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Buying a New Home? These are the Terms and Definitions You Need to Know.

Posted: December 11, 2017 at 1:30 pm by: NewHomesGuide

Homebuyer's Glossary

Getting ready to purchase a new home?

There’s a lot that goes into the process. Fortunately, you don’t need to get overwhelmed when you start hearing words like “escrow,” “elevation” or “earnest money.” Here are some of the most important and common terms you’ll come across during your new home search and throughout the homebuying process.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) – A mortgage loan whose interest rate adjusts according to a market index. This means as the interest rate goes up or down, so does your mortgage payment.

Amortization – A term used to describe the process of paying off a loan over a predetermined period of time at a specific interest rate. The amortization of a loan includes payment of interest and a portion of the outstanding principal balance during each payment cycle.

Appraisal – The amount a professional appraiser determines your home and its property to be worth.

Bridge Loan - A short-term loan collateralized by the buyer’s present home (which is usually for sale) that allows the proceeds to be used for closing on a new house before the present home is sold. Also known as “swing loan.”

Condominium – One unit in a complex of many. When you purchase a condominium, you solely own what is inside your walls and you jointly own the hallways, exterior and common areas. You also pay a monthly fee for the management of these areas.

Closing Costs – The cost required to officially change the ownership of the property. Buyers and sellers have different costs they are responsible for at closing.

Closing – Also called settlement. The signing of documents and payment of funds to legally transfer house and its property from the buyer to the seller.

Credit Rating/Score – The score that tells a borrower how much of a credit risk you will be.

Credit Report – A report detailing a borrowers credit history. A few items shown are the amount of the borrower’s debt, their timelines of making payments and their credit rating.

Deed – The document that legally transfers the title of a property to the purchaser.

Default – Violation of a mortgage contract.

Density – The number of homes that a local jurisdiction allows to be built on a certain acre of land.

Earnest Money – A “good-faith” deposit submitted with a purchase offer to show that the potential home buyer is serious about buying the house.

Elevation – The exterior of a specific model. A floor plan may have multiple elevations for you to choose from, each with varying architectural styles, building materials and exterior treatments.

Equity – What your home is valued at after the balance of what you owe is subtracted.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage – A mortgage that has an interest rate that stays the same for the life of the loan. This means your monthly payment will remain constant.

Good-Faith Estimate – An estimate, given to the borrower by their lender, to show what settlement costs they will be responsible for and how much they will be.

Hazard Insurance – Insurance against damage to your home from vandalism, fire and other hazards. You are required to carry insurance equal to the value of your home.

Home Inspection – A professional inspection of a home to review the condition of the property. The inspection should include an evaluation of the plumbing, heating and cooling systems, roof, wiring, foundation and pest infestation.

Homeowner’s Association – An association that manages the care of common areas of a community. The home owner pays a monthly or quarterly fee to this association for maintenance costs.

Homeowner’s Insurance – Insurance that covers personal liability and hazards for a home and the contents inside of it.

HUD-1 – A final listing of the costs of the mortgage transaction. It provides the sales price, and down payment, as well as the total settlement costs required from the buyer and seller.

Interest – The amount you pay to the lender for borrowing money. A portion of this becomes part of your monthly mortgage payment.

Lien – The claim against the property that has to be paid off when you sell a property.

Lifetime Payment Cap – The highest or lowest a payment on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage can reach for the life of a loan.

Lock-in Period – The amount of time the lender agrees to lock in an interest rate for the purchaser prior to settlement.

Mortgage Insurance – Insurance needed for mortgages with low down payments (usually less than 20% of the price of the home).

Note – A document that states a debt exists and the repayment terms.

Options – Items you can choose to add on to your new home. Options add to the price of the house, but allow you to personalize your home (e.g., tile floors, fireplace, etc.).

PITI – Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance. The four main parts of your monthly mortgage payment.

Planned Community – A community where several builders offer a variety of home styles in many price ranges. There are usually amenities in the community such as recreational facilities and shopping.

Points – A charge by the lender to increase the interest yield on a loan. Each point is 1% of the loan amount.

Prepayment – When you pay part or all of your loan before it’s matured.

Principal – The amount you borrow for your loan. This amount does not include interest.

Punch – List A builder’s list of changes or corrections to be made on a buyer’s home.

Real Estate Broker – A Realtor who has earned a brokers license can employ real estate agents, as well as represent buyers and sellers.

Title – The certificate or deed that proves a person legally owns the property.

Title Insurance - Insurance that protects the lender or the buyer against any loss that comes out of disputes over who owns a property.

Title Search – When title records are searched to make sure the seller is the legal owner of the property. It also checks whether there are any outstanding claims or liens.

Walk-Through - A buyer’s final inspection of the home before settlement to look for any problems that need to be fixed by the seller.

10 Reasons to Buy a New Home Instead of an Existing Home

Posted: December 5, 2017 at 11:22 am by: NewHomesGuide

10 Reasons to Buy New

You’ve made the decision to buy a home. Now, the question you’re probably asking yourself is, “Do I buy a new home or resale home?”

Here’s a list of considerations to make when deciding to buy a new construction home.

1. Personal Taste

A new home reflects your personal tastes, your dream home, your way. You choose everything — the floorplan, cabinets, tile, lighting and all the little details.

2. Low Maintenance

New homes often require less maintenance, less upkeep and less frustration because everything is new — appliances, roof, windows and HVAC.

3. Floorplans

You choose the floorplan, room layout and home style that works for the way you live today and in years to come.

4. Energy Efficiency

New homes today are built to much higher energy-efficiency standards which result in enormous cost savings.

5. Warranty

New homes come with comprehensive builder warranty programs that cover everything from construction materials to your roof and appliances.

6. Built to Last

New homes are built to today’s stricter building codes, giving your home a longer life expectancy.

7. State-of-the-Art Technology

New homes are pre-wired for today’s high-tech lifestyle with state-of-the-art technology to accommodate the way you live, work and play.

8. Location

You pick the location, the community, the homesite, the builder. It’s all about you.

9. Amenities

Enjoy new amenities like parks, walking trails, swimming pools, tennis, shopping and even new schools right in your community.

10. Nothing Beats Brand New

Have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has ever lived in your home before you and your family.

When it comes down to it, you want to create your own dream home with your own vision, personal taste and a home style that suits you best. A home with impeccable quality, comfort and efficiency. That’s what makes for a carefree lifestyle.

Ready to find the new home of your dreams? Get your search started on our website right now.

Design Trends from the DC Design House

Posted: November 14, 2017 at 2:56 pm by: NewHomesGuide


Photography by Angie Seckinger

When you purchase a newly built home, you have the joy and the challenge of transforming blank walls into a place that reflects your personality and the way you like to live. While you may want to replicate some of the finishes and décor choices you’ve seen in model homes and magazines or work with a professional at your builder’s design center, another resource is the DC Design House or similar events. An annual fundraiser for Children’s National Health System, this year’s Design House transformed a 27,000-square-foot Potomac, Maryland mansion into a showcase for 23 designers.

While each interior designer faced their own challenges working with a limited budget and the inability to change certain features, each placed their own stamp on their assigned space. Yet even with the variety of styles on display some themes emerged that can help you define your new rooms.

8 trends from the DC Design House

Don’t ignore your ceiling.

The Design House features rooms with dramatic light fixtures, high-gloss robin’s egg blue paint, ceilings that look like an abstract of the night sky and one, by designer Josh Hildreth, was painted to resemble light-stained wood. In a gallery with a double-barrel ceiling, designer Cindy Grossmueller McClure placed subtly sparkly wallpaper on the ceiling and lined the seams of the ceiling with nail studs for an edgy look. The large master bedroom, designed by Denise Guadeloupe Rojas, became a more intimate space with a darker gray ceiling. Changing the color of your ceiling can dramatically impact the feeling of space and light in the room.


Wallpaper is in again.

Wallpaper in neutrals and bright colors and textures can be used in every room in the house and in unexpected places such as the back of a bookcase to add color to shelves. Technology has improved wallpaper so you can now buy removable wallpaper that peels off without damaging the walls and allows you more freedom to change it on a whim.

Bright colors can be used more often than you think.

While neutral grey and white and beige are found everywhere, the most exciting room included mint, jade and black walls with orange and red fabric designed by Caryn Cramer that surprisingly worked well together. Royal blue velvet chairs made a dramatic statement in a study by designer Lorna Gross and was used for accent pieces in the library designed by Kelley Proxmire.


Creativity makes a home your own.

While not everyone has a flair for DIY crafts, one of the most eye-catching rooms in the house included a wall of framed colorful Hermes scarves. Designer Marika Meyer purchased them on eBay and placed them in inexpensive frames. Another room, by designer Romain Baty, featured hand-painted “columns” which were really just black paint on white walls to mimic columns. Baty also painted every other egg in the egg-and-dart molding black for a distinctive and yet easy-to-achieve pattern.

Decide on a mood for a room and decorate to create it.

Most designers choose a theme or a mood or an imaginary person and make every design choice in that context. For example, Kiera St. Claire-Bowery’s bedroom with layers of fur and velvet and rugs is a “modern professional’s retreat” that’s both polished and tranquil. The designer even gave her imaginary client the name “Sloane.” In Gross’ study, the room was lightened with a touch of metallic paint and features a few whimsical items to give a serious room a more playful vibe.


Convert a small space into a “retreat.”

Several small rooms and even closet-like spaces in the Design House were transformed with lighting and color into a space to relax. Now that so many homes have open floor plans where family members spend most of their time, it’s essential to have a reading nook or a quiet upstairs space to be alone.

Turn books into art.

Multiple designers stacked books on tables and in corners to add color and set the theme for a room. One even added a few books to a bar shelf to elevate a cut-glass carafe. Another designer painted old books in complementary shades of blue for a colorful library.

Design a functional and pretty laundry room.

Laundry rooms top the list of essential features buyers require, but at the Design House Paula Grace designed a laundry room that includes open shelving with baskets for each family member’s laundry, space for supplies, an elegant light fixture, a ceiling painted blue to mimic the sky and a speaker for music to liven up laundry day. While Grace didn’t need to add the appliances to the space, she was happy to discover a cool “drying cabinet” to use for hanging delicate clothes in addition to the traditional washer and dryer.


Incorporating the things you love into your new house can transform the space into a place that welcomes you home every day.

Let’s Move: Your Essential Moving Checklist

Posted: October 20, 2017 at 11:55 am by: NewHomesGuide


Congratulations! You’re shopping for your new home, the really fun part of this next stage in your life. Soon you will be packing up your cherished belongings and moving everything you own to a new home. Here are some tips on using a moving company to help in your move.


Check out some reputable sources, such as WTOP and The Washington Post, to identify some local moving companies and larger national companies. Yelp will also have reviews on who you might select. Make appointments with 2 or 3 of them to have estimates done at your current residence.

The time and effort put into this early on will come back to you in a better moving experience. Review your estimates, read the fine print and make your choice. Remember, this is only an estimate and there can be some details which will cause that number to go up.


One instance where an estimate might not match your final bill can be extra weight. Your quote is based on the weight of the shipment. If the movers pick up your belongings and they weigh more than quoted, a re-weigh can be issued. This could cause your charges to increase. Special items such as pianos, pool tables and extra-large furniture will also add some cost to your move.


Inform your movers about stairs at the new home. There may be a charge per staircase/flight of stairs. This could be $100 or less per level. It’s best to be upfront about this detail.


If you are having the movers pack and crate your belongings, they will add that into your estimate from the start. If you are packing yourself, be sure that you have done so by your scheduled move date. Not being prepared for moving day could throw everyone’s plan off track. If there are items which are not packed or crated and the moving company has to do it for you, there will be extra charges for that.

Many movers use a color code system to organize box labels for quick identification during the move. While packing, never pack important documents such as passports, ID cards, blank checks and settlement papers into boxes or crates. Keep these near you or clearly marked, and hand-carry yourself.


Also be upfront about explaining your new home’s entrance accessibility. Are you located on a busy street? Is your new driveway unusually long? Will there be a problem parking a large moving van? All these details could result in additional charges.

A few other ideas for a successful move include making a list of all the services you currently use at your home such as babysitters, cleaning help, gardeners and other regularly scheduled assistance. Make a list and contact all of them promptly. It’s also a great idea to pack a quick need bag for you and your family which would include toothbrushes and paste, prescriptions, eye care items and pet supplies. Lastly, it might be useful to gather a bag of items, to keep the kids busy on both ends, such as books, markers and paper or small toys.

Want more homebuying and moving tips? Be sure to check out the resources section our website!

Choosing the Right Window Coverings

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Breaking Down the Exterior Evolution of New Homes

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


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.


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.


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


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


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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