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!

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. 

Should You Upsize or Downsize?

In the years leading up to 2020, people moved away from sprawling estates and mega-mansions, opting to downsize and move to areas with walkable downtowns. 

This year, there’s been another shift, as people are spending more time at home and are looking for more square footage and outdoor space. People are reevaluating how they spend their time and what’s important to them, including where they live. 

Keep reading for some tips for finding the right size home for your needs. 

Evaluate Your Current Living Situation

We’ve all spent more time in our homes this year. Pay attention to where you spend the most time, and what areas are seldomly used. Could you repurpose a dining room, for instance, if you only use it a few times a year? Reimagining rooms may offer up additional space for the things you want to do at home.

Know Your Financial Situation

Before any type of move, you need to factor in your financial situation. If you are considering a larger home with a bigger yard, know that your property taxes will likely increase. Determine your maximum monthly budget and meet with your mortgage lender to help you figure out how much home you can afford. 

Signs it’s Time to Upsize

Many people are dreaming of more space this year, but you should take time to think about if the extra space is needed or the result of cabin fever. Signs it’s time to upsize include:

  • An expanding family and not enough rooms.
  • Not enough space for everyone to gather for meals.
  • You require a dedicated home office. 
  • You have budgeted in a larger monthly payment. 
  • You want to move out of the city and into a suburban or rural area. 

Signs it’s Time to Downsize

Other people find themselves with too much space. Here are some ways to know it’s time to downsize:

  • You cannot keep up with the maintenance of your home and property.
  • Many rooms in your home are seldom used. 
  • Children or family members have moved out.
  • Your monthly payments are stressing your current budget. 

Determining the right-sized home is a personal choice, as everyone has different needs and priorities. What are you looking for in a new home? Let us know in the comments!

Home Maintenance Checklist

Whether you move into a newly constructed home or one previously lived in, home maintenance is must. By staying on top of upkeep, your home will not only look and run more efficiently, but it will also help keep your resale value high.

Each year, plan on saving 1-3% of your home’s value for regular home maintenance. By sticking to a schedule, you protect your biggest investment while maintaining a comfortable living situation. 

Here are monthly and seasonal checklists to help you to keep your home in top shape. 

Monthly

Check the interior and exterior of your home every month. With a quick walkthrough, you can check off these items and help eliminate surprises down the road:

  • Clean HVAC filters and change furnace filters.
  • Clean faucet aerators.
  • Inspect drains and look for leaks.
  • Inspect grout and caulking.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Clear indoor and outdoor air vents (including the kitchen vent hood).
  • Check water softener (if applicable).

Fall

When the temperatures are still moderate, get in as much yard clean up as you can, and prepare the home for winter:

  • Schedule another HVAC checkup.  You don’t want to realize there’s an issue after temperatures drop!
  • Inspect and clean the fireplace.
  • Clean gutters (after the leaves fall!).
  • Check the roof for missing shingles.
  • Check weatherstripping on doors and windows.  
  • Winterize exterior plumbing. 
  • Patch and seal driveway.

Winter

During the colder months of winter, pay attention to these interior needs: 

  • Touch up interior paint (as needed).
  • Clean grout in kitchens and bathrooms. 
  • Clean sink, tub, shower, and dishwasher drains.
  • Check the basement for leaks. 
  • Watch the roof for ice dams.
  • Check for drafts.

Spring 

As the weather begins to warm up, many people are eager for some fresh air and spring cleaning. In addition to a deep clean and yard cleanup, make sure you complete these tasks:

  • HVAC checkup by a professional. 
  • Inspect the roof, siding, and outdoor living spaces.  
  • Clean gutters.
  • Inspect driveway and walkways. 
  • Check for air leaks around doors and windows. 
  • Look for rotting wood or insect damage.

Summer

Complete these tasks early in the season so you can fully enjoy your summer:

  • Oil garage door and chain, and all door hinges.
  • Trim plants and hedges near the HVAC system.
  • Power wash exterior of the house.
  • Inspect foundation and crawlspace. 
  • Check sprinklers or lawn irrigation system. 
  • Check the damper in the fireplace.

Home Design that’s Trendy and Timeless

A new home comes with endless possibilities – including the overall design. The best part about new construction is you have a blank slate to create the home of your dreams. While recent home design trends can be fun to incorporate, they don’t always last long.

No matter your preferred style, you can customize your home, so it is both trendy and timeless. Keep reading to learn how!

Start with Function

When meeting with your builder, decide on an overall layout that meets your needs. An open floor plan often allows for flexible living spaces that can be modified to fit your changing lifestyle. In addition, a bedroom option on the main level creates the opportunity for one-level living, should you or a loved one need it. Review the pros and cons of floor plans with your builder to determine what works best for you. By starting with a practical floor plan, you’ll be able to enjoy the space for years to come. 

Go Classic with Big Items

Big construction items are generally harder to change out, and therefore more expensive. If you want a design you’ll love for years, select classic options for exterior finishes, flooring, countertops, and cabinets. Selecting quality materials for finishes ensures these items will last in terms of function and design. While they may be more expensive upfront, high-quality finishes are both luxurious and timeless.

Sprinkle in Trends

If there is a trend you love, incorporate it in a way that can easily be altered. Paint color can easily be changed, as well as furniture and decor. Light fixtures and hardware can have a drastic effect on the overall style of a room. These small ticket items can easily be upgraded should you get sick of them in a few years. 

We’d love to know – do you prefer a classic look or love to switch it up with the latest trends?

Builder Confidence Increased in July 2020

News about low inventory and historic low mortgage rates has been garnering a lot of attention in the housing market. While real estate agents have been noticing a recovery in the market for the past couple of months, the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) is also showing an increase in builder confidence. 

 

July 2020 Builder Confidence

 

In July, builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes jumped to 72 points, up from 58 points in June. This is a significant increase from April, when builder confidence plummeted to a low of 30 points, the lowest level since 2012.

 

The HMI is a monthly survey that has been conducted for 30 years. It gathers information about builder perceptions and buyer traffic for single-family homes. Anything above 50 points indicates a positive outlook for the market, and below 50 indicates a negative outlook. 

 

The Appeal of New Construction

 

Buyers are actively searching for homes. With low inventory and the desire for a floorplan to meet needs created by the pandemic (like home offices and outdoor living spaces), builders are seeing more interest from prospective buyers. 

 

“Builders are seeing strong traffic and lots of interest in new construction as existing home inventory remains lean,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke.  “Moreover, builders in the Northeast and the Midwest are benefiting from demand that was sidelined during lockdowns in the spring. Low interest rates are also fueling demand, and we expect housing to lead an overall economic recovery.”

 

Low mortgage rates aren’t just for existing homes, they extend to new construction. If you are a prospective buyer who isn’t haven’t luck with current inventory, consider building new or looking at new developments.

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