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Grand Opening: The McKee Homes Design Studio of Leland, NC

McKee Homes is proud to announce the grand opening of its Leland, NC Design Studio!

McKee Design Studio - Leland, NC

McKee Design Studio – Leland, NC. Located in Harrington Square.

Mayor of Leland Cuts Ribbon at McKee Design Studio Grand Opening

Mayor of Leland Cuts Ribbon at McKee Design Studio Grand Opening

To kick off the opening of the design studio, McKee Homes hosted a fun grand opening event at its new location. Harrington Square is a luxury residential and commercial development in Leland NC, located just 5 miles from Wilmington’s downtown waterfront. Dozens of guests filled the 2,125 sq. ft  space for a much anticipated first look at the unique studio. The Town of Leland’s mayor, Brenda Bozeman, was on site to commemorate the occasion by cutting the grand opening ribbon.

The theme of the evening was “Around the World”, with each area of the design studio having tasting stations set with a culinary theme from different areas of the world. As guests traveled around the studio, they were able to touch, see, and feel products and materials that are custom selections for McKee’s new homes. The open layout of the studio allowed guests to flow easily from one section to another while pausing to admire the coffee bar and stone wall electric fireplace. Many marveled at the variety of custom selections showcased: trendy navy and gray cabinet finishes, luxury stainless steel appliances, farmhouse sinks, and a glass vent hood. The wide selection of flooring, counter tops, backsplashes, and plumbing & cabinet fixtures impressed many guests who commented that there were so many options available.

Of course, the studio could not have been completed without McKee Homes’ expert design consultants. The team carefully considered each selection option and worked to design a space that would put customers at ease. While there are many options on display, the amount of selection doesn’t feel overwhelming. Rather, guests appeared delighted at the ability to compare so many options and see life size product.

Location

The new Leland design studio services all of McKee’s coastal NC neighborhoods to include Lanvale Forest, Winds Harbor, Clay Crossing, Cameron Trace, and Hanover Reserve. While the comfort and luxury of the design studio make the custom design process an enjoyable experience, it’s the location that is truly convenient. Now coastal NC customers are just a short drive from McKee’s one stop shop for custom selections. The design studio is open, and expert design consultants are available! Call today to schedule an appointment and begin planning the home of your dreams.

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How does a government shutdown affect a new home mortgage loan?

The longest government shutdown on record has just ended but it could be reinstated within weeks. If you are in the process of securing a mortgage loan or plan on getting a mortgage loan soon, you can find useful information in this article to help you navigate through the home buying process during a government shutdown.

Conventional Loans

A government shutdown does not stop the loan process for the majority of new mortgages. Most mortgages are “conventional loans”, meaning the federal government is not the lender. Conventional loans include Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) loans. While federal agencies back qualified lenders for these loans in the event a borrower defaults, the federal government is not the lender. Conventional or not, some services needed to complete underwriting for mortgage loans is performed by federal agencies. During a government shutdown this could cause delays in closings but not postpone them indefinitely.

For a small amount of loans, such as direct loans issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the federal government acts as the lender. In these instances, all loan processes are completed by federal agencies. As a result, new USDA mortgage loans (direct and guaranteed) are not  issued during a shutdown. For individuals in the middle of the underwriting process with a USDA loan, there are many unknowns during a shutdown.

Flood insurance

When buying a new home subjects such as flood insurance and the federal government don’t immediately spring to mind. However, if a new home is in a high-risk flood zone (also known as a Special Flood Hazard Area) flood insurance protection is often required for the mortgage loan. For instance, FHA loans require flood insurance for homes located in these areas. Additionally, mortgage lenders have the burden of determining if coverage is required. As a precaution, some lenders require flood insurance in moderate or low risk areas. This affects the new mortgage process because most flood insurance is issued through the National Flood Insurance Program, which is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Just days before the shutdown began, FEMA announced it would not reauthorize use of the NFIP. However, on Dec. 21, 2018 the agency formally passed legislation to extend the NFIP through May 31, 2019.

IRS services and income verification

Most mortgage lenders submit an income verification request through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to verify income and give the lender confidence in the buyer’s purchasing power. The Income Verification Express Service (IVES) of the IRS was suspended temporarily in the early days of the shutdown, but was reinstated on January 7, 2019. A period of inactivity created a backlog of requests and cause delays in underwriting while lenders wait for income verification. This particularly affects loan seekers who are self-employed and without access to pay stubs or W-2 forms.

Federal Employees

The shutdown and furlough of federal employees means some new home buyers will not have the proof of income needed to complete a new mortgage loan. Fortunately, lenders eager to work with these employees can create solutions to help buyers in need.  For instance, in lieu of IRS income verification, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are offering a two-month mortgage payment cash reserve requirement. This allows buyers to skip income verification if they have enough cash reserves to cover two months of mortgage costs. Many other lenders are offering unique solutions, happy to answer questions regarding these options, and want to help alleviate stress surrounding a new home purchase during a shutdown.

In conclusion, a government shut down is unlikely to completely halt the new mortgage loan process, but there may be delays. While closing dates may be pushed back, the underwriting process is not at a standstill and will continue to function; though more slowly than normal. Additionally, lending options exist for federal employees and lenders are eager to assist in the process and answer questions.

 

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Granite or Quartz Counter Top

Granite and quartz counter-tops consistently rank as a top pick for new home buyer upgrades. It’s no wonder why; quartz and granite counter-tops add an element of luxury and style to any space. Quartz and granite run neck and neck in terms of popularity and price. Both are attractive, durable, and stain resistant. However, each has its own unique benefits that can determine which is best for a new home.

How are they made?

The main difference between quartz and granite composition; quartz counter-top material is ‘man-made’ while granite is organic.

Quartz is a naturally hard mineral and ranks at a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. When this rock is combined with resins and polymers to create a quartz slab for a counter, the result is a material comprised of 90% quartz. The process and materials used in making quartz counter tops qualify it as a ‘manufactured’ material.

In contrast, granite is a 100% natural and mined from quarries. Slightly less hard than natural quartz, granite requires mining, cutting, and polishing for use as a counter-top.

Color Options and Availability

Granite is a composite of mostly of quartz, mica, and feldspar. These different minerals give granite its signature appearance of varying colors and textures. Granite is available in a wide array colors that feel natural, eye catching, and stylish. This look is unique to granite; quartz is beautiful but doesn’t mimic granite’s trademark speckles and veining.

Regardless, quartz also offers many color options. Quartz can’t duplicate the look of granite, but can be pigmented and customized to suit a new home buyer’s desire. Additionally, the pigment in a quartz counter-top is more consistent than in granite. While a new home buyer might search many suppliers for a granite to suit their size and color needs, quartz is readily available.

Because granite is naturally occurring, the size and shape of available slabs isn’t predictable. This means a slab might be cut in uneven sizes in order to make it work for a specific counter. For new homes with unconventional or large spaces, it could be difficult to find granite. Conversely, quartz slabs are uniform in size and can be made to order if necessary.

Stain Resistance

Quartz counter-tops are essentially non-porous and resistant to stains, moisture, and bacteria. A 2018 stain test by Consumer Reports determined quartz exhibited 2% more stain resistance than granite. Granite is naturally more porous than quartz. This porous nature of granite makes it more likely to stain and retain bacteria and moisture. Because of this granite requires sealing on a regular basis. Quartz does not require sealing, giving new home buyers one less task to complete.

Damage

When it comes to being damage resistant both materials hold up well. Consumer Reports rated both materials as equal in terms of abrasion, heat, and impact resistance. However, because quartz counter-tops contain resin and polymers there is a chance very high heat could cause warping. While care should be used when placing hot items on either material, quartz may be more likely to warp under high heat.

The Conclusion

When compared head to head, there appears to be a tie between quartz and granite. New homeowners should consider their unique needs regarding stain and moisture resistance, durability, and availability of materials. No matter which material is selected, the result is sure to be beautiful.

 

 

 

 

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Tankless Water Heaters

How They Work

Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, tankless water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water. However, a tankless water heater’s output limits the flow rate.

Typically, tankless water heaters provide hot water at a rate of 2–5 gallons (7.6–15.2 liters) per minute. Gas-fired tankless water heaters produce higher flow rates than electric ones. Sometimes, however, even the largest, gas-fired model cannot supply enough hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses in large households. For example, taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time can stretch a tankless water heater to its limit. To overcome this problem, you can install two or more tankless water heaters, connected in parallel for simultaneous demands of hot water. You can also install separate tankless water heaters for appliances — such as a clothes washer or dishwater — that use a lot of hot water in your home.

Many homeowners, however, see benefits of a tankless water heater beyond energy savings.

Hot water on-demand

Tankless water heaters are known as demand-type water heaters, they provide hot water only as needed.  They don’t produce the standby energy losses as the standard water heaters so in turn it saves you money! You also never run out of hot water!

Earth-friendly Benefits

Tankless technology allows maximum energy efficiency and reduces your carbon foot print.These heaters also save space with a compact design, last longer and are better for the environment because a rusty tank doesn’t end up in the landfill.

 

Click to see why choosing McKee Homes is a SMART MOVE and all the other options we offer including being Apple Homekit compatible!

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

Dual Agent Example

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

Buyer Agent and List Agent Example

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

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