Planning For Your Move Part 3 (Packing and Sorting)

Moving 101

Planning For Your Move, Part 3

Packing and sorting are important aspects of planning for your move. This article will help you prioritize items so you know what to keep with you, what to pack, and what items you might want to consider getting rid of.

Maybe you don’t have an “ugly chicken conversation piece” like Sue, but you get the idea. While you’re packing is the perfect time to do a good spring cleaning. When you pick up something decide which of the following groups your item belongs in:

  • Must Haves: Things you will need in the next few days/weeks. Some of these items will need to travel with you instead of with the movers so keep them handy. See Planning For Your Move, Part 1.
  • Need Later: What you need to keep, but won’t need for the next few weeks. Pack these now. Make sure you label all boxes clearly. What’s in the box and where does it go? For example: KITCHEN- GOOD GLASSWARE.
  • May Not Need: Finally, what you haven’t used for the last six months. Seriously! Think about donating or selling the items that you haven’t used in the last six months. Yes, we know that there will be things that you haven’t used in the last six months that you will want to keep, but this is an exercise to make sure what you move (lift, carry or pay to move) doesn’t just end up in the trash at the other end. (We’re keeping the chicken!)

While you’re doing all the prep work make sure all of your important documents are packed together. If you don’t have a desk file or alphabetized flexible file, now is the time to get organized. Your birth certificate, house deeds, passports, insurance papers, car titles, checkbooks and any other legal documents need to be gathered and these should not be packed for the move. These documents should remain with you during the move.

The final step is to pack the “must haves” we discussed above and referenced in Planning For Your Move, Part 1 (Pack a bag). If at all possible these, as well as your important documents, should travel with you to your new home.

Moving does not need to be stressful and scary. With thorough planning and preparation, moving can be a pleasant and rewarding experience. Stay tuned for the next article in our Planning Your Move Series Part 4 – Day Of.

Written by Bob and Sue Russo

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As a Buyer, How do I Pay my Real Estate Agent?

When most people begin their home search, they typically enlist the assistance of a real estate agent. With everything an agent does for the buyer, many buyers ask how do I pay my agent? Typically, the seller pays agent’s commission as it comes out of the sales prices of the home.

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A real estate agent does many things for their buyers on new construction homes, including explaining and negotiating the contract, attending the selections appointment and construction orientations, communicating with the Builder on the progress of the home and attending closing. They can also suggest mortgage lenders and home insurance companies. So with everything they do to benefit you, the buyer, it’s important to understand their commission.

The seller makes an agreement with the listing agent on what the commission will be. That amount is added into the sales price of the home. A typical commission can be between 5%-6%. If the seller is offering a total of 6%, the list side will get 3%, and the listing side will offer the buyer’s agent 3% commission to bring a buyer to their listing. If the list agent brings a buyer to their listing directly without a buyer’s agent bringing the buyer, it is called dual agency, the list agent will now get paid a 6% commission as they are representing both the seller and buyer.

For example:

The home you’re purchasing is $200,000 and the commission rate is 6%. ($200,000 house price X 0.06 = $12,000) The agent split can vary, it could be 60% to the agent and 40% to the firm, or it could be 50/50, 60/40, 70/30 or whatever the firm and agent agreed upon. In a 60/40 split, the commission breakdowns would be:

Dual Agent Example

  • Agent: $7,200 (office fees are taken out of this commission)
  • List Firm: $4,800

Buyer Agent and List Agent Example

  • Buyer Agent: $3,600 (plus office fees)
  • Buyer Agent Firm: $2,400
  • List Agent: $3,600 (plus office fees)
  • List Agent Firm: $2,400

Real estate agents make their money from the commission of the sale. So you, the buyer, won’t have any upfront fees for while working with your agent.

By Jennifer Buckwalter and Charmaine Simmons

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What causes drywall cracks, nail pops and screw pops?

Inevitably, at some point in time all homes develop cracks in the drywall, nail and screw pops as well as caulk separation. So what causes drywall cracks, nail pops and screw pops and will it ever stop? The two main reasons these happen are due to temperature fluctuation and structural settling.

drywall-cracks-and-pops

As the seasons change so do the temperatures inside and outside the home. Depending on when your new home is completed, the inside temperatures between summer and winter can vary as much as 30+ degrees. So as you regulate the temperatures in your home, the materials expand and contract. Cooling the home causes materials to contract while heating the home causes the materials to expand. This will often show up in the form of cracks in drywall accompanied by nail and screw pops and caulk separation. Most of these drywall problems occur within the first 30 days from the time the temperature is regulated.

Here in North Carolina, the temperatures can vary from single digits in the winter to triple digits in the summer. Those major temperature changes contribute to the expanding and contracting of the materials as the outside materials are connected to the inside materials of your home.

The second factor is fairly simple. Your new house will settle. It takes a period of time for a house to settle completely. Usually, the majority of the settling will happen within the first year. The materials used to build your home will give a little here and there resulting in drywall cracks, nail and screw pops and caulk separation. If you are asking yourself, will it ever stop? It will lessen over time, but unfortunately it won’t go away entirely as homes never stop moving.

What can you do to help minimize these drywall cracks and nail and screw pops? Keeping the temperature regulated in your house is the most important way to minimize drywall problems. It’s best to keep the inside temperature somewhere between 60° and 80° F (15° and 27° C), to avoid temperature extremes inside the home.

While drywall cracks, nail and screw pops and cracked caulking are frustrating, it doesn’t mean that your home was poorly built. Repairing them is part of routine homeowner maintenance which will be covered in another article.

By Lee Benson

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Planning for Your Move Part 2 (Lists)

Moving 101

Planning For Your Move, Part 2

We have found that creating lists is a vital part of the moving process. List are helpful for a variety of reasons. Creating a detailed list of everything that you need to do will help reduce the stress of the move. If it’s on the list, it’s off our mind until you complete the “to do.” You can keep this list on a piece of scrap paper, your iPad or smart phone if you like, but we have found it very helpful to go “old school” on this one. We purchase a “move” composition notebook, which serves as a temporary file for all our move documents and receipts.

making a list

Yes, just like the type of notebook we used in school. Write down everything you need to do in this notebook. The more detailed you are in your list, the less you need to think about it on the spot. Don’t just say, “call utilities”, write them all out. For example:

  • Does my new home have the same cell service (depending on the move you may need to change providers).
  • Create staging area for our packed boxes.
  • Call old cell provider and cancel service.
  • Call new cell provider and establish service.
  • Cancel old electric service.
  • Call new electric service.
  • Add line item for every utility both old and new.
  • Clean out master bedroom closet (we will talk more about this in item 3 below).
  • Add line item for every room and closet in your home.
  • Take donated items to the Salvation Army.
  • If you are not making a local move, check your calendar for all future appointments and cancel them.
  • Do you need a referral for doctors, etc. in your new area?
  • If you are moving local, and are not planning to hire someone to help, tell friends and family the date you are moving (hopefully you have some volunteers).
  • Don’t forget to check ISP, TV, insurance, USPS address change notice, notify bank regarding address change (some bank documents will not get forwarded), etc.

You get the idea! You may be thinking you can handle a lot of the utility transfers online, but based on our experience some providers insist on talking to you regarding canceling or starting new service. Can’t tell you how many hours we’ve been on hold with utility companies. (Maybe you can be cleaning out the closet while you’re waiting on hold.)

When you make contact with old and new providers, make a note next to your line item in your notebook such as: method of contact, date of contact and results of contact, for example, I called on Monday, June 10 at 11:00 and was on hold for 20 minutes, got tired of waiting and hung up.

This does help! When your significant other asks, “did you call the internet service provider?” You can say, “yes I called on 4/30 at 2PM and they said they do provide service at our new location.” Don’t you look smart. Good for you!

Okay, so one of the best reasons we like the detailed list idea, is the satisfaction we feel when we cross items off the list. If you clean out a closet today or called one utility, cross it off your list! If you leave it on there, it might feel like you didn’t accomplish anything, when in fact you actually did.

Making a list is a tried and true practice. Our teachers and councilors alike have told us if it’s on your mind, write it down. We take this advice to heart when it comes to planning a move.   We recommend that you do the same. Happy planning!

Written by Bob and Sue Russo

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Top 3 Reasons You May Have Standing Water in Your Yard

If you have purchased a new home, or recently added fencing or landscaping to your home, and are noticing standing water in your yard, you may have one of the following three problems.

The top 3 reasons you may have standing water in your yard are:

  1. A heavy rain event occurred within the past 48 hours.
  2. Fencing is blocking proper drainage flow.
  3. The initial grading plan was changed.

standing water in yard

Proper grading occurs when an engineer takes careful consideration to plan out the original site. The landscaper then takes those plans and ensures that the final grade is established properly. Altering the original site grading without first consulting a professional landscaper could render the landscaping part of a homeowner warranty void. Improper grading could possibly lead to washouts (portions of land get washed away) and/or water damage to the exterior and interior of the home.

If you notice standing water in your yard there may be a grading or drainage problem which is most likely caused by one of the issues listed below.

  1. A heavy rain event occurred within the past 48 hours.
    A properly graded yard with adequate drainage swales will ensure that water will not remain standing 48 hours after a heavy rain event. It is however, normal to see some pooling water immediately after a large storm.
  1. Fencing is blocking proper drainage flow.
    Fencing that is placed low or close to the ground may affect the proper drainage of water. If a homeowner chooses to install his or her own fence, it’s important for them to consider the drainage pattern in the yard and not install the fencing in such as way as to block the natural drainage of the yard.
  1. The initial grading plan was changed.
    A change in grading caused by landscape beds or other type of landscaping may increase the likelihood of standing water or other drainage issues. It is critical when adding or modifying the landscaping of your yard to take the original grading and drainage into account. If you block the drainage away from your home with new landscaping, you may end up with water damage to your home’s siding and interior.

A beautifully landscaped yard is a wonderful addition to a new home as well as a neighborhood. Keeping the above information in mind will ensure that you enjoy a home and yard free of any water drainage related issues.

By Kevin Kozlowski

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McKee Homes Introduces Our Traditional Style Floor Plans

McKee Homes is introducing four new elevation styles for our most popular floor plans. The first new elevation style to be unveiled is the Traditional, at our upscale Plantation Pointe community, located in Mid South Club, a private gated community in Southern Pines, N.C., catering to those seeking country club-type living.

Old Clubhouse Drive at Plantation Pointe in Mid South Club

Plantation Pointe is located within easy access to the main Mid South Club entrance and overlooks the clubhouse and driving range. With only 19 lots in an ideal location, this community will sell out quickly. Plantation Pointe provides its residents easy access to the community’s many amenities and is walking distance to the tennis courts, driving range, golf course, clubhouse, and pool.

Plantation Pointe Sitemap

The Traditional floor plans have all the great features of McKee Homes’ standard floor plans but with brick instead of stone and clean lines for a more traditional look.

The first four homes built in Plantation Pointe include many upgrades and are absolutely stunning. The homes include 9′ smooth ceilings downstairs, antique nickel hardware throughout, upgraded decorative light fixtures, two-panel cottage style interior doors, designer ventilated closet shelving system, crown molding and chair rail in selected areas and USB ports in the kitchen, master bedroom and tech room. The master bedroom has a trey ceiling, walk in closet, attached master bath with garden tub and separate tiled shower and also includes ceramic tile flooring.

Beaufort Traditional Elevation

The exteriors include long lasting cement board lap and pre-stained shake siding, oversized two-car garage with 8′ high garage door, 30-year architectural roof shingles as well as gutters installed on entire home. Irrigation system installed in front and back of home and Home Team Pest Defense TAEXX® Built -in Pest Control System.

The next elevation style to be release will be the Craftsman in Knightdale Station. We are beginning construction of our first Craftsman style homes in Knightdale Station next to the new 76-acre park in the town of Knightdale, NC.

By John Rives

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Planning for Your Move Part 1 (Pack A Bag)

Moving 101

Planning For Your Move, Part 1

Moving can be a stressful experience. We have made many local as well as cross country moves over the years. We’d like to share some things that we have learned that may help reduce this stress. One of the first things you should do when planning for your move is to decide whether you will be moving yourself or if you are going hire a mover. If you are going to be moving yourself, start gathering boxes. You can buy boxes and packing tape at Lowes or Home Depot, but it costs about $3.00 for one large (18”x 24”) packing box. To save money, start collecting boxes from friends, family, the liquor store or any other source you have for free boxes. Doing this could save you up to a few hundred dollars. You can also get end-rolls of news print paper from the local newspaper printing department for about $1 per roll to use as packing paper. It’s the same paper they use to print the newspaper but it’s clean and free of printing. If you hire a mover, the mover will generally supply boxes, packing materials and tape to you as part of their package.

Whether you decide to use a professional or move your things yourself, it’s important to remember to pack a bag.

To avoid the embarrassment of having to wear a Hawaiian shirt that may only be appropriate in Hawaii or the possibility of walking around with “mossy” teeth. It’s important to pack a bag for each family member a few days before you move. You should think about it as if you are going on vacation or a business trip for a week. Make sure you think about everything you would need. Don’t forget the cosmetics, medicine, cell phone chargers and little Susie’s favorite blanket. These items should stay with you, not with the moving truck. You may also want to pack a few basic items for the kitchen, like the coffee pot, especially if you are making a local move.

When you get to your new home it’s important to bring these items in first. They should be placed in a safe spot that will not get buried under a pile of boxes. You may need to eat take out for a few days, but at least you’ll have clean clothes and fresh breath. If you plan ahead you can ease the stress and not end up like Bob on his first day in his new home

There are a lot of other things that will help you make the transition from one home to another home go as smoothly as possible. Stay tuned for more Planning Your Move Tips from Bob and Sue.

Written by Bob and Sue Russo

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Difference between builder grade and retail products

The term ‘builder grade’ often has negative connotations and is sometimes thought of as synonymous with low-grade products and materials. However the difference between builder grade and retail products bought at home improvement stores is often negligible.

builder grade products

It would be more accurate to say that builder grade is the medium grade product that production builders are able to get at the best price-point-to-quality for their homes. The main difference in builder grade and retail products is marketing, labeling, availability and distribution. Since production home builders buy products in large quantities they can usually get the same product at a lower cost.

That doesn’t mean that the standard builder grade products are the best products or will last as long as more expensive premium upgrade products and materials. Since builders have to compete with each other on price, and most homebuyers are shopping for homes based on price, they work out the grade of products and materials that will give the homebuyer the best deal for the money and use them as the standard for their homes. Most new home builders offer upgrades to roofing, siding, windows and doors, interior finishes, plumbing and electrical fixtures, paint, and floor coverings to name a few, and will work with homebuyers to go over the the cost and longevity of the options and upgrades they offer.

If you are thinking of buying a new home, or having one built, the quality of the products and materials used in the home are an important part of the many decisions you will need to make. An important determining factor in whether to upgrade the products and materials from builder grade to premium grade would be how long you anticipate living in the home. If you are going to be in the home for less than five years, it doesn’t really make sense to spend a lot of extra money on upgrades, but if you anticipate living in the house for 10-20 years, it might make sense to upgrade some of the products used in your new home. This would be especially true if you plan to retire in the home and don’t want to deal with expensive home maintenance and upkeep issues down the road.

An example of upgrades that make sense long term would be upgrading the roofing from the standard 20-year shingles to 30-year shingles. This means under normal conditions, even if you stay in the house for 30 or more years, you shouldn’t have to replace the roof shingles. A little more money spent up front can sometimes save a lot of money later on.

An example of where it doesn’t make sense to upgrade would be if you are a first-time home buyer or are relocating for work and only plan on keeping the house for 5-10 years and then selling it to buy another home. In that case it makes more sense to get into your home at the lowest cost initially and not spending a lot of extra money on upgrades that you won’t be there to take advantage of.

Either way it is important to shop around and view homes by various builders in the area you want to buy so you can see what is offered as standard builder grade by different builders.

The decisions and choices that need to be made when buying or building a new home can sometimes be overwhelming. At McKee Homes we offer the best possible quality products and materials at the lowest cost to the homebuyer, but are also happy to offer premium upgrades to satisfy the needs of all our homebuyers. We have a dedicated and experienced new home selections coordinator who will guide you through the process of choosing the products and finishes used in your home and help you make the most informed and best decisions for your budget and the longevity of your home.

We also have a new home specialist who is available by phone at 910-672-7296, live chat, or email to set up VIP home tours for you to view any of our floor plans or neighborhoods with someone who can answer all your questions and help you make the best decisions when it comes to buying or building a new home.

By Tish Oakley and John Rives

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How to Maintain Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is the top siding option in the United States for remodeling and new construction. Its popularity is primarily due to its upscale appearance, outstanding durability, easy upkeep and exceptional value.

vinyl siding

Vinyl siding is not maintenance-free, but is definitely reduced maintenance. Here are a few tips to help keep your vinyl siding looking food for years to come.

  • Wash it yearly. Siding accumulates dirt, grime and other stains throughout the year. It can also grow mold and mildew in damp, shady areas. To clean your siding, use a cloth or soft bristle brush starting at the bottom and working your way up to avoid streaking. There are several types of cleaning products you can purchase, but a homemade solution can work just as well. For a homemade solution mix the following ingredients: 1/3 cup powered laundry detergent, 2/3 cup powered household cleaner, 1 quart liquid laundry bleach and 1 gallon water. Be sure to cover any brick facing or landscaping so it’s not affected by the runoff. (vinylsiding.org) You can also pressure wash your home, but you have to do it carefully. You need to hold the power washer straight at eye level to keep it from going behind the siding.
  • Don’t hit it. Be mindful where you park your lawn mower or bicycles. Vinyl siding won’t dent, but it can crack or break. If it does get damaged, be sure to replace it as soon as possible.
  • Inspect it. Vinyl siding can conceal moisture-related issues, so checking to make sure there are no loose areas can help you spot small issues before they turn into larger problems.
  • It can melt. Open flame can do a lot of damage to your vinyl siding. Keeping your grills at least 2-3 feet away from your home is a safe distance.

As you can see, vinyl siding is a low maintenance siding option. Doing these simple steps will keep your home looking like new for years to come.

Source: http://www.almanac.com/content/maintaining-your-vinyl-siding; www.vinylsiding.org.

By Kenny Jones and Charmaine Simmons

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How To Navigate Online Home Buying

Have you ever bought anything online: clothes, books, furniture, etc.? For the majority of you, the answer is a resounding, YES! People are buying everything online these days from mascara to motorbikes to new homes.

Think back to your last online purchase. What kind of customer service did you receive? Chances are it wasn’t the best. When buying something online, must we sacrifice strong customer service for convenience? Is it possible to have both the ease of making purchases online and exceptional customer service? Well, I am here to tell you that it is possible!

When shopping for a new home, 93% of buyers start online. They may spend up to six months, sometimes more, looking for a new home before they reach out to a real estate agent or sales person. They compare houses, neighborhoods and features. During this process the new home buyer may have questions, but for a variety of reasons, may be reluctant to ask.

mckee homes online home buying

At McKee Homes, we have a customer friendly process that caters to online shoppers and the online home buying experience. Our website is clearly laid out and has a strong visual appeal allowing visitors to view floor plans, neighborhoods and available homes from the comfort of their own home. We also have an interactive design app that allows visitors to choose the colors of siding, roofing, doors and stone samples on the front elevation of most of our floor plans as well as choose the floor plan options they would like. They can save their work as a brochure, download it and share it with friends.  In addition, we have New Home Specialists available to answer any questions a buyer might have.

A buyer can interact with our New Home Specialists as little or as much as they would like. While on the McKee Homes Website, a small pop up window will appear, asking if a buyer needs any help or has any questions. The buyer has several options at this point:

  1. Click on the X in the corner of the window to close it out.
  2. Type a question in the window (live chat).
  3. Email us.
  4. Call us.

There is also a floating button on the right side of our web pages labeled “Have A Question? “which has links to live chat, email and phone. Having multiple ways to communicate with us, allows the buyer to choose the method they are most comfortable with.

how to navigate online home buying

Once a buyer reaches out to our New Home Specialists, they provide guidance and answer specific questions, which helps the buyer narrow their search to find the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood. Once they have narrowed the search, the New Home Specialists can set up a VIP appointment with our Onsite Specialist. The buyer then visits the neighborhood to determine if the house is in fact a “best fit.” Our New Home Specialists collaborate with the Onsite Specialists to ensure that our buyer has the best customer experience possible. At this point in the process, the homebuyer’s main contact usually switches over to the Onsite Specialist, however our New Home Specialist is always available to support the customer and the Onsite New Home Specialist.

McKee Homes has an online experience that is both informative and customer service focused. Choosing a McKee Home and working with a New Home Specialist puts the buyer in the driver’s seat.

By Julie Russo

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