9 Tools Every First Time Homebuyer Should Have

Tools Every First Time Homebuyer Needs

You’ve purchased your first home and are getting settled, you get to start decorating and making it your own. Something you’ll quickly find you need are tools. There are a ton of tools out there, but here are the nine tools every first time homebuyer should have.

  1. Cordless Drill – This power tool will become your best friend. With its many uses you’ll find yourself using it for all your home projects. Cordless drills start around $40.
  2. Screwdriver Set – If you’re trying to tighten something or putting together new furniture, you’ll find yourself needing both flathead and a Phillips head screwdrivers in varying sizes. A 6-in-1 reversible screwdriver set start as low as $5.
  3. Combination Wrench Set – As you begin putting things together in your new home, you will find that you need to tighten and/or loosen nuts and bolts, so you’ll find yourself in need of wrenches. A set of combination wrenches can be found for around $14.
  4. Tape Measure – Whether you’re hanging pictures, measuring furniture or working on a project, a tape measure is a necessary tool for your toolbox. Don’t forget the old saying “measure twice, cut once.” A 30-foot tape measure starts at $14.
  5. Hammer – Whether you’re trying to hammer something into place or remove a nail from a wall, no toolbox is complete without a hammer. They range in cost, but start at about $5.
  6. Stud Finder – This is going to be an indispensable tool when you start hanging things on the walls or trying to do any in-wall projects. Stud finders start at about $15 each.
  7. Putty Knife – This tool will come in handy if you need to fill in holes on your walls. Putty knives on average are $4-$5 each.
  8. Level – Nothing is worse than a crocked picture or shelf and that’s when a level comes in handy. A two-foot level starts around $7.
  9. Ladder – While it won’t fit in your toolbox, this is an essential tool for your new home. Whether you’re cleaning out gutters, painting walls or hanging Christmas lights, you’ll find that you need a ladder. Type II fiberglass ladders start at $55.

McKee Homes, North Carolina’s #1 Choice for New Homes

McKee Homes has highly skilled team members dedicated to creating the best home building and buying experience possible in Eastern North Carolina.  Areas we are building in include:  Fayetteville, Pinehurst, Raleigh and Wilmington NC.  Some of our new home resources we can provide you include:  New Home Financing, Specially Adapted Housing, Buyer Incentives and more.

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5 Tips for Choosing the Best Mortgage for You

The type of mortgage you choose could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage. Take your time and make sure you have all the facts before making a final decision.

Download Your Home Loan Toolkit  for a free step-by-step guide with worksheets that help you work through each step in the process listed below and get the best mortgage for your situation.

Your Home Loan Toolkit

  1. Define what affordable means to you
    A mortgage lending rule of thumb is that your total monthly home payment should be at or below 28% of your total monthly income before taxes. Lenders may approve you for more or for less depending on your overall financial picture, but how much are you comfortable paying each month for your total home loan? The total home loan cost includes the mortgage principal plus interest, mortgage insurance, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and any HOA or other neighborhood fees.  See pages 3-5 in Your Home Loan Toolkit (YHLT) for more information and worksheets.
  2. Understand your credit score
    Your credit, your credit scores, and how wisely you shop for a loan that best fits your needs have a significant impact on your mortgage interest rate and the fees you pay. To improve your credit and your chances of getting a better mortgage, get current on your payments and stay current. About 35% of your credit scores are based on whether or not you pay your bills on time. About 30% of your credit scores are based on how much debt you owe. That’s why you may want to consider paying down some of your debts. See page 6 in YHLT for more information.
  3. Pick the mortgage type that works best for you
    There are many different types of mortgages with the main differences being loan term, interest rate type, and loan type. Loan term indicates the length of the loan such as 30 years, 15 years or other. Interest rate type generally refers to either fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages. Loan type includes categories such as conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA. Government programs often include low down payment or no down payment options. See page 7 in YHLT for more information.
  4. Understanding the difference between points and interest rate
    Points are a percentage of a loan amount. For example, when a loan officer talks about one point on a $100,000 loan, the loan officer is talking about one percent of the loan, which equals $1,000. Lenders offer different interest rates on loans with different points. There are three main choices you can make about points. You can decide you don’t want to pay or receive points at all. This is called a zero point loan. You can pay points at closing to receive a lower interest rate. Or you can choose to have points paid to you (also called lender credits) and use them to cover some of your closing costs. See page 9 in YHLT for more information.
  5. Choose your mortgage and avoid pitfalls
    Once you’ve done your homework and figured out how much total loan cost you can afford each month, reviewed your credit score and decided on the type of loan you want, it’s time to shop for a mortgage. This important step could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage. Take your time and make sure you have all the facts before signing any documents.

    • Make a list of several lenders you will start with
    • Get the facts from the lenders on your list
    • Compare Total Loan Costs

See pages 10-15 in YHLT for worksheets and more information on choosing the best mortgage for you as well as avoiding common pitfalls and handling any problems that should arise.

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Single Story Ranch Vs Two Story Home

If you are thinking of buying or building a new home, at some point you will have to consider the pros and cons of a single story ranch Vs two story home. There are advantages to both styles of home so it’s important to know which style would work best for your family and lifestyle.

single story ranch Vs two story home

Many people believe that two story homes are more economical because they require less foundation and roof structure. The rooms on the first floor don’t require a roof and the rooms on the second floor don’t require a foundation. There is also some savings on plumbing and electrical wiring because of closer proximity of all the rooms in the house. However, two story homes generally require a second HVAC system for heating and cooling the second floor as well as stairs which can be expensive and eat up square footage inside the home.

As it turns out the difference in cost of a single story ranch Vs two story home is not really enough to make a decision based solely on cost. So what are the important differences that might affect your family?

Single Story Home

  • Safer for families with young children and better for older, mobility challenged people and/or pets. Allows for ‘aging in place’.
  • More options for different ceiling heights and skylights.
  • Save up to 100 sq. ft. with no stairs.
  • No noise from stairs and second story traffic.
  • Fewer bathrooms needed.
  • Can combine mud room with laundry room.
  • Easier to access and clean gutters, roof and outside walls.
  • Easier to evacuate in case of fire.
  • Less expensive to add on to the structure of the home.
  • Easier to resell. More popular with home buyers.

Two Story Home

  • Require less foundation, roof, plumbing and wiring which can lower cost per sq. ft.
  • Smaller footprint means more lot and floor plan options as well as usable yard space.
  • More energy efficient, however two HVAC systems may be required.
  • More separation between rooms up/down. Better for families with teens.
  • Smaller roof to maintain.
  • More expansive views from second floor.
  • Safe to leave second story windows open.

Single story homes are safer for families with young children and more practical for those with mobility issues that might make it difficult or impossible to climb stairs. If you are buying or building a ‘forever’ home, sometimes referred to as aging in place, a single story home is usually the best option.

Two story homes, especially those with a downstairs master bedroom, may be more ideal for those with teenagers living at home. There is more separation between the upstairs bedrooms and bonus rooms and the downstairs living space. The view from the second floor may be more appealing and it’s safer to leave a second floor window open, especially at night.

There are many other factors involved such as accessing exterior siding, gutters and roofing for cleaning and repair, overall footprint and yard space as well as cost to add on to the home later should the need arise. Hopefully, this article will help you when it comes to deciding the best option for your family between a single story ranch Vs two story home.

Floor Plans and Available Homes

McKee Homes offers a great selection of single story, two story and three story floor plans. Many of our single story floor plans have an option for a second floor guest suite which is the best of both worlds. View our single story homes floor plans. If you are more interested in two story home floor plans, please visit our main floor plan page.

For move-in ready homes, please visit our advanced search page and select the number of stories you prefer in the search form to see a list all available homes in that style.


McKee Homes, North Carolina’s #1 Choice for New Homes

McKee Homes has highly skilled team members dedicated to creating the best home building and buying experience possible in Eastern North Carolina.  Areas we are building in include:  Fayetteville, Pinehurst, Raleigh and Wilmington NC.  Some of our new home resources we can provide you include:  New Home Financing, Specially Adapted Housing, Buyer Incentives and more.

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Finished Bonus Room or Guest Suite

Is it worth the cost to add a finished bonus room or guest suite to your house or when building a new home?

finished bonus room or guest suite

There are many reasons people consider adding a finished bonus room or guest suite to their house or new home construction project.

  1. They are about to build a new home and it is cost effective to add the additional space.
  2. They have an existing home but need more space or want to add to the resale value of the home.
  3. They need an another bedroom/bathroom to accommodate additional family members such as a new child, older kids moving back home or aging parents.
  4. One or more persons work from home and need a large office with plenty of storage.

These are just a few of the many reasons you may want to add on to your existing home or include a finished bonus room when building a new home. So, how do you know if it’s worth the cost to add a finished bonus room or guest suite to your home?

A bonus room is generally built in the attic, often over the garage, in a house that has a steep roof pitch to allow for living space to be built. A guest suite is generally added to the first floor of a home and requires additional foundation and exterior walls making it a more expensive option.

Existing Home

If you are adding a finished second or third floor bonus room or a guest suite to an existing home it’s important to consider whether you plan to resell the home in the near future. If the additional square footage and cost makes your home larger and more expensive than most of the other homes in your neighborhood, it might make it difficult to sell, or you may not recover the cost for the addition. However if you plan on staying in the home over a long period of time, and you need the space, it would probably cost less to add to your home than to sell it and buy a larger home.

Bonus room additions are generally more affordable than adding a guest suite because there is no foundation work involved. And since they don’t increase the footprint of the home, they provide a better option in areas where variances would need to be granted for first floor expansion.

Another thing to consider with a guest suite is if you have a septic system or sewer. If you have a septic system, adding an additional bedroom/bathroom might mean having to increase the size of the septic tank and leach field which would add quite a bit to the cost of the project and to your investment in the home.

New Construction

If you are building a new home the cost to finish a second or third floor bonus room or guest suite is going to be less than adding it to an existing home, and the work can be done during the construction of the house, so no mess and inconvenience while living in the home.

With a bonus room you also have the option of putting in the plumbing for a bath and having the walls framed, but leaving it unfinished until you need the space, to save money initially. It doesn’t cost that much to get the rough plumbing and framing done while the house is being built and it will save a lot of money later on if you end up finishing the space. If you’re handy with that sort of thing, you can even finish it off yourself.

Talk with your builder, selections coordinator and lender to find out if it’s worth the extra cost to add the additional square footage to your home before you begin building a new home. If your home is one of the smaller homes in the neighborhood, it is probably a good idea to add a finished second or third floor bonus room or first floor guest suite which would give you more space for a growing family and probably make the home easier to sell if the need arises.


McKee Homes is the New Home Builder of Choice in North Carolina
At McKee Homes, we realize that our most important asset is our customers. We have created processes for home construction, selections, and closings that include as many touch points with our home buyers as possible.  We are currently building new homes in  Fayetteville, Pinehurst, Raleigh and Wilmington NC.

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5 Common Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make with New Construction

5 Common Mistakes First Time Homebuyers Make

So, you’ve been going back and forth but have decided that now is the right time to buy your first home. You’ve worked on your credit score and you’ve saved up for a down payment and are ready to get started. So before you get too far into the home buying process you should take a few minutes to read these five common mistakes first-time homebuyers make with in new construction.

  1. Thinking you can’t afford new construction.
    There are many options available in the real estate market, but thinking you have to settle on a used home is not your only option. New homes are available in many price ranges and in areas you want to be. New construction can even save you money compared to used homes. New homes are more energy efficient with lower maintenance costs; where as used homes are typically less energy efficient and may require expensive maintenance much sooner. Replacing roofing, appliances, HVAC system components or water heaters can be very expensive.
  2. Running up debt after the pre-approval.
    The construction process on a new home can take up to six month and sometimes even longer. Some first-time homebuyers can get excited about getting new things for their new home, like furniture or a new car, and doing this can effect your chances of getting your home loan. From the day you sign your contract to the day you close on your home, the general rule of thumb is don’t open any new lines of credit or increase the amounts on any open credit accounts.
  3. Not knowing the plans for the community.
    You may think the charming community with only 12 homes is just what you’re looking for, but if you ask the Builder’s representative this charming neighborhood is actually the beginning of a 300-home community. Or you could have selected a home that backs up to a vacant field, but there are plans to build an apartment complex in the next six months. Be sure to ask the Builder’s representative what the future plans are so you can make sure you are selecting the right neighborhood for you and your family.
  4. Not speaking up or asking questions.
    Sometimes speaking up or asking questions can be difficult, but it is key that you do this. If you have questions at any stage in the process, from contract to closing to warranty, you need to be sure to ASK. There are no silly questions. Since you’ve never built a new home you may not know what that “doohickey” in the attic is or if that “doodad” is covered under warranty, so you need to ask. Your agent and the Builder’s representative are there to answer those questions for you.
  5. Going overboard with upgrades.
    Remember that model home you fell in love with? There is a high chance that that home was heavily upgraded. So when you go to your selections appointment you should go with a budget in mind. You’ll need to weigh the cost of getting everything you want versus having just the options you really want and staying within your budget. Some upgrades can pay off in the long run, like upgraded carpet padding as it can extend the life of your carpet. However, you should also consider the resale value when doing your upgrades. The average first-time homebuyer usually lives in their home for 11 years before selling. You may have always dreamed of lavender countertops in your master bathroom, but when you go to resale your home that might be a turn off for potential buyers. Maybe lavender on your walls could be a nice compromise.

There is no better feeling than the profound pride that comes with owning your first home. And just imagine if your new home is brand new. So avoiding these five common mistakes first-time homeowners make with new construction can lead to making the right home buying decision for you and your family.

McKee Homes has highly skilled team members dedicated to creating the best home building and buying experience possible in Eastern North Carolina. Areas we are building in include: Fayetteville, Pinehurst, Raleigh and Wilmington NC. Some of our new home resources we can provide you include: New Home Financing, Specially Adapted Housing, Buyer Incentives and more.

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7 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Summer

Summer is finally here with longer days and warmer weather. It’s time to get out the barbecue grill and spend some fun evenings and weekends with family and friends out on the deck or patio. Here are 7 tips to get your home ready for summer so you and your family and friends can kick back and enjoy the summer.

summer entertaining

  1. Have HVAC system serviced and cleaned
    You definitely want to stay cool this summer so make sure your HVAC unit is working at peak efficiency. It’s a good idea to have your HVAC system cleaned and inspected each year and summer is a great time to get this done. Your AC condenser is outside your house and can get really dirty and gummed up with leaves and other debris especially during the winter months. Make sure to clean any debris on and around the condenser and have it inspected by a pro to keep it running efficiently through the summer months. If you decide to clean the condenser unit thoroughly yourself, make sure to turn the power to the unit off first and be very careful not to damage the condenser fins which are fragile and easily bent or crushed.
  2. Clean the gutters
    The gutters on your home are probably full of leaves, pine needles and other gunk from the winter season. Now that it’s warm, find a sturdy ladder and clean out the gutters and down pipes, or better yet, hire someone to do it for you.
  3. Inspect and repair roofing and siding
    Summer is also a good time to inspect the roofing, siding, windows and exterior doors of your home to find any damage that may have occurred during winter or spring storms. Remove and replace caulking as necessary on siding windows and doors and repair or replace any damaged roofing.  If you aren’t comfortable doing this type of work you can always hire someone to do it for you.
  4. Clean deck and patio
    You’ll probably want to spend a lot of time outside this summer with family and friends so make sure your deck, patio and porch are ready for entertaining. Pressure-wash concrete patios and wood decks to get rid of all the grime that may have accumulated from the winter months. Summer is a great time to reseal or repaint your deck and porch so it looks like new again. Don’t forget to inspect and clean your outdoor furniture and wash cushions so you are ready for summer entertaining.
  5. Clean and repair driveway and walkways
    Rent or buy a power-washer or hire someone to clean these areas. It’s amazing how a good cleaning can make the exterior of your home look like new again. Summer is the perfect time to repair cracks and joints in concrete walkways, stairs and driveways. Check with your local home improvement store to find the best products for your needs or hire a professional to do any needed repairs.
  6. Weed and mulch flower beds
    Weeds can take over flower beds and planted areas around the home in the spring and summer months so make sure to keep on top of weed removal before it gets out of control. This will help your flowers and shrubs grow healthier and look better. Add some fresh mulch to protect the plants and make your landscaping look great again.
  7. Fertilize and reseed lawn
    Depending on the type of grass you have in your lawn, summer may be the perfect time to reseed and fill in bald patches in your lawn. Make sure to remove leaves and twigs and de-thatch dead grass with a rake before reseeding your lawn. Check with a landscape supplier or home improvement store to make sure you get the right seed for your lawn and don’t forget to fertilize and keep it watered while the new seed is germinating and growing.
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Odd Shaped Window Covering Options

Extended Leg Eyebrow

Moving into your new home is such an exciting time. Your new home is a blank canvas and you get to decide where to put everything and how to decorate it. As you start looking at your windows thinking about coverings, you see it…that odd shaped window. You think to yourself “how do I cover that window?”

There are all kinds of odd or specialty windows available: full circle, half circle, eyebrow, octagon, trapezoid and palladium to name a few. Specialty windows can add elegance and character to your home. Sometimes these windows are in places that it may not be critical to cover, like a hallway, a kitchen or the living room. However, when you have these in a bathroom or bedroom, you may be more apt to cover them.

There are several window treatments available depending on your tastes and intended uses. If you want to block but still be able to let light in when you want, you can use blinds. Blinds come in all shapes and sizes and can be ordered to fit the exact dimensions of your window. You can also use cellular shades that help filter light as well as keep out the heat and cold. Curtains can be an option as well. You can install a track that allows you to attach a curtain that you can still open and close. If you’re looking for an option that lets in light but doesn’t allow others to see into your home, self-adhesive window films may be what you’re looking for. These self-adhesive films come in a frosted or matte finish, etched with different designs or some come in colorful designs that can resemble stained glass.

So you may have wondered how you were going to cover that odd shaped window before, but now you know there are several options available that will fit exactly what you’re looking for.

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Introducing the European Elevation Floor Plans in Foxcroft

Family-friendly Foxcroft is conveniently located close to great schools, shopping, dining and events in the renowned golf communities of Pinehurst and Southern Pines in Eastern North Carolina, and the first neighborhood to showcase The McKee Homes European elevation floor plans.

We began building our new European elevation floor plans in Foxcroft toward the end of 2015. With our model home now open, and many new homes almost completed, it’s time to unveil the European elevation floor plans by McKee Homes.

European Elevation floor plans by McKee Homes

The European Elevation Floor Plans

The European elevations include all the great features of our Classic floor plans with custom exterior details that give these homes a refined upscale look. The blend of architectural stone, siding and specially styled arches and roof lines give our European elevations a unique and appealing design.

Foxcroft

Foxcroft is located in Whispering Pines just minutes from Southern Pines and incredible shopping, dining and golf in the Village of Pinehurst!  Foxcroft offers beautiful home sites backing to wooded areas and the quiet privacy of country living. It is also in the much sought-after Farm Life school District.

Foxcroft neighborhood sitemap

This area of Moore County is home to over 40 golf courses within a 15 mile radius including the world-famous Pinehurst No. 2, home to both the men’s and women’s 2014 US Open Championships.

With prestigious golf resorts featuring championship courses, tennis, racquet clubs, swimming and more, and quaint village-style shopping, dining and other events it’s understandable why this area attracts so many visitors and vacationers, but it’s an even better place to call home.

Foxcroft location map

For more information about Foxcroft and our European elevation floor plans, please contact McKee Homes or visit our Foxcroft web page.

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Introducing the Coastal Elevation Floor Plans in Winds Harbor

McKee Homes began building our new Coastal elevation floor plans at Winds Harbor toward the end of 2015. With our model home now open, and many new homes almost completed, it’s time to unveil the Coastal elevation floor plans by McKee Homes.

Coastal Elevation floor plans by McKee Homes

If you’ve been looking for Wilmington new homes, and want a family-friendly neighborhood conveniently located to great schools, shopping, dining and events in historic downtown Wilmington, with some of the best beaches in the area, Winds Harbor may be the perfect place for you.

McKee Homes Coastal Elevation Floor Plans

The Coastal elevation floor plans include all the great features of our Classic floor plans with custom exterior details that make them perfect for the coastal and beach-front lifestyle. The absence of stone and brick on the front with special details and trim give these homes a classic coastal look while maintaining a distinctive elegance and refinement.

Winds Harbor

Winds Harbor is a new community off Middle Sound Loop Road in Wilmington, NC. This ideal family friendly location is less than two thousand feet from the Intracoastal Waterway and a short drive to beautiful Wrightsville Beach, Mayfaire Shopping Center and historic downtown Wilmington.

Winds Harbor in Wilmington, NC by McKee Homes

Wilmington, NC is home to three of North Carolina’s finest beaches. Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach are all within a 25 minute drive of each other.

With a 230-block National Register Historic District, one of the largest in the U.S., Wilmington offers a wide variety of architectural styles and its historic downtown area has a one-mile-long Riverwalk, developed as a tourist attraction, which is home to many boutiques, eclectic shops and vibrant nightlife venues.

Enjoy fresh local seafood and regional specialties at over 40 locally owned restaurants and pubs in downtown Wilmington’s historic river district, many featuring live music.

Winds Harbor location map

For more information about Winds Harbor and our Coastal elevation floor plans, please contact McKee Homes or visit our Winds Harbor web page.

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Multi-Generational Homes With First and Second Floor Owner’s Suites

Homes with first and second floor owner’s suites, often referred to as multi-generational homes, have become very popular in the last 10 years. Some multi-generational homes have separate entrances and small kitchens in guest suites for more privacy and independence, however all areas are typically connected to the main house for security and economy.

According to a 2015 report from the National Association of REALTORS®, 13% of all homebuyers in 2014 bought multi-generational homes with the main reasons being cost savings, children over 18 moving back into their parent’s home, caretaking of aging parents and spending more time with aging parents.

multi-generational family

While the initial cost of multi-generational homes can be a little higher than the typical 3 bed/2.5 bath home, the total cost for everyone living in the home is much less when you consider the cost of a mortgage or monthly rent for aging parents and/or kids just out of college.

A popular new home feature is first and second floor owner’s suites. Even if a house doesn’t have separate entrances or kitchens, this design allows parents to sleep upstairs near their children while the kids are young and then move downstairs once the kids get older or are out of the house. Having a full owner’s suite on both floors allows for much more flexibility in lifestyle. As homeowners age they can live on the first floor of the home and not have to go up and down stairs to the bedroom. That can also save money as the second floor of the home does not need to be heated and cooled as much, but is still available for visits from family and friends when needed.

Many new home builders are now offering multi-generational homes and homes with first and second floor owner’s suites, guest suites with optional kitchenettes and separate entrances. McKee Homes has a dozen floor plans with first and second floor owner’s suites, optional guest suites or optional second floor guest suites with kitchenettes.

First and second floor owner’s suites: Brooks, Clark and Sanborne

Optional first floor guest suite: Beaufort

Optional second floor guest suite: Canterbury and Riddick

Optional second floor guest suite with option for wet bar or kitchenette: Palazzo, Portico, Promenade, Salerno, Torino, and Verona

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