Financial checklist for new home buyers

Buying a home is the American dream, and the goal of many people who are ready to put down some roots. In some circumstances, buying a home can also be a great investment. For first time homeowners, however, the process alone can be quite intimidating. If you’re not prepared financially, it can also be a significant drain on your resources.


The following tips can help first time homeowners prepare for the financial aspects of home ownership so that the entire experience is more rewarding, and less stressful.


Reduce your debt

Debt can derail your financial stability, especially when you’re considering a mortgage. When possible, try to reduce your debt so that you’re juggling fewer bills. This can potentially also improve your credit score and make financing your home a bit easier.


Create a budget


Budgeting is always helpful, but it’s critical when it comes to buying a home. You’ll need to know how much of a mortgage you qualify for before you really start shopping around. An easy way to do this is to get pre-approved for a mortgage and use that as your home buying budget. Keep in mind, it’s okay to set your home budget lower than your pre approved amount. 


Have a savings

The home buying process is costly and being a homeowner comes with additional expenses you don’t have as a renter. For this reason, it is important to have savings that are not used for the purchase of your home. This is a buffer that you can use for emergencies should life throw you a curveball.

Educate yourself

The home buying process has many steps and can be a bit overwhelming. For those that are new to the process, it can also be intimidating and stressful. You can reduce your stress, and empower your decision making, by learning about the home buying process. There are plenty of sources available online, like this guide to home buying from Investopedia.


Consider your options

You can shop for homes already on the market, but that isn’t your only option. You can have a home built for you too. This gives you the ability to more closely match your home with your needs, including lot location, floor plans and other options. 


Remember, buying a home is more of a marathon than a sprint. Be patient as you work through the process and try to enjoy the adventure. This will help reduce the frustration that can come with trying to work through all the steps it takes to go from day dreaming about a home to getting the keys and moving in!


Looking for inspiration? Visit our gallery!

Spring Home Trends

Spring Home Trends

There’s no doubt about it, trends are just as big in the world of homes and home décor as they are in fashion. While home trends tend to stick around a few years at a time, they definitely shift every three to five years. All you have to do is see a fifties style kitchen or an entryway from a classic 70’s home to see home trends in action.


Architectural trends are a bit harder to follow, but when it comes to home décor most people enjoy switching things up with the season. Spring is especially popular because it’s the first chance after the long, cold winter to invite some color and life back into your home.


Here are some of the newest trends for 2021 that you may want to try in your own home.


Rustic modern: Sure, it seems like these are opposite, but when you combine them in your home you’ll achieve a distinctive look. Sometimes called “modern cottage” this look features farmhouse style interiors with bare wood, reclaimed wood pieces and modern touches. You can make this look your own, by mixing and matching old and new elements, like reclaimed end tables and modern table lamps.

Contemporary country: You don’t want to resurrect the cow prints just yet, but you can easily achieve this look with country-style decorations lightly mixed into a modern space. This could be the addition of meadow prints, embroidered pieces and calm lighting to soften up a contemporary room. If you already have a more rustic, country space, simply add contemporary elements, like a modern centerpiece, painting or furniture accent piece.

Bright and muted pastels: Spring home décor is not complete with a conversation on pastels. Few things say spring as much as pastels, and that isn’t a trend that will go away anytime soon. This year, however, mixing bright and muted pastels throughout the home is popular. This could include throw pillows and blankets, area rugs, candles, and wall art that showcases this color palette.

Global themes: Infusing living spaces with globally inspired looks is a fun trend this spring. From using color themes and centerpieces inspired by nature from around the globe to cultural décor items, global themes can reflect your personal travel stories or dream trips you want to one day take.

Surf and turf: Sure, the beach is always in, but right now bringing a bit of the ocean to your home is in. From cool ocean hues to decorations inspired by a day at the beach, people are getting creative with their living spaces this spring. There really is no wrong way to do it, from ocean blue accent pieces and shell centerpieces to sea breeze incense.

What spring home décor trends do you plan on following this year? We’d love to hear all about it on social, so feel free to share tips and pics!

Simple & Budget Friendly Holiday Decorating Tips For New Homeowners

From creating memories and new traditions to the simple joy of decorating your home for the season, home ownership can feel extra special during the holidays. For new homeowners, this is especially true, but it might also come with a few extra stressors due to the initial cost of getting into a home. Fortunately, you can decorate for the season on a budget with a little thought and planning. 


The following tips can help new homeowners enjoy their first Christmas with simple, budget friendly and versatile decorating ideas. 


Adopt a new color scheme

You don’t have to buy a lot of Christmas decorations to have a holiday-themed home. By incorporating the colors of the season into your general decor, you can create a strong holiday aesthetic. Green and red throw pillows, winter-themed wreaths and centerpieces all give off holiday vibes without being overtly Christmas themed. And while poinsettias, holly and the Christmas cactus are traditional house plants for this time of year, you don’t have to switch out your current plants for the holidays. You can simply tie red and green ribbons around your house plants, or use holiday-colored foil to wrap their pots. 


Embrace mood lighting

Lighting can be a powerful tool for creating atmosphere in your home. It can also be an affordable way to change up the look and feel of your home for the holidays. From green and red Christmas lights, to twinkling white lights that you can use any time of the year, lighting is a quick and easy decorating option. Since you can use some colors year around, it can also be a versatile way to decorate multiple occasions. You can keep your utility costs in control by using lighting only after dark. 


Candle accents

Everyone loves candles, so it makes sense to play them up during the holiday season. It’s more budget friendly to opt for seasonal scents over seasonal colors so that you can display your candles for a longer period of time. You can also use battery powered candles around the home. These are completely safe options that allow you to light up areas where a real candle might be not optimal. Many of these twinkle and create a very warm, life-like glow. 


Use gifts as decorations

You’re used to gifts piling up under your tree, but why not let your gifts do double duty this year as decorations! By using beautiful wrapping paper and ribbons, you can create display worthy presents that make your entire home feel more holiday-like. Place them in small groups around your home, perhaps with a small figurine or other more traditional decoration. This is a budget friendly way of transforming your home for the holidays. 


There you have it, simple and affordable ways to make your first Christmas even more special in your new home. You can also find some visual inspiration if you’re looking for some extra holiday-themed decorating ideas.


And if you’re dreaming of your very own custom home in the upcoming year, we have some additional inspiration for in our gallery!

Easy Winter Maintenance Tips For New Homeowners

If you’re a new home owner, or just dream of home ownership, you might be surprised at the seasonal work that comes with the territory. From tending the lawn all summer, to protecting your pipes against the cold, there are many things you should know about caring for your own home. Many people learn as they go, fixing problems that pop up due to harsh weather, precipitation and changing temperatures. This might leave you with costly repairs that could have been prevented with a little up front maintenance.

The following tips are easy to do, even if you’re not handy, but can help prevent damage, reduce utility bills and make life as a homeowner a lot more enjoyable!


Seal cracks and gaps around windows

Make your windows more airtight for the winter by sealing cracks and gaps. You can get weather kits at most home improvement and hardware stores to get you started. These often include detailed instructions to make installation even easier. This Old House offers some tips in this video if you’re looking for additional guidance.


Stop door drafts 

Doors can let in a lot of cold air during the winter even when they’re closed if they don’t seal properly, leading to high heating bills and a less cozy home. You can install door draft stoppers on every entry door to stop drafts in their tracks. These are easy to install, you simply peel the backing off and stick the material to the bottom edge of your door. A quick visit to your local hardware or home improvement store will get you started.


Winterize outdoor faucets

Freezing temperatures can be brutal on your pipes, especially outdoor faucets. Save yourself future inconvenience, and repair bills, by draining and insulating your outdoor faucets. The most simple way to do this is to purchase a kit designed to cover and seal outdoor spigots. These are inexpensive and come with easy to follow instructions.


Clean the gutters and downspouts

Gutters and downspouts protect your home from accumulating moisture, ushering water away from your roof and your foundation. If they are clogged with debris, or otherwise not functional, they can’t do their job. Cleaning these before the storms come will help protect your home. Simply removing debris by hand works, but you can also use a hose to flush them out. Here are some additional tips if you’re new to gutter maintenance.


HVAC upkeep

Your HVAC system works just about all year long, but sometimes people forget that filters need changed in the winter too! Not only will this help improve your indoor air quality, it’s equally important for airflow during the heating season as it is in the summer. Help yourself stay on track by putting a “change filter” reminder on your family’s calendar.


Last but not least, protect your pipes from freezing during cold snaps by keeping cabinet doors open to sinks that share external walls. You can also insulate pipes in unheated areas of your home and  let cold water drip from sinks to prevent freezing. All it takes is a small drip during the coldest hours to help save your pipes.

Tips on selecting the right floor plan

Other than curb appeal, a home’s floor plan is one of the top features that homeowners consider when looking at homes, and for good reason! It doesn’t matter if you’re buying or building, your future’s home layout will play a big role in your comfort. With so many options available, how can you find the right floor plan for you? 


It can be difficult to weigh the pros and cons of floor plans, but the following tips can help you zone in on what’s most important to you and your family. 


Consider your lifestyle

One way to compare floor plans is to think about your overall lifestyle. This allows you to more closely match how you use a home with available features and different layouts. For instance, if you love entertaining and having family get-togethers, you may want a formal dining room and a great kitchen. Or maybe it’s more important that you have spacious walk-in closets and storage than natural lighting and sunset views. All of these things should play into your decision. Just remember, you want to think about today and several years down the road as well.  


Consider your family plans

Houses are long term purchases, so it makes sense to include your long-term plans into your decision. Are you thinking of growing your family in the near future? If so, you’ll want room to grow, and maybe extra space for a playroom or nursery. If your family is going to be leaving the nest in a couple years, you may want less space and more room to entertain. Do you plan on retiring in the home? If that’s a possibility, you’ll want to consider how you’ll be able to utilize your home as you age. All of these decisions are important when looking at possible floor plans. 


Consider your “must have” features

Another way to compare floor plans is to consider your top features and weigh them against your options. To do this, make a list of things you can’t live without and a list of things that would be nice, if possible. Do this before you look at any options to keep from being influenced by the visuals of any potential home. After you have a solid list, then you can start looking at contenders. This allows you to really hone in on what’s important to you!


Vaulted ceilings or not? Enclosed deck for morning coffee or panoramic views of the rising sun? Upgraded kitchen with formal dining or a rumpus room? There are so many options when you look at a new home that it can be overwhelming. And since home ownership is such a large commitment, every little decision can seem more difficult. By using these tips, you can sharpen your list of wants and be confident in whatever decisions you make. 


Ready to look at floor plans? We have some great options to get your imagination going!

Are you ready for home ownership?

Owning a home is the American dream, but it can be hard to know if you’re in the best position to go from renter to owner.  Not only is home ownership a big responsibility, there are many factors to consider before you buy or build a home. If you’re completely new to home ownership, it can be even harder to know what questions to ask, and things to consider, before investing in a home of your own.  

If you’re considering buying or building a home, the following list can help you decide if you’re ready to take the leap. 


Are you really ready to settle down?

A house is a big financial commitment, but it also represents a commitment to staying in one location. You should ask yourself if your family is ready to commit to an area for a minimum of five years. This is typically considered the minimum number of years you need to live in a home to make it financially viable. You should consider your work commute, the quality of schools in the area and the availability of conveniences your family uses for entertainment and recreation. 

Family decisions

You’ll want to make sure that the house fits your needs today and can accommodate any changes you anticipate for the future. If you plan on growing your family, you’ll want to make sure your new home has room. If your kids are older, you may need less room as they move out.  Additionally, the decision to buy or build a home impacts every member of the family, so you need to consider everyone’s needs. For instance, families with children are going to be more interested in quality school districts and the availability of kid-friendly activities is important. 


Steady income

There’s no doubt about it, houses are one of the largest financial investments you can make. While they can definitely be a great investment over the long-term, you need to be financially stable first. So not only do you need a savings account to fall back on, you’ll want to have a stable job. Of course, there is no way of knowing what the future may hold, but there are signs to consider. If you’ve had your position for a few years and are with a stable company, you’re in a decent position. If you’ve switched jobs recently, or your company has been bought out or shows signs of instability, you may want to increase your savings before buying.


Owning a home is an incredible and rewarding experience, giving you a stable place to create memories that will last a lifetime. But buying or building a home is also a big responsibility, so it’s important that you set yourself up for success. By knowing your family’s needs, considering the future and being financially prepared you can make sure that you have the resources you need to move past the obstacles. 

If you’re ready to take the next steps, or want to window shop for the future, we have a gallery of homes online.