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Buying A Home Online: The Digital Home Buying Process

Just because you have to stay at home during this time, doesn’t mean you should stop the pursuit of your dream home. The concept of buying a home online might be foreign to some, but if you’re in the market for a new home, NOW is still the time to buy (and we’re not saying that just because we’re in the home buying & building industry).

The fact is … home buyer purchasing power is at an all-time high with interest rates at the lowest they’ve been in a decade (and they are expected to decrease even more through May 2020)! If you want to explore this unique opportunity that doesn’t come around often, we’re here to help with buying a home online (or at least starting the process), utilizing our easy-to-use digital tools.

Whether you’re looking for already-built, quick move-in ready homes or available homesites that you can build a new home from the ground up, we’re ready to give you a customized new home buying experience from the comfort of your current home.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Wrong. Let’s break down how this process would work …

Let McKee Homes bring your new home to you …


First, Do Your Homework: Research McKee Homes Neighborhoods & Homes

McKee Homes builds new homes across North Carolina, in markets such as Southern Pines, Fayetteville, Wilmington, Raleigh and surrounding areas. You can find information on all of our communities on McKeeHomesNC.com/Find-A-Home, where you can learn about available homes and homesites, our portfolio of floor plans and features, neighborhood amenities and more.

Since home shopping online can be overwhelming, we have a few digital tools that will help you get clear on exactly what you are looking for:

  • Interactive Design App: You have an idea in your head of what you want in a new home, but don’t know how to bring it to life? Use our Interactive Design App to pick your floor plan, exterior colors, upgrades and more! Designing your new home from the comfort of your couch has never been so easy.
  • 3D Virtual Tours: Walk every single one of our floor plans as if you were in the home, right from your computer. Our interactive video tours allow you to walk through every room in the house with a click of the mouse, so you can experience the floor plan and special details for yourself.
  • Photo Galleries: Professional real estate photographers have captured every detail of each floor plan, which are showcased on our website. We also share photo galleries that feature design ideas for your future kitchen and bathrooms to inspire your inner designer and help you get a feel for what you’d like in your own home.


Try to visualize the long-term picture: an investment today will increase savings in the long run.

We can’t stress this enough … now is the time to buy. Interest rates are at a historic low and are enabling new homeowners to get more house for less at a lower monthly mortgage payment. Long-term this means saving more money for college tuitions, family vacations and retirement.


McKee Homes is here you for you, virtually, every step of the way!

McKee has always offered ways to facilitate the homebuying process electronically – including home tours via video chat, electronic purchase agreements, secure payment process for deposits and text, phone and email correspondence with our Builders, Design Consultants and New Home Sales Agents. Although nothing replaces the joy we get from face-to-face interaction with our new home buyers, we’re happy to be able to offer these virtual capabilities at a time like this. McKee allows homebuyers to tour their future homes virtually (or through a private 1:1 scheduled appointment), ask questions with our sales consultants and loan offers, sign a contract, pay deposits, pick design selections and do final walk-throughs of their homes from the comfort of their current homes. Go To Meeting, Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Houseparty … you pick! We’ve used all of the virtual technologies and are happy to conduct a virtual home tour with your online video chat of choice.

At the end of the day, our sole mission is to match your family with a new home or homesite as quickly, easily and safely as possible. So, we’re here, virtually, ready when you are.

Have peace of mind with our trusted lender, Vision Lending

Getting a home loan for building a new home is not hard, especially digitally. Through Vision Lending’s secure online hub and mobile app, you can get pre-qualified and start your application, calculate payments with a built-in mortgage calculator, view your progress, securely scan and upload documents and easily message your loan officers as you go. Access to our loan officers via text, phone and FaceTime is available, too!

 

Private 1:1 Home Appointments: Our homes are thoroughly cleaned, top to bottom!

Your safety is our top priority, above any home sale. We have gone above and beyond to ensure the sanitation and safety of our homes – hand sanitizers, face masks for builders and trades, additional cleaning measures and strict social distancing rules as recommended by the CDC. As of right now, we are operating “By Appointment Only” for in-person tours where you can schedule a 1:1 private home showing with one of our New Home Consultants. More popular as of right now are our LIVE video home tours that you can book and conduct from any computer or phone.

 

Our home buyers are part of the McKee Family and we take care of family members. Have the comfort of knowing that we are here and doing everything we can to meet your needs, even during these trying times. If you’re ready to take advantage of the low-interest rates or need to move quickly due to work or family, let us know how we can help make your new home dreams come to life!

Feel free to reach out to us on the phone at 910-672-7296 or fill out the short form below!

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Behind-The-Scenes: Designing Your New Home

Meet Elias & Taryn, soon-to-be newlyweds and owners of a brand-new beautiful Brooks European floor plan in our Hanover Reserve Community (Wilmington, NC)! We are following their home buying and building experience from start to finish to give you a real glimpse into designing your new home.

The first part of the home buying process (and the most fun!) after signing a contract: selecting the personal touches that will make your house a home!

When you choose to build a new home with McKee Homes, you get the exciting and unique opportunity to work with our talented Design Consultants to make your dream home come to life. We have two fully-stocked Design Studios conveniently-located in Fayetteville and Leland, NC, housing a variety of selections available to touch, see and experience, including:

  • Carpet samples
  • Exterior finishes, like stone and siding
  • Lighting and plumbing fixtures
  • Kitchen cabinet options
  • Flooring, including kitchen and bath tile, as well as living area hardwood laminate
  • Countertops and backsplash
  • And much more!


So, what’s the custom design process like for Elias and Taryn (and you, too)?

EXTERIOR SELECTIONS

Once you put a contract on a home, your New Home Sales Consultant will review exterior design features with you, including home, shutter and front door colors, siding (vinyl siding or cement-board siding–per neighborhood), trim, windows, and stone.

Distinctive to the European elevation that Elias and Taryn chose, the castle-like façade of this particular home features a blend of architectural elements including stone for added texture, romantic arches, charming window shutters and graceful, yet grand front porch columns that give, all of which they were able to personalize themselves.

Pictured: Brooks European Floor Plan. Optional feature: Third-car garage.

INTERIOR SELECTIONS

Once the exterior characteristics of the home are chosen, home buyers will attend a showing at one of our Design Studios. A Design Consultant will offer you drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and light appetizers and give you an in-depth tour of the entire design studio, educating you on the available design selections that come both standard and as upgrades for your specific floor plan. Then, the Design Consultant will guide you through selecting your home customization’s, including but not limited to:

  • Interior paint color
  • Maple cabinets: with a variety of colors and styles to personalize your bathrooms and kitchen
  • Countertops: a selection of granite and quartz colors, standard kitchen sinks (50/50 or 60/40 stainless steel sinks) or sink options to include single basin, apron front stainless steel or white farm house.
  • Cabinet hardware: included in our Autograph series, or an option that can be added to the Heritage Series
  • Kitchen backsplash: a variety of colors and styles that are continually updated to follow current trends
  • Cultured marble: for bathroom countertops
  • Flooring: a variety of laminate, carpet, vinyl, tile or upgraded engineered hardwood (depends on neighborhood included features)
  • Carpet pad: additional options or included carpet pad
  • Lighting: included neighborhood lighting or other options to fit your style
  • Plumbing fixtures: kitchen and baths in a variety of finishes/styles
  • Appliances: Whirlpool packages, or individual Whirlpool or Kitchen Aid Pro appliances

“They were a very fun couple and their Selections were right on trend!” said Lara Jimerson, Senior Design Consultant, of the couple. “Like a white kitchen with quartz and gray marble back splash and gray cabinets in the bathrooms with a tiled master bath.”

“Our experience was amazing. Lara was so helpful in both accommodating our decisions and giving us just the right amount of input to make this our dream home,” said Elias and Taryn. “This is our first home we have ever purchased and the Design Studio was one of the best parts. Lara was so welcoming and willing to help. She even stayed later since we were a little indecisive in making our decisions! She was so patient with us and we highly recommend her and McKee Homes to all future homeowners.”

It’s our experienced Design Consultants job to make the selections appointment both fun and stress-free! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, be sure to check out our 10 Tips for New Home Selections.


Click images below to get a sneak peak into both of our Design Studios before you come: 

Designing Your New Home

Design Studio Fayetteville, NC

 

Designing Your New Home

Design Studio Leland, NC

To continue to follow Elias and Taryn’s home build, be sure to tune into our Facebook and Instagram pages for regular updates!

If you’re interested in learning more about designing your dream home or the home buying process in general, feel free to fill out the form below or call one of our New Home Specialists at 910-672-7296.

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16 Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill

Do you know that you can lower your energy bill by as much as 25% with only minimal tweaks to your everyday use? With the heat pumping on overdrive, the winter months can make the cost of your utilities skyrocket. That’s why we’re giving you our top 16 tips to lower your energy bill, from lighting, water, heating and cooling, and everything in between.

Heating and cooling

Home heating and cooling are 10 of the biggest culprits behind hefty utility bills — and the best places to look for cost-cutting opportunities.

  1. Watch your thermostat. When you’re asleep or away from home, set your thermostat back 10 degrees. You can cut your annual heat and cooling costs by an estimated 10% by doing this for just eight hours. You may also want to think about upgrading from a conventional to an energy-efficient smart thermostat, which can save you up to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. They can also adapt to your temperature preferences and adjust your settings depending on when you’re home and when you’re away.
  2. Check seals on windows, doors and appliances: Make sure your fridge and freezer are well sealed to keep the cold air where it belongs. Same goes for your doors and windows. A bad seal allows energy to seep out, draining your wallet in the process. Also consider installing Low-E windows (one of McKee Homes staple energy-saving home features). Low-E windows help save energy by reflecting harmful UV rays from the outside of the home and reflecting radiant heat back into the room. This keeps the home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  3. Repair leaky heating ventilation and air conditioning ducts: If the ducts are poorly sealed or insulated, they are likely hiking up your energy bill significantly. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces are known to increase your heating and cooling bill by hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.

    What’s the purpose of the ducts? As one of the most important systems in your home, they carry the air from your home’s furnace or heat pump and central air conditioner to rooms throughout your house.Insulate or seal ducts, a very cost-effective process, in order to increase your system’s efficiency.

  4. Give your thermostat a nudge: Set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home. Doing so for eight hours can lower your annual heating and cooling costs by around 10%. A programmable thermostat will do the work for you.
  5. Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature: To make your refrigerator and freezer work less hard to maintain the internal temperature, set your fridge temp to 38 degrees and your freezer to 5 degrees. And don’t worry, your food will still stay fresh at these temperatures.

Water

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, hot water use comes in second on the list of highest utility expense. Try cutting back your hot water usage in the following ways:

  1. Stick to warm or cold water when doing laundry
  2. Cut 2 minutes of your shower: Just this little amount can trim your water usage by 10 gallons a month.
  3. Install an efficient shower head: The Environmental Protection Agency says to look for one with the WaterSense label, which can reduce your water usage by close to 3,000 gallons a year.
  4. Be mindful of leaky faucets: Although the drip is slow, it adds up.
  5. Use energyefficient appliances: Buy energy efficient versions of the appliances you use most often: refrigerator, washer, dishwasher and water heater, for long-term savings. A normal dishwater uses 10+ gallons of water during one cycle compared to the new Energy Star label dishwashers that only allow 6 gallons at most to run.
  6. Adjust temperature of water heater: Lower your water heater temperate to 120 degrees (only 20 degrees lower than normal) to reduce your water heating costs by 10% or more. Remember to turn your water heater to the lowest setting when you’re away from home to max out your savings.

Power and lighting

Allowing lights and electronics to run accounts for an estimated 12% of a household’s energy bill.

  1. Educate yourself analyze your home energy usage graphs provided with your monthly bill. Becoming aware of your energy sucks can help you make alterations going forward.
  2. Get an energy audit. On top of educating yourself, request an audit from your energy company. They’ll come out and conduct a thorough inspection, sometimes for free, to identify ways for you to conserve energy.
  3. Use LED bulbs: Using bulbs with the Energy Star seal can save you upwards of $75 per year.
  4. Replace your power strips with smart power strips: Power strips never truly turn off so they are sucking power continuously! By using a smart power strip, the current is cut off to plugged-in electronics when not in use.
  5. Use light dimmers: Set the mood and save electricity all at the same time! By lowering the brightness of your lights, you conserve usage, creating savings in the long run.

 

With these tips, we hope you can lower your energy bill so you can put those savings to more important things, like experiences with family or outfitting your brand-new McKee home 😉