Celebrate New Homes Month

April marks a special one for The Horton Group: not only is it New Homes Month, but two more units at the Residences at 66 High Street recently went under contract, which means there is just one unit left!

This month, we’re taking the time to reflect on the work we do, and share the benefits of new construction!

Rise in Popularity

New construction continues to rise in popularity among home buyers. In fact, 60% of buyers say they prefer new homes, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders. This is the highest level since 2007.

This year, buyers are turning to new construction even more. With low inventory and multiple offer situations across the nation, buyers are finding it more challenging to find a property that fits their needs. 

Benefits for Buyers

As people have spent more time at home over the past year, many want a home that satisfies their wants and needs. With new construction, buyers can select their preferred floor plan and finish design touches. 

The NAHB survey found that buyers want more bedrooms and bathrooms compared to previous years, noting that an increase in square footage is essential for many. Buyers also want features including a laundry room, energy-efficient features, outdoor living, and walk-in pantries.  

As builders enter the final stages of construction, buyers enjoy selecting finishes, fixtures, flooring, and paint colors. When they move in, there is nothing to change or update because they fulfill their needs from the start. 

Benefits for the Economy

New homes benefit both the homeowner and the economy. The construction of 1,000 single-family homes creates 2,900 full-time jobs across all US industries. Not only does this open up more job opportunities, but also brings in more to federal, state, and local tax revenues. 

Are you interested in seeing new homes in Connecticut? Join us for HBRA’s 2021 Spring Parade of Homes, taking place April 24 and 25!

Most and Least Desirable Home Features

Every year, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) conducts a survey to determine what features home buyers look for in a home. 

This year, priorities have shifted as people began to look for more space while adapting to remote working and learning. 

Keep reading for more insights from NAHB’s 2021 What Home Buyers Really Want report. 

Most Essential Home Features

According to the survey, in which 3,000 recent home shoppers and buyers participated in, there is a growing demand for more square footage. As people look to expand their living spaces, here are the features they consider most essential:

Home Feature% Who Consider it Essential
Laundry Room87%
Exterior Lighting87%
Ceiling Fan83%
Energy Star rated windows83%
Patio82%
Double Kitchen Sink (side-by-side)81%
Walk-in Pantry81%
Front Porch81%
Energy Star rated appliances81%
Hardwood Flooring81%
Full Bath on the Main Level80%
Energy-efficient lighting80%

The survey didn’t stop with overall features. Below are top features, broken down by room.

Top Kitchen Features

  1. Double sink (side-by-side)
  2. Walk-in pantry
  3. Table space for eating
  4. Central island
  5. Water filtration

Top Outdoor Features

  1. Exterior lighting
  2. Patio
  3. Front porch
  4. Rear porch
  5. Deck

Top Accessibility Features

  1. Full bath on the main level
  2. Doorways at least 3 feet wide
  3. Hallways at least 4 feet wide
  4. Non-slip floor surfaces
  5. An entrance without steps

Top Technology Features

  1. Programmable thermostat
  2. Security cameras
  3. Video doorbell
  4. Wireless home security system
  5. Multi-zone HVAC system

Least Essential Home Features

In addition to noting what’s most important, buyers also provided input on what they consider turn-offs in a home. Here are the least desirable features in a home or complex:

Home Feature% Who Consider it Least Desirable
Elevator56%
Glass Walls54%
Daycare Center in the Development50%
Wine Cellar48%
Pet Washing Station47%
Roof partially or completely covered by plants46%
Golf Course46%
In-law suite42%
Cork flooring (on the main level)41%
Dual toilets in primary bath40%

What features are a must-have in your next home? 

A Look Inside the Whitfield Penthouse

Every unit at the Residences at 66 High Street is special. Designers worked with the owners to complete the Whitfield Penthouse, ensuring that every detail fits their vision. 

Scroll through the slideshow to see the expectational craftsmanship in this unit!

  • Whitfield Penthouse

Are you interested in learning more about the Residences at 66 High Street?

Buyers’ Search for Energy Efficiency

Over the past year, buyers have been searching for properties with more indoor and outdoor living space, private home offices, and plenty of storage. 

In addition to more space, a recent report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that buyers are also looking for energy efficiency when looking at new homes.

Top Energy Efficient Features for Buyers

The report surveyed 3,000 homebuyers and was presented during NAHB’s 2021 International Builders’ Show. As buyers search for homes, they are keeping an eye out for eco-friendly design and green features. 

The top three energy-efficient features buyers look for are:

  1. Energy Star rated windows and appliances.
  2. Efficient lighting that uses less energy than traditional light bulbs.
  3. Energy Star rating for the whole house.

Willing to Pay

Since energy-efficient features often result in lower utility costs, buyers consider this when buying a new home. If green features will save homeowners money toward utility bills every month, buyers surveyed said they are willing to spend more money upfront.

On average, buyers said they would pay over $9,000 more upfront for a home if it would lower annual utility costs by $1,000. Buyers are also willing to spend more than $2,000 upfront for a home certified above-code for health and wellness, which includes features such as zone heating and indoor air quality. 

Homeowner Education

It’s not enough to just start installing green features into new homes. Homeowners must also know and understand how the features work. Part of regular home maintenance is ensuring that the green features are serviced and properly working. In addition, homeowners need to know how to use green features to their full potential to gain all the benefits. 

Brandon Bryan, the founder of Red Tree Builders, stated,

“We’ve got to teach people how to live in green homes, how these homes operate, and even before we build to let them know what we could do because a lot of times we could do so much more for their life.” 

What green features are important to have in your home? 

What is Adaptive Reuse?

Adaptive reuse is the process of reusing an old building or site for a new purpose. While this can include the historic preservation of a site, it can also include taking an existing structure and transform it into something new. 

The Horton Group’s Adaptive Reuse Projects

Two of Horton Group’s developments include adaptive reuse: The Residences at 66 High Street and Overland Lofts Springfield. 

The Residences at 66 High Street

At 66 High Street, the historic Mill Building was previously a factory that made everything from torpedoes to lollipops. Now, the building houses luxury condominium units, keeping intact many original features. 

Overland Lofts

The historic Willys-Overland Building in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts once included an automotive showroom, sales facility, and 1,000-car garage for the motor company that became Jeep. Now, the 76,000 square-foot building has transformed into Overland Lofts, which includes residential apartments and retail space. 

Why Adaptive Reuse?

Adaptive reuse can be an excellent alternative to new construction, especially in established locations. Here are some benefits to adaptive reuse:

  • Maintains Historic Sites. Adaptive reuse is a form of preservation for historic sites. Builders work with the town or historic district to preserve the buildings’ significance while utilizing the space for a community need.
  • Lower Construction Costs. When compared to new construction, adaptive reuse often has lower construction costs, due to fewer materials needed, as well as local and federal historical tax credits. 
  • Speeds up Construction. New construction may require clearing the property and starting with a foundation. Adaptive reuse projects are often completed in less time, especially when the majority of the work is cosmetic and not structural. 
  • Unbeatable Architecture. When preserving a historic building, builders often incorporate architectural elements that cannot be replicated in new construction. This may include exposed beams or original flooring, adding character to the final design. 

Adaptive reuse projects and developments always inspire the Horton Group. What are some of your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Connecticut Named Top State to Raise a Family and Retire

With changing seasons, plenty of outdoor activities, and proximity to the largest cities in the Northeast, Connecticut appeals to many. The residents of this state aren’t the only ones who recognize the benefits of living here –  Connecticut was recently named as a top state in two surveys by MoneyRates.com.

As one of the 10 Best States to Raise a Family 2021 and Best States to Retire 2021, Connecticut has appealing qualities for all ages. Keep reading to learn more!

Best States to Raise a Family 2021

Families across the country reassessed their living situation last year as the pandemic hit. Many people moved away from cities and into suburban areas, but parents want to know there is more than a big backyard when considering where to raise children. 

Here are the nine factors that MoneyRates.com took into consideration when determining the top states to raise a family:

  1. Academic performance
  2. Availability of youth/student checking accounts
  3. Overall affordability
  4. College affordability
  5. Crime safety
  6. Access to daycare
  7. Child health
  8. Kid-friendly neighborhood amenities
  9. Broadband availability

Overall, Connecticut ranked as the Number 4 state to raise a family.

While Connecticut is not the most affordable state on the list (ranked 43 overall and 45 for college affordability), it does fall in the top ten for academic performance (9), access to youth checking accounts (10), safety (3), and daycare availability (5). 

In the remaining areas, Connecticut was ranked in the top 20 for child health (15), neighborhood amenities (14), and broadband connectivity (12). 

Best States to Retire 2021

Connecticut isn’t just an excellent place for raising children; it is also a top state for retirement. For this study, MoneyRates.com focused on four major categories:

  1. Economic factors, including the cost of living, property tax burdens, and unemployment rates. 
  2. Crime and safety factors, including violent and property crime rates.
  3. Lifestyle factors, including the proportion of older residents and average temperatures.
  4. Healthcare conditions, including nursing facility capacity, cost of health care, and life expectancy. 

For the best states to retire, Connecticut ranked Number 7 overall. 

Once again, affordability is Connecticut’s biggest hurdle, ranking 45 for economy. However, this state offers plenty to aging residents, coming in top spots for crime/safety (4), lifestyle (19), and healthcare (3). 

What do you love about living in Connecticut? Let us know in the comments!

Guide to Building a New Home

With low inventory in real estate markets across the country, many people are considering new construction. Although the process can seem overwhelming from start to finish, working with the right people and knowing what to expect can make the entire process less daunting. 

Keep reading for what you need to know about the home building process before getting started. 

Secure Your Financing First

Most homebuyers use financing when purchasing a home, and the same goes for new construction. If you were previously searching for an existing home and are approved for a mortgage, that won’t carry over to new construction. 

Speak with your lender about obtaining a new construction loan. Like mortgage loans, new construction loans are easier to get if you have a strong credit history. This loan will enable you to pay your contractor as the work is being finished. Once the home is completed, the loan is converted to a mortgage. 

Who You Work with Matters

Once you know you have appropriate financing for new construction, look for a builder who meets your needs. Research and meet with prospective builders to learn more about their style, quality of work, and rates. 

Take the time to learn about the builder’s developments, warranties, reputation, and communication style. You will also want to learn how the builder handles permits and hiring for specific jobs. A builder who understands your vision and communicates throughout every step of the process will ease stress and give you confidence in completing your new home. 

Plan, Plan, Plan

After getting approved for a loan and selecting a contractor, the planning begins! With your builder, you can start to focus on planning your dream home. You’ll discuss the larger picture, including:

  • Style of the home
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Floorplan
  • Storage needs
  • Outdoor space

As you review the type of home you want, your contractor will share a projected timeline and completion date. In addition to planning what your new home will look like, be sure to plan where you will live during construction, as well as a backup plan in case the completion date needs an extension.

Purchase Your Lot

Some new construction takes place in a new development, where the builder owns several lots.  In this case, during your planning phase you will select an available lot where your new home will be constructed. If you are not building in an established development, you will need to start looking for land for sale in your desired location. Once you have acquired land, your contractor will clear the lot before construction begins. 

You Get to Choose

The final stages of construction are often the most fun. As you oversee the building process, you’ll discuss what you want to see in the design’s finishing touches. This includes selecting: 

  • Cabinetry
  • Countertops
  • Paint color
  • Light fixtures
  • Appliances
  • Flooring
  • Custom options

Throughout the entire process, stay in communication with your builder to stay updated on the timeline, build, and budget. 

Kitchens at 66 High Street

From the historic Mill Building to brand new Whitfield and Leete Buildings, every kitchen at the Residences at 66 High Street is customized to meet the needs of the owners. 

As the social hub of the home, today’s kitchen is a place that is on display in an open floor plan. To accommodate for both function and style, we’ve worked with incredible interior designers to achieve the goals of each resident. 

Scroll through to take a look at some of the 66 High Street kitchens, and perhaps get some inspiration for your own!

What is your favorite kitchen? Let us know in the comments!

When do you need a Building Permit?

We know many people are taking on home improvements this year, and with good reason! Updating your home to improve function and design makes it more comfortable and can increase the property value. 

Before you get started on your projects, it’s essential to follow protocol and safety regulations. Depending on the project, this may include obtaining a building permit. 

What is a Building Permit?

A building permit records any changes you make to your property with your town. When you apply for a building permit, it also ensures that the remodeling project will be reviewed by an inspector and deemed safe for current and future residents. 

In addition to keeping your home improvements up to current safety standards, building permits are also proof that you complied with all building codes. Should you decide to sell your home in the future, it’s essential to have this documentation. 

When is a Permit Needed?

Home improvement projects that include structural, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work generally require a building permit. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Structural Work: Changes to the structure of your property, including changes to load-bearing walls, foundation, roofing, decks, and balconies, require a permit. Your contractor will typically obtain the permit prior to construction.
  • Electrical Work: Simple jobs like installing a new light fixture does not require a permit, but changes to outlets, wiring, or overhead lighting does. 
  • Plumbing: Whether you install new plumbing or replace existing plumbing, a permit will most likely be required.
  • Heating and Mechanical: Any changes made to heating or ventilation requires a permit. This includes work on fireplaces and ducts. 
  • Window Installations: Any time you have to cut holes for window installations, whether installing a new window or replacing an old window with a larger version, you will need a permit. 
  • Additions and Remodels: Any new construction, including an addition or remodel, requires a permit. This includes detached garages and sheds. 

If you are unsure whether or not you need a permit, make sure you talk with a professional. Generally, your builder or contractor will obtain any permits required, so you don’t have to worry about completing the paperwork. 

8 Simple Tips for a Greener Home

When you incorporate green practices at home, you use less electricity and water. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, you’ll reduce your monthly bills, saving you money every month. 

Not all sustainable choices are difficult to implement or impossible to keep up with. In fact, there are many simple ways to go green in your own home, starting today. 

Keep reading for 8 simple ways to make your home more sustainable. 

Unplug

One of the easiest ways to save energy is to unplug devices when they are not being used. When you keep appliances plugged in, they continue to suck up electricity even when they are not powered on. Get in the habit of unplugging toasters, heaters, coffee makers, and fans when not in use. You can also use a smart power strip in your home office or entertainment center. These power strips cut power off and save energy when devices are in standby mode. 

Program Your Thermostat

A programmable thermostat allows you to monitor your heating and cooling systems. This allows you to easily use less energy when you are at work or traveling, and keeps your preferred temperature while you are home.

The Nest Thermostat takes programming to the next level. This ENERGY STAR thermostat learns what temperature you like and builds a schedule for you. It also provides maintenance reminders and HVAC system alerts to keep your system in the best condition. 

Stock Your Freezer

A full freezer works more efficiently than one that is nearly empty. The freezer works harder, and uses more energy, when cooling down air that comes in every time you open the door. If fully stocked, less air is able to enter, which helps to keep the temperature down while saving energy. 

Seal Your Home

Gaps around windows and doors let hot outside air into the house in the summer, and heat escape in the winter. This makes your HVAC system work harder, wasting energy on heating and cooling. Every year, check for gaps throughout your home. When needed, seal the gaps, and use weather stripping around windows and doors to keep inside air in and outside air out. 

Switch to LED Lighting

LED lightbulbs consume about 80% less energy and last up to 20 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. As light bulbs burn out, make sure you replace them with LED lightbulbs for both interior and exterior lights. 

Fix Leaks

Small toilet or faucet leaks often end up on the to-do list, only to be tended to months later. Even small leaks (like a constant dripping) can waste up to 90 gallons of water per day, according to epa.gov. If you notice a leak, call a plumber to assess how it started, and make sure to fix the issue right away. 

Upgrade Your Insulation

Older homes often lack sufficient insulation. A properly installed home and attic help to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This means your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard. 

Purchase Efficient Appliances

When you are replacing appliances, purchase energy-efficient models. You can find ENERGY STAR dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, ovens, and refrigerators. This label verifies that the appliance is energy efficient. In the bathroom, opt for low-flow showerheads and toilets to save water. 

Which of these green tips have you already implemented? Let us know in the comments!

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