscaping been installed according to the terms of your contract? (more…)

Demographic Shifts Expected to Affect the Future of Housing

Posted: August 17, 2010 at 10:28 am by: Leslie

We can almost certainly expect to see a growth and shift in the American population in the years to come, which leaves builders questioning what to build and where to build new homes in the future. Hanley Wood, parent company of Builder, recently held a conference in Washington, DC among scholars, economists, technology experts and demographers to discuss this very issue. Among the data gathered, some of the most interesting came from real estate advisory firm Robert Charles Lesser & Co. (RCLCO).

According to Charles Hewlett, RCLCO’s managing director and speaker at the Future of Housing Symposium, the American population will increase by another 100 million people by 2040, 60% of that jump within just 22 U.S. markets. Between now and 2025, RCLCO’s research suggests 85% of net household growth will consist of childless households. Some of the major groups leading the way towards changing the face of housing include Generation Y, Women, and Minorities.

If Generation Y, the group born between 1981 and 1999, begins purchasing their first homes within the next few years as expected, there will be more first-time home buyers in the market in 2013 to 2018 than ever before. RCLCO predicts by 2015 women, the majority of the workforce, will dominate the urban landscape preferring a walkable environment. And in the very near future, Hispanics will make up 40 percent of all first-time home buyers.

Hewlett ended his presentation with a few key points for builders:

Want to read the full RCLCO report from the Future of Housing Symposium? Click here.

Fannie Mae Launches New Website to Help Troubled Homeowners

Posted: August 10, 2010 at 10:30 am by: Leslie

For most it’s a nightmare, but for many it’s a reality, finding the perfect home only to be on the verge of losing it later. For those homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage, Fannie Mae has created KnowYourOptions.com where they can learn about options to help them get back on track and avoid foreclosure.

Recently launched, KnowYourOptions.com provides easy-to-understand information and advice in both English and Spanish for all borrowers, not just those with Fannie Mae loans. The website covers options to help you stay in your home and avoid foreclosure, as well as options when you can no longer stay in your home but want to avoid foreclosure.

●  The most important thing is to avoid foreclosure, don’t just walk away from your home.

If you know you need help but are unsure of where to start, the Options Finder is there to assist you. By simply answering a few questions, this feature will determine which options may be right for your situation. Fannie Mae also offers several other helpful resources such calculators, videos, checklists, advice on how to avoid scams and more.

 Scam artists are stealing millions of dollars from distressed homeowners by promising immediate relief from foreclosure.

If you are behind on your mortgage payments, or worried you may be soon, visit KnowYourOptions.com today and learn how you can get back on the right track.

Purchasing a New Home vs. Purchasing a Pre-Owned Home

Posted: August 3, 2010 at 10:00 am by: admin

Written by guest blogger, Cindy James New Homes Group | Century 21 New Millennium 

It’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make!  Do you buy a “new home,” or do you select a “pre-owned” home? There are many things you should consider before making your decision.  A used home is typically in an established neighborhood with mature trees, shopping centers, and can be close to schools.  It is often priced lower than a new construction home, and it may have the character or charm that you are looking to purchase.  Unlike an older home, a “new home” is built with the latest energy saving materials, the newest technologies and follows the current building codes. Your new home offers you a clean palette so that you may design your home just the way you want it. Here are some of the things to think about when purchasing a new home vs. purchasing a pre-owned home.

Advantages to consider when buying a new home:

  • Newest architectural designs provide floor plans for today’s life-styles.
  • Enhanced energy efficiency will make your home more comfortable in summer and winter while lowering your energy bills.  (The National Association of REALTORS® poll from June 2010 found that 70% of home buyers are looking for “green” built homes.)  
  • A customized home reflects your personal tastes and desires.
  • Extended builder’s warranty usually provides a 10 year structural warranty, 2 year manufacturer’s warranty on appliances, and a one year walk through with repairs done by the builder.
  • Builders’ incentives typically offer free or reduced price options and /or special financing programs.
  • Your choice: you select the location of a new home community, the builder, your home site, and a floor plan that best meets your housing needs.
  • It is the simplest way to get what you want because you start with a clean slate.
  • You can personalize landscaping for your life-style.
  • There are added amenities such as parks, walking trails, swimming pools, tennis courts, and golf courses that provide a great venue for socializing, exercise and more.
  • You get additional peace of mind from knowing that no one else has lived in your home before you and your family and there’s just something about moving into a brand new home! (more…)

Mistakes That Could Cost You At Closing

Posted: July 27, 2010 at 10:00 am by: Leslie

For most, the home buying process can be a stressful time, no matter how organized you think you are. Between finding the perfect home, getting financing, dealing with appraisals and inspections and finally closing on your new home, unexpected surprises are almost always inevitable.

After recent blows taken by the mortgage industry, lenders have been pressured to enforce stricter rules when in comes to providing loans to homebuyers. For example, Fannie Mae’s Loan Quality Initiative, which went into effect June 1, now requires lenders to track any changes to a borrower’s financial situation between applying and closing. No longer does pre-approval mean a borrower is definitely approved.

To avoid causing delays or changes to your mortgage closing, Bankrate.com has come up with a couple things borrowers should stay away from in the days or weeks before closing.

  • Getting a new credit card or auto loan
  • Charging up credit cards
  • Changing jobs

Because mortgage approval is based on a debt-to-income ratio, any changes affecting a borrower’s debt or income before closing could potentially harm a closing or even give a lender reason to turn down the borrower for a loan. To find more on why these mistakes could cost you your mortgage, visit Bankrate.com.

Homebuyer Remorse Down – Home Loan Knowledge Up

Posted: July 20, 2010 at 10:00 am by: Leslie

Results are in and it looks like homebuyers are more satisfied and more informed when it comes to their big ticket purchase. In a recent Bankrate.com study done by Princeton Survey Research, 90% of homeowners say they don’t regret purchasing their new home. Despite record number foreclosure and unemployment rates, only 9% of homebuyers say they have regrets about buying their current home. The biggest regrets were caused by not being able to sell their home and not being able to make the monthly mortgage payments.

•  Americans are more knowledgeable about their home loans than they were even two or three years ago.

The study took place from June 24 through June 27 of this year and polled 1,001 randomly selected adults. The poll also found that only 8% of homebuyers didn’t know whether or not they had a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage. This was a huge drop, in the right direction, from the 26% of borrowers who didn’t know their loan type just two years ago when Bankrate commissioned its previous study.

To find out more results from this study including what mortgages have become the most popular and who has the most regret when it comes to new homes purchases, visit Bankrate.com.

Military Home Shoppers Now Have More Reasons to Buy

Posted: July 13, 2010 at 10:10 am by: Leslie

If you’re in the military and still in the market for a new home, the incentives to make that purchase just keep piling up. For most of us, the time to sign a contract on a new home and receive the homebuyer tax-credit has come and gone. But for those qualified service members who have been ordered on a period of official extended duty still have almost another year to find that perfect home and cash in on up to an $8,000 tax credit.

And now Maryland has announced a its own homeownership incentives aimed at providing a much needed relief to Maryland’s housing market and protecting home values in BRAC-impacted areas. This new initiative, the Maryland Mortgage Program (MMP), includes $100 million put aside for mortgage loans to Maryland homebuyers in the 10 counties that will be most impacted by the U.S. Military’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), a historically low and competitive mortgage rate of 4.5%, and an assortment of down payment and closing cost assistance. Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Secretary Raymond A. Skinner explains, “The combination of lower rates and the $100 million BRAC set aside, as well as the associated down payment and closing cost assistance options available to borrowers, positions the Maryland Mortgage Program as a great option for BRAC families and all potential homebuyers in Maryland.”

•  BRAC is the single largest source of economic growth in Maryland since the end of World War II, and is expected to bring nearly 24,000 new households to Maryland by 2015.

For over 30 years, MMP has provided Maryland’s families with dependable and flexible mortgage loans and now its focus is on welcoming military families relocating to Maryland for BRAC. Visit the Maryland Mortgage Program website to learn more about these new homeownership incentives.

Interiors: The Best of 2010

Posted: July 6, 2010 at 9:00 am by: Leslie

We’re excited to let you know we’ve completed our 6th annual edition of New Homes Guide’s Interiors, featuring our area’s finest model homes and clubhouses. You’ll not only find this awesome addition to our magazine in every copy of New Homes Guide’s July/August issue, but it’s now available on our Interiors microsite for even more convenience.

Within its pages you’ll find hundreds of inspiring images of some of the coolest kitchens, bedrooms, family rooms, amenities and more, all available to you from our area’s best home builders. And if you’re impressed with what you see in Interiors, wait until you step foot in some of these models and clubhouses using our on-line My Road-Trip feature, it’s really amazing what builders are offering homebuyers these days.

Being able to take tours of these amazing interiors is just part of the fun you will experience while searching for a new home. We hope you enjoy this insider’s look into these great models and clubhouses, and be sure to let us know what impressive features you are hoping to find when searching for a new home.

Home Size in the U.S. on the Decline

Posted: June 22, 2010 at 9:30 am by: Leslie

According to recently released information from the Census Bureau, after three decades of continuous increase, the size of new single-family homes built in 2009 dropped to a nationwide average of 2,438 square feet.

NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe explains, “The decline is related to phenomena such as an increased share of first-time home buyers, a desire to keep energy costs down, smaller amounts of equity in existing homes to roll into the next home, tighter credit standards and less focus on the investment component of buying a home.”

 •  The average size of a new-single family homes last year was almost 100 square feet smaller than in 2007.

In addition to dropping in size, new single-family homes also had fewer bedrooms and bathrooms than in previous years. Between 2005 and 2009, the percentage of these homes with four bedrooms or more dropped from 39% to 34%, and those with three or more bathrooms declined from 28% in 2007 and 2008 to 24% last year.

If you are still in the market of for a new home, how will this shift in home size affect your next purchase? For more information on this and to see some regional differences between new single-family visit the NAHB website.

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