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Spring Home Maintenance Tips

It’s that time of year again when most of us want to spend time enjoying outdoor spaces like patios, decks and yards. There may be some home and yard maintenance needed before you can really relax and enjoy the outdoor spaces around your home though, so use these spring home maintenance tips to get your home ready for the upcoming season.

Spring home maintenance tips can be grouped into three main areas: home exterior, home interior and outdoors. If you find problems in any of these areas, you may want to call a professional to take care of any maintenance issues.

Home Exterior

Do a general walk around your home and carefully inspect the foundation, walls and siding, windows and doors, roofing and chimney, and exterior HVAC unit.

  • Foundation: Check for cracks and loose mortar and concrete. Clean leaves and debris away from foundation.
  • Exterior Walls: Check for loose or damaged siding as well as water damage.
  • Windows & Doors: Check caulking and weather stripping; look for condensation inside double- or triple-glazed windows representing a bad seal.
  • Roofing & Chimney: Visually inspect roofing from ground or ladder. Check for loose and missing shingles as well as bumps in the roof representing loose nails. Check seal at chimney and roof as well as any walls that extend up above lower roof lines. Don’t forget to clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Exterior HVAC: Clear any leaves, pine needles or branches from the exterior HVAC unit and look for oily deposits around the condenser coils which could indicate a coolant leak. Have your HVAC unit professionally serviced to keep it running efficiently through the summer months.

Home Interior

Spring is a great time to do a thorough deep cleaning of your home. Rent a carpet cleaner and thoroughly clean all the carpets in your home to remove settled dust, mites and allergens to make your home cleaner and healthier.

  • General Cleaning: Clean areas such as blinds, cabinets (especially the tops), ceiling fans, window casings, baseboard, draperies, tile grout, furniture, and mattresses which normally don’t get cleaned very often.
  • HVAC: Replace the HVAC filter and inspect your air handler and drain pan. This is one of the most expensive systems in your home to replace so don’t skip this important maintenance step.
  • Plumbing: Check for leaky faucets, clogged drains. Check under cabinets for any leaking pipes or water stains. Check washing machine hoses for cracks, bulges or dampness. Check hot water heater for signs of leaks or corrosion.
  • Attic: Inspect attic for water stains which could indicate a leaky roof. Check for insect infestation as well as mold.

Outdoors

Clean and maintain your outdoor areas such as lawn, decks and patios, outdoor furniture, grill, walkways and driveway so they are ready for use and entertaining.

  • Lawn: Clean up any fallen branches and rake leaves and pine needles off of the grass to keep it healthy. You may want to use an organic herbicide to kill weeds before they start popping up in your lawn in the warmer weather. Make sure to check all faucets and sprinkler systems and take stock of your garden tools and lawn maintenance equipment. This is also a good time to prep garden beds for summer plants.
  • Decks & Patios: Sweep and hose off decks and patios and look for damage. Concrete patios and composite decks can be pressure washed but wood decks should be cleaned with a hose and brush and resealed for the upcoming season.
  • Outdoor Furniture: Uncover or bring out your outdoor furniture and rinse it off with a mild detergent. Check for peeling paint or rust and maintain as required.
  • Grill: Uncover and clean gas and charcoal grills. Check gas hoses and connections and make sure you have propane in the tank. Also check burner jets for clogs and obstructions.
  • Walkways and Driveways: Pressure wash driveways and walkways and check for cracks, especially against foundations. Seal any cracks or hire a foundation specialist who can employ a two-part epoxy injection system that will bond cracks chemically.

Once you’ve worked your way through these spring home maintenance tips it’s time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Your clean, healthy, beautiful home is now ready for entertaining and relaxing through the spring and summer months. If you need to spruce up your home’s interior for spring, read our article on 2017 Top Home Trends.

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3 Simple Ways to Make Your Playroom Special Needs Friendly!

April is National Autism Awareness month so out of awareness for all dealing with Autism, we wanted to highlight 3 Simple Ways to Make Your Playroom Special Needs Friendly! Autism is showing up across the US in our children at a rapid rate of 1 in every 68 kids! Currently there is no cure but there are several ways to make your home environment feel super cozy for the most important love ones in your life, your kids!

1. Start by choosing softly colored paint to put on your walls and keep the center of the room open to provide space for exercise items such as a mini trampoline or balancing board or small slide. These items can be used to build muscle tone and provide exercise!

2. Use cozy sitting furniture with soft pillows and thick blankets to provide sensory comfort and perfect opportunities for a good cuddle!

3. In bins or baskets store puzzles, play dough, books, textured items, and your child’s favorite things. This provides time to stimulate the brain, interact socially with your child, and most importantly have fun!

The goal for many parents is to provide a loving and creative environment for your children and with the simple tips above your playroom can be extremely special! Our Beaufort Craftsman floor plan offers lots of space for a growing family and includes a guest suite that can easily be used as a playroom. View our floor plan photo galleries to see additional homes we offer.

Also follow us on Pinterest to check out our boards Child Bedroom Ideas and Playroom Ideas!

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The Total Cost of A One Percent Interest Rate Increase May Shock You

With the current 30-year fixed home mortgage interest rate hovering around 4 percent, many home shoppers are locking in their interest rate before it goes up again. Historically the rates are still very low but it’s a good idea to calculate the cost of even a one percent rise in current rates as the additional cost adds up to a large sum over the life of a 30-year loan.

$250,000

$300,000

$350,000

Interest
Rate

Total Interest

Monthly Payment

Total Interest

Monthly Payment

Total Interest

Monthly Payment

4%

$179,674

$1,194

$215,609

$1,432

$215,543

$1,671

5%

$233,139

$1,342

$279,767

$1,610

$326,395

$1,879

6%

$289,595

$1,499

$347,515

$1,799

$405,434

$2,098

The table above shows the difference in monthly payment amounts as the interest rate goes up from 4 percent to 5 percent and again to 6 percent. But the real eye opener is the difference paid in total interest over the life of the loan. A $300,000 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 5 percent costs $64,158 more than the same mortgage at 4 percent. If the interest rate goes up to 6 percent, the total cost of the loan goes up $131,906 over 30 years.

Most people focus on the monthly mortgage payment amount, but if your mortgage goes up $200 per month, that would equal $72,000 over the life of the loan.

These figures are only approximate, and the final amount of a home mortgage will be determined by additional factors such as credit rating. If you are limited by the amount per month you can pay for your mortgage, then the total cost of the home you can afford to buy goes down considerably as the interest rate goes up.

Bear in mind that you will also need to add your home insurance and property taxes into the equation. Use the McKee Homes New Home Financing page mortgage calculator to get an idea of what your total monthly payments would be for a traditional loan. If you are considering buying a home within the next year or so, it would be a good idea to lock in your interest rate as soon as possible to get more home for a lot less money. If you are not already working with a lender, please contact one of our preferred lenders to find out the best interest rates currently available and get prequalified.

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Top 3 Reasons To Become A First Time Home Buyer in 2017!

Buying a home for the first time is not only the smart thing to do in 2017 but it’s an important part of what most would consider the “American dream”! Let’s setup the scenario for a second. We are on the cusp of the end of the first quarter of the year already! We have officially elected a new President and the economy appears to have rebounded. You’re finally working a job that doesn’t require a Ramen noodle lifestyle only (love Ramen by the way). Your apartment is feeling cramped and you are looking for that next big purchase! With the right financial preparation and tools, purchasing a home can be the beginning of long-term wealth building, with your mortgage payment possibly lower than what you are currently paying for rent. With a fixed-rate mortgage, your payment will not go up which isn’t true with rent which seems to go up a little each year.

Check out the top 3 reasons to become a first time home buyer in 2017!

1. Mortgage Rates are still very good

Currently mortgage rates are still sitting at about 4%. Although they are not as low as they have been in previous months they are still historically low with rates going up to as high as 10% in 2006. Locking yourself into a low rate now would definitely be beneficial!

2. Down payments are low

Currently down payments are ranging from 1%-3% which is obtainable on most budgets. There are even first time home buyer credits that can assist you with your down payment or take care of your down payment completely. FHA, VA and USDA loans often have no-money-down options as well.

3. Decorate your home exactly the way you want!

Owning your home gives you the flexibility of decorating however you want. Maybe making that one room entirely purple like you imagined as a kid, or a complete gallery wall of family photos! Buying your own home allows you that flexibility which renting does not.
These are just the top 3 reasons to become a first time home buyer in 2017 but there are many more. To find the perfect neighborhood and view move-in ready homes, please visit our Find A Home web page.

Feel free to share this article and follow us!

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What Is A HECM Loan?

If you are close to retirement age and have been looking into downsizing your home or various refinance options to increase financial stability, you may have come across something called a HECM loan. So, exactly what is a HECM loan?

The HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) for Purchase loan option is for homebuyers who are age 62 or older. HECM is a type of Reverse Mortgage that allows the homebuyer to purchase their dream home without making any monthly payments. Depending on the buyer’s age, they will need to provide a down payment of anywhere from 35-50% of the purchase price and never make another mortgage payment for as long as they live in the home. There is also a refinancing option for those who wish to use the HECM loan program but want to stay in their current home.

Some advantages of a HECM loan over a traditional 30 year mortgage or paying cash are:

  • Compared to traditional financing, you can increase your income each month by not having to make a mortgage payment.
  • Under many circumstances, you don’t have to wait until your current home sells to use the program.
  • Purchase your next home without depleting a large portion of your life savings.
  • Interest gets added to loan balance.
  • Closing costs are included in the mortgage.
  • The HECM is the only program that if the home ever sells for less than the loan balance, neither the borrower nor the estate is responsible for paying the difference.
  • Use money saved from no monthly mortgage payments to invest, travel, spend on family, or any unexpected expenses.
  • Similar to paying cash, you are only responsible for paying property taxes, insurance, and any homeowner association fees, as well as maintain the property. However, with paying cash, you would put more money upfront for the same benefits as the HECM for Purchase.

What are the qualifications for a HECM loan?

  • You or your spouse must be 62 or older.
  • The home you are purchasing must be your primary residence.
  • Per HUD guidelines, down payment funds must come from your verified assets, including, but not limited to traditional bank accounts, investments, 401K, CD’s, money market account, money made from sale of current home, or a gift.

What types of homes are eligible for the HECM for Purchase program?

  • Single Family Home (existing or new construction)
  • Condo
  • PUD (Planned Unit Development)

What are the homeowner responsibilities?

There are only a few items you will need to take care of once you move into your new home after closing. These include:

  • Property Taxes
  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Flood Insurance (if applicable)
  • Homeowners Association Dues (if applicable)
  • General maintenance of the home

Other advantages of the HECM for Purchase program include:

  • Asset protection
  • Independent HUD counseling
  • Title to home stays in borrower’s name
  • No pre-payment penalty
  • No maturity date
  • You can stay in your home until the last borrower vacates

Each person’s financial and life situations are different so it’s a good idea to investigate all your options before choosing your next mortgage. If you are interested in learning more about the HECM for Purchase program, ask your lender if they offer HECM loans and have them go over the advantages and disadvantages of HECM versus other types of mortgages with you.

If you are interested in using the HECM for Purchase program to purchase a McKee home, please contact us at 910-672-7296 for more information or to set up an appointment to go over the program, answer any question you may have and find out what you can expect during the entire loan process.

If you are thinking about down-sizing and looking for a single-story or ranch-style home for ‘aging in place’, please visit our single story homes web page for floor plan and neighborhood information.

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2017 Top Home Trends

2017 Top Home Trends
By Miriam Bornstein

Your favorite seat in the house may be that worn out, bargain-priced love seat you scored at a local estate sale, but the faded and unfashionable piece might have you debating a replacement. So when do you bite the bullet and revamp your décor? Keeping up with home-design trends is one way to find inspiration for a fresh style. If you’re not quite ready to ditch that sofa, consider revamping your living room with some minor upgrades that will keep you on-trend.

Here’s what’s in — and what’s out — for home trends in 2017.

Velvet

2017 Top Home Trends - Velvet

Source: Lukas Machnik on Zillow Digs®

Add an instant elements of luxury by incorporating velvet. Upholstery, pillows and curtains are popular ways to layer texture throughout multiple rooms of your house. This soft, forgiving material is especially striking in dark blue, rose and green hues. If you’re hesitant about purchasing a large velvet piece of furniture, consider starting small with accessories. Try swapping velvet pillows during the fall and winter months to add a cozy texture in your living room, or buy a velvet ottoman to create stylish extra seating for guests.

Jewel Colors

2017 Top Home Trends - Jewel Colors

Source: Lora Coburn on Zillow Digs®

Amethysts, sapphires and pearls are glamourous when worn as jewelry, but jewel tones are equally stunning on your walls — and they’re gaining popularity for the richness and depth they add to a room. A large room painted in emerald green or plum can make your space feel more intimate, while applying a similar jewel hue to an accent wall in a smaller area, like an entryway, helps it appear lively. If you consider yourself the ultimate décor trendsetter, combine jewel tones with Pantone’s color of the year: Greenery. A topaz statement piece coupled with shades of green or even live plants creates a relaxing ambience.

Marble Surfaces

2017 Top Home Trends - Marble Surfaces

Source: Jamie Herzlinger on Zillow Digs®

 

Marble countertops are a staple in many homes thanks to their durability, versatility and neutral palette. For those looking to incorporate marble without committing to a major resurfacing project, try decorating your living room with stylish marble accents such as coasters, a tray to hold your remotes, candles or bookends. Marble looks especially striking when paired with mid-century modern or modern-style décor, so keep these two architectural styles in mind when dressing up your space.

Built-In Bars

2017 Top Home Trends - Built-In Bars

Source: McKee Homes

Built-in bars are on-trend for 2017, providing a more permanent solution for those who enjoy entertaining at home. However, if you like the mobility of a bar cart, you can still create the look of a permanent built-in bar by adding horizontal shelves above the bar cart to store barware, liquor and recipe books. This alternative is also accommodating to renters that don’t have the same customization flexibility as homeowners.

What’s Out?

  • Overly industrial furniture that’s more about fashion than practical function.
  • Cool gray tones that lack warmth. Opt for punchy jewel hues instead.
  • Quote art is finally old news, even if their messages are inspiring.

If you are looking for a few ways to refresh your space, consider any of these trends to complement your current home furnishings without replacing your favorite pieces. Or, go big by swapping that worn love seat with a sapphire-blue velvet sofa. Check out previous trend reports to get more inspiration and style guidance.

 

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3 Biggest Obstacles Facing First Time Homebuyers

First time homebuyers could make up over 50 percent of all buyers in 2017 with over 60 percent of borrowers under the age of 35. In other words, millennials are poised to be the largest demographic in the housing market this year if they can overcome a few obstacles.

The 3 biggest obstacles facing first time homebuyers in 2017 are affordability, availability and down payment.

Affordability was an issue for many first time homebuyers in 2016 and it will continue to be a problem in 2017 with housing prices continuing to rise. Home prices have continued to rise year-over-year since 2012 and are up 40 percent from 2011 according to the NAHB Housing Opportunity Index.

While the S&P Dow Jones reported home prices climbed at more than twice the rate of inflation in 2016, Zillow and CoreLogic predict home values will rise between 3.6 percent and 5 percent in 2017, with some areas seeing double-digit growth.

Availability of affordable housing is another ongoing issue for first time homebuyers. While new housing starts are up, builders struggle with labor shortages and lack of developed lots. The number of construction workers in housing this year is 40 percent lower than what it was 10 years ago, according to industry research firm Redfin.

With fewer houses available to meet the growing demand in many areas, first time homebuyers may not have as many choices as they did a few years ago, or even last year.

Down payment for a new home continues to be an issue for many new homebuyers, especially if the cost of new homes continues to go up. Five percent of the cost of a home a couple years ago may not be enough for a down payment in 2017.

With the interest rate rising as well, monthly payments for new homes in 2017 are likely to be higher than the same houses in 2016. Fortunately there are loan programs available for first time homebuyers with low-downpayment options as well as 100 percent financing.

McKee Homes is committed to helping first time homebuyers overcome all of these obstacles and more in their path to home ownership. We are developing many new neighborhoods geared toward first time homebuyers with smaller, affordable new homes. These homes have our beautifully designed floor plans with highly functional features and options as well as our 2-10 Homebuyers Warranty program that protects your investment for up to 10 years.

Whether you want to live in the Fayetteville, Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen, Raleigh and Wilmington areas of North Carolina, we have beautiful, affordable new homes available as well as preferred lenders that will work with you to make sure you get the right mortgage to make your dream of owning a new home come true.

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Lanvale Forest New Home Community in Leland, NC

Lanvale Forest by McKee Homes is a charming community of new homes that boast both quality and value.

Lanvale Forest is nestled in the heart of North Brunswick County only minutes from Downtown Wilmington. The Community offers a pool and bath house, sidewalks and street lights.  Enjoy living near Wilmington with the lower cost of living & taxes that are associated with the town of Leland.  Leland is a new, up and coming area that gives residents the convenience of proximity to Wilmington while choosing from a variety of beaches in either Brunswick or New Hanover County.

Lanvale Forest Video

With 1,300-2,400 square feet homes starting in the mid $100’s just a short drive from downtown Wilmington and some of the best beaches in the area, it’s easy to understand why Lanvale Forest is such a popular community.

The Leland/Wilmington area is a fantastic place to explore with your family and show off to visiting guests. From strolling brick-lined streets to splashing in the sea at Wrightsville Beach, there’s something for everyone. There’s also Battleship North Carolina – a time capsule of 70-year-old naval history for you to explore. And Middle Sound Marina is a beautiful, hassle-free place to launch your boat.

After a day of work or play, come home to the tranquil streets of Lanvale Forest. The community has its own private pool and bathhouse for splashing with the kids and catching up with the neighbors.

Elegant home exteriors give a welcoming first impression, with charming entries and professional landscaping. Step inside and you’ll find large, spacious layouts with designer details such as decorative light fixtures, cottage-style arched doors, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.

From the beach life to a quiet haven, have it all at Lanvale Forest by McKee Homes – a place your family can grow for years.

Location: Old Forest Dr NE, Leland, NC 28451

Price Range: From the high $100’s
Sq.Ft. Range: 1,300-2,400 Sq.Ft.
Schools:
Elementary School: Town Creek
Middle School: Leland
High School: N. Brunswick

Amenities: Pool and pool house

Lanvale Forest Location Map
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Legacy Lakes Golf Club Community in Aberdeen, NC

As you enter the stunning Legacy Lakes golf club community in Aberdeen, NC you realize why so many have decided to call it home. Legacy Lakes is nestled in the heart of the Sandhills and provides easy access to all that this wonderful area has to offer. Legacy Lakes is just a short distance from downtown Southern Pines and The Village of Pinehurst. Both towns are charming, historic areas that feature local shops, arts and many restaurants. Legacy Lakes is also a short commute to Ft. Bragg and Camp Mackall, making it a unique place to call home for our local service members.

Watch Video to see amenities and homes in Legacy Lakes.

Legacy Lakes Video

Here at Legacy Lakes you have all the amenities at your fingertips. Panoramic views of the Legacy Links golf course is just one of the perks of living in a golf course community. The Sandhills region of North Carolina is a golf mecca featuring over 40 championship courses. Right here inside Legacy Lakes there is a 4.5 star, Jack Nicklaus Design Group golf course that has ranked one of GolfWorld’s top 25 public courses. If golf is not your thing, don’t worry! We have a wonderful clubhouse, pool, fitness center, Pilates studio and 6-clay tennis courts for you to enjoy.

McKee Homes features two different sections of homes inside Legacy Lakes. We offer single family homes in the patio-lot section with sizes ranging from 1,700-3,600 square feet and our newest project, The Preserve at Legacy Lakes, features 20-golf front lots that will feature single story homes geared to the active adult lifestyle with sweeping views of the 2nd and 3rd holes of The Legacy Links golf course.

No matter what cycle of life you are in, McKee Homes offers a comfortable, affordable, home for you to enjoy inside Legacy Lakes. Many of the residents gather for special events hosted by the HOA throughout the year, to include a movie night by the pool, live music on the activity lawn and the annual holiday party at the clubhouse. Homeowners even host their own residents’ happy hour at the clubhouse once a month.

Amenities

  • Golf-Course: Nicklaus Design Legacy Golf Links
  • Clubhouse: Clubhouse with fitness center
  • Tennis: 6 lighted clay courts
  • Pool: Ourtdoor Swimming pool
  • Nature: 3 natural lakes and walking trails

Model Home Hours
Mon, Tue, Fri, Sat: 11 am ─ 5 pm
Sun: 12 pm ─ 5 pm
Wed, Thu: By Appointment Only

legacy lakes map

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Will interest rates continue to rise in 2017?

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose by just over a quarter of a percent recently to around 4 percent. That’s the largest one-week increase in over three years. What does that mean for home buyers? Will interest rates continue to rise in 2017?

Even though the rate hike has many home shoppers hitting the pause button on signing up for a new home mortgage, it’s important to remember that the rates are still at an historic low. In case you’re a Millennial and don’t remember interest rates above 7 or 8 percent, the rates in the 1980’s were in the teens. Although they’ve been historically low for the last six years, you have to go back 60 years or more to find interest rates below five percent before 2010. I got my first mortgage in 1992 and was thrilled to get 9.9 percent on a fixed rate loan. I would have killed for 4 percent.

Will interest rates continue to rise in 2017? The most likely answer is yes, but that’s not necessarily a bad sign. Generally speaking when the economy is strong the interest rates go higher, and when times are economically tough, the Fed lowers the rate in order to make it easier for consumers and businesses to borrow and spend, which pumps more money into the economy to help it recover.

So, if you are considering buying a new home in 2017, should you buy or should you wait? Most mortgage advisors would recommend locking in your rate as soon as possible to get the best rate.  It’s important to remember that your credit score is probably a much larger determining factor in what rate you might pay when getting a mortgage than the benchmark interest rate at this point. So, make sure to manage your credit rating and don’t make any large purchases on your credit cards or buy a new car anytime soon if you plan on buying a house this year.

McKee Homes works with a few mortgage companies which we refer to as our preferred lenders. These companies all provide excellent customer service and are going to give our homebuyers the best rates so they get a mortgage that works for them. We continue to see very positive survey reviews from our homebuyers in regards to our preferred lenders. In fact we pay all closing costs when buyers use one of our preferred lenders, and to lighten the sting of the interest rate hike, we are even giving our homebuyers free blinds and an upgraded refrigerator on all homes that are currently under construction or move-in ready until March 31, 2017.

For more information on our preferred lenders and our buyer incentives, please visit our Buyer Incentives web page or give us a call at 910-672-7296.