If you’re like most Americans, you probably spend a good amount of time hours at home in or around the kitchen preparing and enjoying meals. With the increased popularity of open floorplans where the kitchen and living areas are one expansive space, kitchen design and aesthetics have increasingly become a factor in the home planning formula. Check out some key kitchen design tips below to consider during construction of your new home.
According to a survey of 7,812 homeowners conducted by remodeling website Houzz and published by Realtor® Magazine, open concept kitchens, natural stone countertops, and neutral color schemes remain the most popular design selections. To ensure that Beazer homebuyers are thoughtfully approaching the design of their new kitchens, here are some tips to maximize long-term satisfaction with your kitchen:
Consider your family’s schedule and dinning preferences: Do you host large functions or prefer smaller, more intimate meals? If you’re always hosting large groups, then you may want to opt for a larger living/ dining combination space that won’t have anyone feeling isolated. Also, if you and your family members have very different schedules a separate space can reduce noise and light disturbances to others early in the morning or late at night.
Select surfaces for your needs: While the allure of an all white kitchen and shiny chrome faucets may appeal to your senses, those selections might not be as practical for a family with small children or pets. Look for finishes that will perform for your lifestyle. Beazer Homes offers a trained team of design professionals within each of our new home design centers to help you select options and offer kitchen design tips that meet your specific tastes, needs, and budget.
Examine your work and storage areas: Think through how you like to cook. Do you require a lot of prep space or do you prepare your families meals in bulk? Make sure you’re planning for enough counter and cabinet space to accommodate the size, and types of meals, you’re accustomed to preparing.
Check back to the Flexibility and Personalization category of the Beazer Blog often to learn more about the latest design and floor plan options for your new home. You can also connect with Beazer Homes on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest design ideas.
It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us again, as is the end of 2013. As we gather this week with our friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving, we hope you’ll accept our sincere thanks for being a part of the Beazer family. Because of the individuals and families that entrust us with building their dream homes, we’re able to continue doing what we love most – building the most energy efficient homes, offering more choices in personalization and more choices when it comes to finding a lender.
Thank you for choosing Beazer Homes. We hope that you are surrounded by the people and things that make you happiest this holiday.
If you’re looking for a way you can express what you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving, share your holiday photos or favorite traditions on our Facebook fan page as part of our Beazer Food for Thoughts campaign. For every photo or tradition shared on our wall Beazer Homes will donate five meals to feed an underserved child through the Oxfam America organization.
It’s hard to believe, but the Holiday season is upon us again. This year, Beazer Homes has teamed up with Oxfam America for our Food for Thoughts Campaign. Our goal is to donate 10,000 meals to less fortunate American schoolchildren. You can help us reach our goal by sharing your favorite Holiday traditions from November 21st through December 20th on our Beazer Homes’ Facebook fan page wall.
Write us a quick note explaining how you celebrate the season; share your favorite Holiday photos; or (if you’re really creative) a movie of your family singing their favorite carols. For every tradition shared, Beazer Homes will donate a week’s worth of nutritious lunches to an underserved child through Oxfam America.
A company steeped in family tradition with nearly a century of history, Beazer Homes understands the importance of perpetuating those customs that make this time of year so special for you and your loved ones. We strive to work with every customer to build the perfect home for their individual lifestyle. We are grateful to serve a variety of homeowners in new construction communities across the nation. We hope to use this campaign to help feed hungry children, and also get to better know the residents of our communities.
If you’re looking for ideas to help make new Holiday traditions with your family in your Beazer Home, make sure to follow the posts by searching the hashtag #BeazerGives on Facebook. Share this campaign with your social networks to help get the word out about this worthy cause.
To learn more about the Oxfam America organization and their mission of providing solutions for poverty, hunger and social and injustice visit Oxfamamerica.org.
Our Home Sweet Home Sales Event is going on right now. As home prices continue to rise, we thought there was no better time to get buyers into a new home.
- More Savings – ENERGY STAR® certified new homes save homeowners on energy costs year round. We’ve had numerous homeowners send us their energy bill amazed at how low it was.
Take a look at this homeowner’s bill for a nearly 4,000 sq ft home in the Houston area.
2. More Mortgage Choices – Our Mortgage Choices program encourages buyers to shop around for their home loan with our preferred lenders. Compare them to find the very best rates, fees, and service, so you feel confident in what may be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make.
3. More Choices in Floorplans and Personalization – We offer a wide variety of flexible floorplans that will work for your family. Wish you could have your closets in the master bath, or want your kitchen to be better set up for entertaining? We’ve got those options too, and on certain plans they don’t cost anything extra.
Our Design Studio offers options to reflect your personal sense of style. We believe your home should match the way you want to live.
Come out during our Home Sweet Home sales event, ending September 15, and see how to Get More out of a new Beazer home.
We think one of the best parts of buying a new home is personalizing it to make it your own. From furniture to fixtures, your home is a reflection of your personal style. But what if you don’t what your “personal style” is? The Internet is stuffed with blogs and websites to help motivate your home décor choices. We’re helping you narrow down the search by listing our five favorite home design sites for inspiration.
Remember those cork memory boards you used to pin recipes, photographs, and magazine clippings? Think of Pinterest as a virtual pinboard for collecting and organizing the things you love online. With a dedicated category to home design the supply of ideas is virtually (pun intended) endless.
Why we love Pinterest – Users share photos from the depths of the interwebs, providing you with tons of options in style, color, and decor. Since it’s photo based, you don’t have to spend time trying to remember the name of a website. Just pin the image you like to one of your pin boards and you’ll have it ready when you are to decorate.
Of course, don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest!
Lesser known Houzz is similar to Pinterest in that you can create ideabooks of photos you find. However, Houzz is solely about homes. No sifting through mounds of shoes, food, and random photography that your fellow pinners recently placed on their boards.
Instead, with Houzz, you browse by the room. The images are tagged, so you can see what the product is and its price tag. You can even find local professionals to help you with your design qualms.
Why we love Houzz – Not only is the site chocked full of beautiful imagery, but they have an amazing enewsletter that comes straight to your inbox with the best of the site. Each week they include several features that cover various trends or design topics aimed at helping you get inspired.
Better Homes and Gardens
The classic and well known publication has a multitude home decorating tips, DIY projects, and home improvement ideas on its website. The “Decorating & Home Ideas” section is broken up by home improvement, room, and even a section to help you determine what color to use.
Why we love BHG – They give ideas for every room in your home. And when we say every room, we mean it. There is an entire section dedicated to decorating small spaces such as walk-in closets and laundry rooms. The best part: many of the design ideas are for the budget conscious decorator.
The Inspired Room
A decorating blog, The Inspired Room, has the creator, Melissa, sharing her own trials in decorating. She also supplies countless tips on how to clean, organize, and design on a budget. She showcases her own home and provides a section for inspiration – that word we keep coming back to.
Why we love The Inspired Room – This blog is especially great if you’re DIY or time challenged. Her videos and DIY tutorials can help anyone find ideas or figure out how to do something in a crunch.
A popular go-to magazine and website for decorating and home design, House Beautiful will help you get excited about decorating. Get designer tips, look through the photo gallery, or play the “pick-a-room” game to get started.
Why we love House Beautiful – Our favorite part of this site is the New Technology and Gadgets section. If you’re looking to make your “iThing” or smart gadget more user friendly while you’re around the house, House Beautiful has great suggestions. We’re particularly fond of this iPad mount for kitchen or bathroom cabinets.
What home design sites do you love? Tell us in the comments below.
Contract forms. Loan applications. Mortgage paperwork.
Before you close on a new home, you’ll have to navigate through a sea of real estate documents. Let us help you understand a few of them. Make sure not to skim these documents, but read them in their entirety. You’ll feel more secure and smart about the big purchase you’re about to make.
Checking your credit report is step one. Before you begin looking for a new home, your credit report is the first document you should both read and understand thoroughly. Even if you pay all of your bills on time and don’t have any outstanding debt, it’s still necessary to pull your credit report to make sure there are no errors. In an age of identity theft, it is always best to check these and make sure something hasn’t mistakenly been applied to your financial history.
A credit report includes information about timeliness of bill pay, previous addresses, and any current debt or open credit.
There are four main parts of a credit report:
- Personal Information – This section includes your name, previous addresses, social security number, and past employers.
- Credit History – This section contains credit and loan information, such as credit card, car, and student loan debt. It also includes your payment activity.
- Inquiries –This is a list of the people who have asked to see your credit report.
- Public Records –This section includes information on bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens and judgments.
The Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) is standard for all loan applicants. Most lenders will fill this out for you, but it is up to the borrower (you) to ensure that all the information contained in it is 100 percent accurate.
Accurate completion of the URLA will lead to a smoother and faster loan approval process. Before you sign the application, review it thoroughly to make sure it is complete and truthful. Double check current and previous addresses for accuracy, as well as the length of time you’ve lived at those previous locations. All dates of employment need to be exact, not approximate. Correct bank account information and account numbers are also crucial. Above all else, review the declarations in Section 8 in their entirety to make sure it contains factual information.
Good Faith Estimate
Within three business days of receiving the loan application, the lender must provide a Good Faith Estimate (GFE). A GFE is a written estimate of all expected closing fees and lender charges. The estimate must include an itemized list of fees, taxes and costs associated with the loan. Fees and taxes included in a GFE fall into 6 basic categories.
- Loan Fees
- Advance Fees
- Title Charges
- Government Charges
- Additional Charges
Be sure to compare these sections while shopping around for a home loan. The structure of lender quotes varies, but all lenders must use the standard GFE form. Some fees, such as underwriting and processing fees, are under the lender’s control; when comparing lenders use these as a negotiation tool to help select the lender who will get your business.
Truth-in-Lending Disclosure Statement
The Truth-in-Lending (TIL) form explains the total cost of a mortgage. By law, lenders are required to provide loan applicants with information on the loan amount, the finance charges, the loan payment schedule, and the loan’s annual percentage rate (APR). APR includes the interest rate, discount points, and any additional charges.
Education is the first step to feeling confident and secure when financing a home. To help, Freddie Mac has a guide to understanding mortgage documents, or read this list of banking terms on our blog. After that start preparing for what to expect on closing day!
House hunters considering buying a newly built home are probably already familiar with the myth of the “cookie cutter house”: all the homes look exactly alike.
Buying a newly built home doesn’t automatically mean sacrificing personal style. In fact, it can mean quite the opposite. Here are a few more newly built home myths we’d like to debunk:
1) MYTH: Newly built homes lack personalized details
TRUTH: Homebuyers can personalize the interior and exterior of their new homes. New homebuyers choose the floorplan that closest fits their families’ needs, and then they can choose structural options to further personalize the layout. They also visit a design studio to pick out features and finishes including cabinets, flooring, and appliances.
Depending on location, the buyer may select from a variety of exterior finishes that includes stacked stone, brick, vinyl siding, or stucco. They’ll also choose the paint color as needed.
2) MYTH: New homes don’t have as much space as older homes
TRUTH: Each community is comprised of a number of flexible floor plans that allow you to plan where you want the most space. Choose from plans and layouts that have features such as an open kitchen or an extra sitting space in the master bedroom.
Builders today are responding to buyer’s preferences when it comes to creating floorplans that feature more open spaces. More space isn’t just limited to bigger rooms and living spaces. Newly built homes typically have higher ceilings, bigger bathrooms, and three times the closet space of resale homes.
3) MYTH: Newly built homes are more expensive than resale homes
TRUTH: Fewer repairs, less maintenance, energy efficient building practices, and no need to renovate all factor in to making new homes more affordable.
New homes are just that – new. That means you’re moving into a home without any wear and tear. You are the first person to own it and know its’ entire history. New homes have less maintenance to keep up with, and are engineered to minimize maintenance requirements.
You’ll also need to consider operating costs after move-in. A newly built home typically is significantly less expensive to operate than a resale. The energy efficient building practices and low-maintenance make owning a new home much more affordable than you would think.
When considering a resale, think about how much you’ll have to spend to make it fit your needs. Renovations, repairs, and redecorating are big expenses, and homebuyers may end up with a laundry list of extra costs.
With new homes you also get a warranty. It will vary depending on the builder, but generally there is a 10 year limited warranty on the home. That should help cover anything major that may go wrong.
Newly built homes don’t have to fall into the “cookie cutter” myth. Explore new communities and find out how much personalization is possible on the home whether structural or design related, and the cost to make those changes. If comparing to resale, you’ll also want to find out average energy bill costs, and factor in any additional repairs you’ll need to make to the existing home. You’ll soon realize that your new home is like no other. Find a community to visit here.
Choosing the right mortgage lender is a huge piece of the home buying process. When you find a mortgage lender that is right for you, you’re more likely to get the best rates, great service, and low fees all of which save you money.
To find out which lenders have better options for your financial needs, start by comparing them. We have a list of a few key things to compare when trying to find the right lender.
Lenders will provide a quote containing several line items such as loan interest rates, fees, and points or credits the lender is willing to provide. All of the numbers in these sections have significant impact on both the total and monthly amount of money to be paid for the home. Remember, all quotes don’t look the same. Line items may be on different sections of the quote sheet, so be sure to read all documents thoroughly to find the different line items on each sheet. Here’s a breakdown of each line item:
- Interest rate: Start here. In most cases, lenders will have similar rates, but they could vary by 1/8th of a point or more.
- Fees: This is the amount that the lender is charging you to take out your loan. This is an additional charge on top of any interest or mortgage insurance premiums that may already be rolled into your loan. Common names for these lender fees include underwriting fee, processing fee, or document preparation fee. Fees are typically the biggest monetary differentiation between lenders, but they are also negotiable. Play close attention to what each lender is charging in the fees section of the quote, and discuss the ability to lower these costs.
- Points: Points come in two varieties: origination fees and discount points. In both cases, each point is equal to 1% of the total amount mortgaged. For example, on a $100,000 home, one point is equal to $1,000. Not all mortgage providers require the payment of origination fees, and those that do are often willing to negotiate the fee. Origination fees are not tax deductible. Discount points are a form of prepaid interest. The purchase of each point generally lowers the interest rate on your mortgage by 0.25%. Most lenders provide the opportunity to purchase anywhere from zero to three discount points.
Finding the right lender isn’t just about the financials – it’s also about personal preference. Cheaper is not always better when it comes to comparing lenders. A competitive price is highly important, but making sure the lender is attentive and helpful is another huge piece of the puzzle. This is especially true if this is your first home. You will be sharing all of your personal financial information with this person, and relying on them to have everything ready to go when the new home is complete, so it’s important to find the person that makes you feel comfortable. Start by asking the lender about the service they will be providing. Here are a few questions to keep in mind:
- Will you meet with me personally to complete my loan application and review loan paperwork, or is this process handled strictly through phone and email?
- Will you be at my closing?
- How often will you contact me with updates?
- What hours of the day and what days of the week are you available to take calls and questions?
- Will you help me find the loan product that is just right for me, based on my current financial needs?
Finding the right lender will help you feel more confident during the home buying process. Choosing a compatible lender will help make your loan process run smoothly, saving you a lot of money and hassle.
Nick Peacock, Beazer’s Vice President of Lender Choices, answers your questions about shopping for a mortgage.
In this edition of “Ask Nick”, Nick answers questions about getting a mortgage after a short sale. He also answers his very first question submitted via Twitter. The firm Bradbury & Partners wanted to know what advantages the current mortgage market has for first time homebuyers.
Q: David: Who are the best lenders to work with if you’re trying to buy a new mortgage after short sale?
A: Most lenders will have the exact same guidelines with respect to short sales. Different loan types (FHA, Conventional, VA) have different “seasoning” requirements for short sales. Seasoning refers to how long you are required to wait before qualifying to get a mortgage after a short sale. The circumstances of the short sale are also a factor that will be considered. Any reputable lender will be able to answer your questions and advise you on your options based on your personal circumstances.
Q: Monica: What kind of interest rate can I expect if I’m trying to get a loan after a short sale? Would the lender require a minimum down payment?
A: The interest rate is not adjusted due to a previous short sale. Your credit score can impact the interest rate because it takes the short sale into account, particularly on a conventional loan. The down payment for a new home is determined by the type of loan program you select. Once you have met the minimum waiting period after your short sale, you should be eligible for an FHA loan with a 3.5% down payment, or a conventional loan requiring between 3-5% down. Talk to a lender to get more information based on your exact circumstances.
Q: Bradbury and Partners: Do you, as a homebuilder, see the current mortgage market as an advantage for first-time homebuyers?
A: Despite a recent uptick in interest rates, and a fairly healthy increase in home prices over the past 12 months, many markets still offer excellent affordability for first time buyers. From a mortgage perspective, the first time buyer still has access to loan programs that allow for small down payments (3% on conventional loans, 3.5% on FHA loans, and no money down for VA or USDA loans) and carry interest rates below 5%.
From a historical perspective, buyers in the current housing market have an excellent opportunity to purchase a home. It is true that mortgage guidelines have tightened, and not everyone can get a loan. However, the reality is that people who have reasonably good credit, adequate income to cover the house payment and their other monthly obligations, and access to 3-5% for a down payment can probably get approved for a mortgage.
Common sense has returned to mortgage lending, placing the focus on making sure that borrowers get a mortgage that is appropriate for them- one that they can afford both when they buy a home and in the future. It’s all about looking out for the borrower’s financial well being.
So, all in all, I would say yes- the mortgage market today does present advantages for the first time buyer: loan programs with small down payments, historically low interest rates and underwriting standards that help ensure long term financial success.
We’re always taking your questions! You can email them to us at AskNick@beazer.com. Nick answers every question, so you’ll be sure to get a personal response. Every week, we’ll post some of the “Ask Nick” questions and answers on our blog, Facebook, and Google Plus. Don’t forget to follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #AskNick.
* Beazer Homes is not acting as a mortgage broker or lender. Home buyers should consult with a mortgage broker or lender of their choice regarding mortgage loans and mortgage loan qualification. ©2013 Beazer Homes
Your down payment isn’t the only money you’ll need to pay the day of closing. You’ll also need to plan for the costs associated with borrowing the money, government taxes, and other fees you may not be aware of. It’s important to understand these additional fees so you know precisely what you are paying for when you buy your new home.
What are closing costs on a home? True to their name, homebuyers pay closing costs when the time comes to close on a home. A lot of these fees are related to the processing of your loan application, title preparation, and legal documents. They tend to vary between two and five percent of a home’s sale price. Just because you pay closing costs during the last part of the homebuying process, doesn’t mean the amount should come as a surprise.
Here is a run-down of the costs you should expect to pay at closing:
Unlike other closing costs, pre-paid expenses are related to the ongoing costs of home ownership, which includes interest on your loan, insurance, and taxes. Because of the timing on when these items are paid each year, your lender will require that you pre-pay a certain amount.
These expenses include:
- Pro-rated interest charges from the date of closing through the end of the month
- If applicable: mortgage insurance premium (MIP) and/or two to three months of monthly mortgage insurance if you haven’t put down 20% of the home’s value.
- Homeowner’s insurance (amount will vary based on quotes and amount of months required by lender.)
Lender fees include a fee for running your credit report, as well as fees for underwriting and closing your transaction. You should already have a general idea of the amount of money you owe in lender fees when the time comes to close on your new home. By law, lenders are required to give you a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) of what their closing costs will be on your home. You should receive the GFE within three business days of when you apply for a loan, far before your closing date. When you get your GFE, take note of the fees. Some fees, such as underwriting and processing fees, are under the lender’s control and are negotiable.
Discount points may be paid to obtain a lower interest rate, and each point equals 1% of your loan amount. One point typically lowers your interest rate by .25%. You and your lender would agree on the payment of points at the time you lock in your interest rate.
Title Related Fees and Charges
Title search fees cover the cost of a background check on the title to ensure that there are no unpaid property taxes or other liens on the property. Other title charges include title insurance which will protect you in the event there is a dispute over the title or property in the future.
Government Recording Charges and Taxes
Government recording charges are paid to the state and local government agencies for recording important documents, such as your home’s deed and mortgage. Many states also impose taxes on the deed, note or mortgage.
Title related fees and government recording charges are not controlled by the lender and are therefore non-negotiable. Remember, a GFE is only an estimate of what you should expect to pay.
One to three days before closing, your lender should also give you a HUD-1 settlement statement. This document outlines your final closing costs. You should compare the GFE that you received from your lender to your HUD-1 document and take note of any differences.
This is a basic summary of closing costs, which can vary depending on location and property. Help yourself become more familiar with the homebuying process by reading up on these banking terms.