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Electric Heat Pump Benefits

Electric Heat Pump Benefits

Heat pumps are pretty neat as they offer an alternative to running your air conditioner. If your home needs moderate heating or cooling a heat pump is a great alternative because it moves heat from a cool space to warm space, which makes the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer. During the heating season, heat pumps move heat from the cool outdoors into your warm house and during the cooling season, heat pumps move heat from your cool house into the warm outdoors. Because they move heat rather than generate heat, heat pumps can provide equivalent space conditioning at as little as one quarter of the cost of operating conventional heating or cooling appliances.

On average you save $1,000-$2,000 annually according to energy reports. On top of those savings heat pumps come equipped with filter systems so bacteria spores don’t have an opportunity to settle in your home. Heat pumps are extremely efficient in brand new constructions homes so definitely check out McKee Homes to find your next home with the electric heat pump already installed! To see this electric heat pump feature as well as read about all of our other energy-efficient features click here.

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Cost-Efficient Thermostat Temperatures to Save You Money This Summer!

Cost-efficient thermostat temperatures are so important to save you money this summer on your electricity bill! During this time of year with temperatures reaching the high 90s in most areas, thermostat adjustments to keep your home cool and your bill low are necessary. Cooling your home with your air conditioning unit depending on the size, could sky rocket your bill into the high hundreds! Though it is tempting to adjust your thermostat really low during the summer in an effort to cool your home faster, this could actually be counter productive because your unit is working harder and burning more energy. Consistent set temperatures maintain energy output levels and reduces your out-of-pocket cost.

Before you receive your next bill and its causes you to break into a sweat, let me share a couple of cost-efficient thermostat temperature tips below!

  1. If you plan to be away from your home for an extended amount of time during the day (4 hours or more) keep the temperature set at a higher number. Once you arrive back home, adjust the temperature to 78 degrees. Based on your comfort level your thermostat should stay at this temperature throughout the warmer months.
  2.  Use your windows at night, turning off the A/C unit completely which allows the breeze to keep you cool while you are sleep. Also, utilize ceiling fans while you are in the room and then turn them off once you leave. It is unnecessary to leave ceiling fans on when you are no longer in the room as the fans do not keep the room itself cooler but cools the people who are in it.

According to Energy.gov for every degree higher you set your thermostat over 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer you could save six-eight percent off your energy bill per degree! These savings can be used to entertain your family and friends grilling in your backyard! Or a fun-filled water day at the local pool or water park! Making these small adjustments could add up significantly over time. Comment on this post and let me know if these tips would work for you! Also check out all of our available homes today!

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7 Hottest Trends in New Home Design

When you build a new home, you get to pick everything from the homesite your home will be built to the exterior colors and the flooring to the light fixtures and everything in between.  As you consider how you’re going to design your new home, our design team has come up with a list of the seven hottest trends in new home design.

  1. Reviving a classic tile

You can add a bit of pizazz to your new home up by upgrading your kitchen and bathroom backsplashes to subway tile.  These tiles have been around since 1904 when they were used in the first New York subway station.  Subway tile is a great option because it’s easy to clean and the shiny surface reflects light helping to make the surrounding area brighter.  There are many color options available, so you’ll only be limited by your imagination.  You’ll want to consider what color grout to use with these tiles.  For example, white grout makes a charcoal gray tile pop as does a gray grout with white tile.

  1. Getting rid of the tub

In the past, the master bathroom has always had a bathtub and shower combination and more recently it has had a large garden tub with separate shower.  However, now many homebuyers are getting rid of the tub and opting for a larger walk-in shower.  We’ve seen this change happen more frequently as many have expressed they just don’t have the time to soak in a bathtub and would rather use the extra space for a larger shower.

  1. Bigger is better when it comes to tile

Tile has been a popular option for master bathrooms for decades.  We’ve recently seen homebuyers steering towards large-format tiles for the floors and in the shower.  Popular sizes include 12”x24”, 4”x16” and 6”x36”.  These tiles help make bathrooms look larger and can help highlight a room with a contrasting wall color.  You’ll find that larger tiles is easier maintain as there are less grout lines.

  1. Gray, gray and more gray

Gray is all the latest craze in home décor.  As you drive through neighborhoods, you see more and more homes in various shades of gray, but the gray trend doesn’t end there.  We are seeing gray on the walls, cabinets, backsplashes, fireplaces, bath fixtures and more.  This versatile, neutral color can work with just about any style, whether old world, modern, traditional or contemporary.  There are many shades to choose from as this color ranges from a light silver to a dark charcoal color.  If you enjoy changing up your décor, gray could prove to be a great option as a little change to an accent color can change the feel of a whole room.

  1. And the gray continues…

One of hot trends for the kitchen is gray cabinets. Gray is that neutral that looks good with just about everything, from your laminate floors to a colorful wall paint.  You will be happy with your choice to go gray.  You will want to think about the size of your space when deciding on gray cabinets.  If your space is small you may want a lighter gray as a darker gray would make your kitchen look smaller.  Another consideration is whether or not to have your cabinets painted gray or stained gray as you get different effects each option.

  1. A cook’s kitchen

The kitchen is the main gathering place in most homes.  Whether you are cooking a weeknight dinner or for a holiday gathering, the kitchen sees a lot of use.  Many homebuyers have been upgrading their kitchens to deluxe kitchens.  They enjoy having the stove cooktop with separate built-in double wall ovens.  For multi-generational or larger families, the double oven is an especially nice feature to have.

  1. An extension of your home…outdoors

Over the past few years, we’ve seen homebuyers investing more in their backyards to create outdoor extensions of their new homes.  These outdoor spaces have become a cherished part of the home for many as little time off doesn’t allow for many getaways and these spaces allow them the relaxing retreats they desire.  The most popular outdoor living trends we have seen are screened-in covered porches, stone fireplaces, wiring for surround sound systems and outdoor kitchens.

Designing your new home is an exciting process and only gets more exciting as you see everything coming together.  However, it can sometimes be overwhelming and that’s when an experienced new home design team is so important.  McKee Homes has highly skilled team members dedicated to creating the best home building and buying experience possible in Eastern North Carolina.  Communities we are actively involved and building in include Fayetteville, Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen, Raleigh and Wilmington, NC.  Our homes feature a variety of desirable floor plans, and you can even design your new home in our interactive design app.

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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, Southern Pines and Aberdeen, 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 Common Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make with New Construction

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 first time home buyer mistakes made 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, 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, Southern Pines and Aberdeen, 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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Odd Shaped Window Covering Options

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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5 Things To Do To Improve Your Credit Score Before Buying a New Home

The home buying process begins long before your start looking at new home listings online. One of the first steps in the home buying process is getting a handle on your finances and understanding your credit. Here are five things to do to improve your credit score before buying a new home.

5 Things to do to Improve Your Credit Score

  1. Know what’s on your credit report.
    When was the last time you checked your credit report? If it hasn’t been in the last year, then you could be missing something that could be hurting your credit score. Every year, you can get your credit report, for free, from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian by going to annualcreditreport.com. While this doesn’t provide you with your credit score, it does show you what the lenders see.
  1. Identify and fix any errors.
    Once you’ve reviewed your credit report with a fine-toothed comb, you need to start fixing any errors. On each of the credit bureau websites there are step-by-step instructions on how to dispute errors, and your credit report will have instructions as well. When contacting the credit bureaus, keep detailed notes on what you submit to them and copies of any documents.
  1. Always be on time.
    It may seem like commonsense but if you’re looking to increase your credit score pay your bills on time every month and don’t miss a payment. Paying more than the minimum balance, even if it’s just a little more, looks good to the lenders. It also helps you pay your bills off faster.
  1. Pay off your credit cards, but don’t close them.
    Paying off your credit cards is a great way to lower your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Every lender has different standards for DTI ratios, but according to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a DTI of 43% is, in many cases, the highest ratio a borrower can have and still qualify for a mortgage.
  1. Be smart with new and old lines of credit.
    If you are under contract to buy a new home, opening up new lines of credit or making any large charges on your current credit card can negatively alter your DTI. This makes you look risky to lenders. If you are building a new home, it can sometimes be a six-month or longer process, so be sure to plan ahead. It is recommended to wait until after closing to buy a new car, new furniture or book that all-inclusive vacation. If you have any thing that comes up before closing consult your lender. While not opening new lines of credit is important, keeping old lines of credit open is advised. These old lines of credit show your credit history and closing them could change your DTI for the worse.

Source: Forbes.com; HGTV.com

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Should A Veteran Always Use A VA Loan?

The VA loan program is a great benefit for veterans and with 21 million VA home loans it seems like a no-brainer that veterans would take advantage of this benefit. But should a veteran always use a VA loan? The answer is no, but let me explain.

There are many reasons to use the VA loan program. One of the biggest perks of this program is the no down payment. The VA does not issue the loans but they are guaranteed by the government which gives lenders confidence in issuing the loans.

  • You don’t have to have a down payment as long as your loan doesn’t exceed $417,000.
  • Lower closing costs as the VA restricts the types of closing costs a veteran can pay.
  • No monthly mortgage insurance premiums like you find with other loan programs.
  • VA loans also allow for those with higher debt ratios and lower credit scores to qualify for loans.

Now all this may make you wonder, well why wouldn’t I want to use a VA loan? Well there are a few things that may make you consider not using a VA loan.

  • If you’re buying a fixer-upper home, you won’t be able to use a VA loan as they are mainly for “move-in ready” homes.
  • While you can reuse a VA loan, you can’t get another VA loan before you pay the other one off.
  • If the home you’re buying isn’t going to be your primary residence then you’ll need to consider another loan program.
  • There is a limit on VA loan co-borrowers who are not a spouse or another veteran.
  • If you have a 20% or larger down payment it may be wise to consider not using a VA loan to avoid the VA funding fee.

So when you start your home search it would be a good idea to check into all of your home loan options. Knowing what’s available to you can save you time and money, and even if you are a veteran, you may not always want to use a VA loan.

Source: Marketwatch.com; VeteransUnited.com; Military.com

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Should I Buy a New Home Now or Later?

If you’re like many people, you may be asking yourself should I buy a new home now or later? While there are many things to consider when asking this question, here are a few things to get you started:

  • Are you in a good place financially?
  • Are you ready to be your own landlord?
  • Are you committed to staying in one place?

If you answered yes to these questions then you may be ready to buy a home. The next question you may ask yourself is should I buy now or later? With interest rates still at all time lows, that may sway your opinion. Maybe, knowing that Freddie Mac predicts that by January 2017 interest rates will rise to 4.5% or that CoreLogic predicts that home prices will increase by 5.5% over the next year may help make your decision to begin the home search now. If you wait until next year, that $250,000 budget you have would need to increase by $13,750 to get the same home.

Should I Buy a New Home Now or Later

If you have questions about the home buying process or what McKee Homes has to offer, contact us today and we would be happy to answer your questions.

Additional Source: Forbes.com

 

Planning for Your Move-Part 4 (Moving Day)

Moving 101

Planning For Your Move, Part 4
by Bob and Sue Russo

Moving day is finally here. You’ve gathered boxes, made lists, sorted items and packed a bag. But did you remember what to put in the bag?

From the video you can tell that Bob thought barbecue-stained beer shirts with holes in them were the way to go. Maybe he just planned to party. We also failed on the moving company-inventory process or Bob’s shirts would have made it to our new home!

The inventory process I am referring to can be tedious and time consuming, but it is well worth the effort.

Inventory Process When Using a Moving Company-

  1. The moving company places a numbered tag on everything that’s being moved (boxes, furniture, lamps…)
  2. The moving company creates an inventory list of every item going into their van.
  3. When the van gets to your new home, you will be handed the inventory list.
  4. You will check off the items as the movers bring them into your new home.
  5. Check the inventory list to be sure all items are accounted for.
  6. Sign receipt indicating that all items are in your new home, only if all items are accounted for.

When you signed the contract with the moving company, you had a choice of getting “full replacement value” or a “flat rate by weight replacement value.” The “flat rate by weight” replacement-moving fee will be quite a bit cheaper. If you do choose this option and your item gets lost, you will be reimbursed by the weight of the item, not its actual value. We have always chosen this option and historically it has worked out for us, however our last move from Florida back to North Carolina did not go so well. We had both, a long distance moving company and many willing family members to help unpack in our new home. The “inventory” person changed several times and one of us (Bob) signed off on the inventory as being okay. We lost several sentimental items as well as many decorative pieces…oh and as Bob mentioned, he doesn’t have any summer tee shirts. Remember, checking inventory and making sure furniture is placed in the right room are extremely important. It helps to have one “go to” person for each job.

If you have decided to make the move without the help of a moving company, I hope you have some help! If you have followed the process in Parts1-3 of the Planning Your Move Series, you have labeled each box with its contents and location (for example grandma’s clothes/upstairs room to the right). Doing this will ensure everyone knows where to place each box and will eliminate hearing, “where does this go?” over and over. Keep the stronger people moving boxes and let the other people start unpacking. We do the kitchen first and work from there.

Don’t forget to stop by the store on your way to your new home and pick up some food for your helpers. Deli meat, chips, cookies, paper plates, napkins and liquid refreshments will do nicely. As a courtesy, we also provide food and beverage for the professional movers.

No matter how careful everyone is. Moving boxes and furniture into a home may cause scuff marks on your walls or baseboards. A Magic Eraser or the generic version will do the trick!

Don’t worry if you got a little ding in your wall. We’ll tell you how to fix that later.

You’ve got this! Enjoy your new home! Bob and Sue