3/1

Land Donated for a New Elementary School in Crowley District

 Land for a new elementary school for the master-planned community Chisholm Trail Ranch is being donated by developer The Walton Group of Companies, a statement released Tuesday says.
3/1

Best Locations to Purchase a Forever Home

Whether one is involved in the busyness and excitement of raising a family or whether one is looking forward to blissful retirement, it matters a lot where one calls home.  One research company – GoodCall –  analyzed 509 US cities to determine the top-ten that would qualify as among the best places purchase a forever home.  Cities from Massachusetts to Hawaii were intensely researched where factors such as affordability, crime rate, home values, educational levels and other determiners were highlighted.  GoodCall’s data indicates that the majority of locations that ranked very high fell in the South and Southwest US.  GoodCall placed Texas in the forefront since six cities, out of GoodCall’s top-ten, are located in the Lone Star State!  GoodCall went on to say the following:  “Texas is the place to go if you’re looking to settle in for the long haul”.

 

Below, is a quick overview of these six Texas communities with populations between 70,000 and 155,000 residents.  They are considered highly-coveted locations in which to live.

 

#1/10 – The Woodlands, Texas

 

The Woodlands is a master-planned community in Eastern Texas established in 1974, and covers 27,000 acres.  Located only 28 miles northwest of the thriving city of Houston, this city offers a high-quality of life where its 119,000 residents enjoy the 2nd-lowest crime rate in the country – only 5.6 crimes per 1,000 residents.

 

The Woodlands ranks in the top 5% of cities for education rates, home value and employment.  An emphasis on preserving the beauty of the natural environment is a priority, here, where one can relish 160 miles of hike and bike trails and expansive parks.  Additionally, excellent housing options and great schools combine to make The Woodlands a very desirable place to call home.

 

#3/10 – Frisco, Texas

 

Frisco is a fast-growing Dallas suburb where home values are rising.  The words, ‘fast-growing’ becomes more clear when one realizes this city ranked as the 3rd-fastest growing city from 2010 to 2015.  It is, here, where residents savor community spirit, safety, and small-town charm while still relishing the excitement and diversity of the Dallas Metroplex.

 

A plethora of amenities keep Frisco hopping such as sports-affiliated teams that call Frisco home:  NFL’s Dallas Cowboys headquarters and training center, the FC Dallas soccer team, the Frisco RoughRiders Class AA baseball team, the Dallas Stars NHL team, and the Texas Legends.

 

Parks abound as well as arts and cultural settings; and Frisco has received the designation as “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation.  Frisco has been dubbed, “Texas Rising Star” due to its world-class art, sports and shopping options.

 

#4/10 – Allen, Texas

 

Allen is considered a wonderful place to raise a family, and remains an affluent community located 6 miles north of Plano, Texas and 22 miles north of Dallas.  An abundance of hike and bike trails – almost 50 miles of them –  as well as more than 2 dozen recreation centers and 40 community and neighborhood parks serve as favorite go-to locations for the 98,000 residents.  Almost half of the hike and bike trails run alongside beautiful creeks; and one of Allen’s favorite community parks offers four ponds, a fishing pier, a clubhouse and more.  Golfing enthusiasts enjoy the numerous golf courses in the area.

 

Allen can boast of having the 10th-lowest crime rate in the US; and it was in 2012 that Money Magazine included Allen, Texas among “Best Places to Live”!

 

#5/10 – Richardson, Texas

 

Richardson is positioned next to Dallas; and because of its close proximity, this city directly benefits from Dallas’ thriving economy.  Richardson is recognized as the home of Texas’ Telecom Corridor, a 6.5 mile stretch or road populated by offices of major players in the telecommunications industry – AT&T, Verizon, Samsung and Texas Instruments.  Money Magazine has, on multiple occasions, ranked Richardson as among “Best Places to Live”.

 

A vast array of entertainment options are available in Richardson, including museums, theaters, ballet and sporting arenas.  Arts and music festivals are held every year; and the city’s Breckingridge Park provides 417 acres that include three ponds, hiking trails, picnic areas and multiple soccer and softball fields.

 

#7/10 – Flower Mound, Texas

 

Flower Mound is a master-planned community located just 28 miles northwest of Dallas and only three miles north of DFW Airport.  This city is known for its low crime rate – 7.6 incidents/1,000 residents which translates into Flower Mound enjoying the 3rd-lowest crime rate in the US.  Residents of Flower Mound enjoy one of the lowest, overall tax rates in the DFW Metroplex.

 

Flower Mound’s location between Grapevine Lake and Lake Lewisville provides fun-for-all water-entertainment where one can enjoy multiple marinas and boat ramps.  Also, 30 miles of multi-purpose trails, 680 acres of parkland, 11 miles of equestrian trails, 26 miles of hike and bike trails and a variety of camping sites allow one to enjoy the outdoors in so many ways.

 

For those who are educationally-inclined, another amenity is the number of colleges, universities and community colleges located nearby – more than 50 of them!

 

 #8/10 – Sugar Land, Texas

 

Sugar Land is another master-planned community which is situated only 28 miles southwest of Houston; and its name was derived from the fact that this community was, originally, created as a company-owned town for Imperial Sugar during the early 1900’s.  In fact, the city’s seal still features the crown from the Imperial Sugar logo.

 

Sugar Land residents enjoy the many parks and recreational facilities, upscale shopping, first-class medical facilities, and its two professional minor league sports teams – the Sugar Land Skeeters minor-league baseball team and the Sugar Land Imperials 3HL minor league hockey team.

 

Sugar Land remains one of the most affluent and fastest-growing cities in Texas; and the city grew 158% between 2000 and 2010!  As of 2016, the population of Sugar Land was almost 79,000.   Residents and visitors, alike, are drawn to the town-square where one can immerse oneself in the lovely restaurants, sidewalk cafes, and eclectic shopping venues.  Sugar Land hosts the Sugar Land Ice and Sports Center which is open to the public as a family-oriented ice-skating facility.

 

Thirteen master-planned communities are located within Sugar Land’s city limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction where homeowners savor a high-quality lifestyle.  Many of these communities feature golf courses, country clubs and pristine lakes.

 

Texas is, indeed, a forever-home destination!

2/27

The Cost to Buy a Home Is On the Rise

Here’s a question:  What could be considered ‘prime time’ regarding the purchase a new home?  Here’s the answer:  When interest rates begin to creep upward; and/or when home prices begin to escalate!

 

Even a half of a percentage point with interest rates can make a big difference with not only the increased mortgage payment a homeowner would make each month, but the many thousands of extra dollars that same homeowner would shell out over the life of the loan.  Prospective home buyers should, also, pay attention to any rise in home prices, which would be indicative of a sellers’ market – in other words, fewer homes being available, allowing sellers the luxury of keeping prices higher – it’s all about the ever-present, supply and demand.

 

DFW – Significant Jump in Home Prices in 2016

 

A new National Association of Realtors’ report shared some eye-opening statistics concerning the fourth quarter of 2016 in which DFW home prices skyrocketed to a whopping 11.8%, which reflected one of the largest gains in the entire country as well as the greatest 4th-quarter price bump among Texas’ major markets.  The NAR put out a quarterly report which surveyed almost 180 metro areas; and among the top 20 US markets with the greatest home-price gains, DFW was among them.  Other Texas cities experienced soaring home prices during the final quarter of 2016, as well, including Austin at 8.5%, Houston at 7.3%, and San Antonio at 7.4%.  In fact, 87% of US markets experienced home-price increases, during that same time period, due to smaller inventories of available homes.

 

The NAR started tracking national listing supplies in 1999; and their current listings report tells us that during the last three months of 2016, 6.3% fewer homes were available for sale, nationally, when compared to the previous year.  The 6.3% fewer-homes figure represents the lowest level of homes on the market since the NAR began tracking the national listing supply, beginning in 1999!   Also, across the US, median sales prices are at peak levels – the same type of peak levels that were evident 10 years ago.  Median DFW home-sales prices during the last quarter of 2016 hit $230,600; and that figure is the highest ever, according to the NAR survey.  The national median was a bit higher, at $235,000.

 

A 2nd Contender to Deal With

 

The NAR summarizes all the, above, information by stating that home prices in North Texas have risen more than 40% in the past four years – ouch!  But another factor that will cause home-purchasing costs to gain momentum will be any rise in interest rates, which has already reared its head.  With interest rates showing signs of inching upward, that factor, too, should raise a red flag for prospective home-buyers who are debating whether or not to buy now.

 

The Feds held off with raising rates for most of 2016, partially due to low energy prices.  But according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, interest rates are likely to climb higher over the next few years unless the economy shows noticeable signs of weakening.  In December of 2016, a panel within the Federal Reserve that is in charge of setting interest rates, unanimously voted to raise the federal funds rate by 0.25 percentage points with a target range of 0.5% to 0.75%.  The Feds have, also, stated they will raise interest rates a total of three times in 2017.

 

One only needs to be reminded of how even an ever-so-slight rise in interest rates can, dramatically, affect home-buyers’ pocket books.  For example: a $300,000 loan with a 3.95%, 30-year-fixed mortgage would result in a total interest payment of $212,000.  With a less-than-half-percent rise in interest rates and using 4.25% for the same time period of 30 years at a fixed rate, the interest paid out would escalate to $231,295 – almost $20,000 in extra, out-of-pocket money!  When higher interest rates equate to higher borrowing costs towards purchase a home, a home-buyer’s reduced budget ensues, resulting in some potential home-buyers being unable to purchase the type of home they desire and be resigned to settle for one that doesn’t fully meet their needs and wants.

 

Get ‘In’ While the ‘Getting In’ is Good

 

CBS News didn’t mince words in a December 2016 report:  “If you’re saving up to buy a new home, you’ll need a lot more of it in 2017”.  Also, with DFW experiencing a seller’s market, one needs to be strategic and realize that other homeowners may love your on-the-market dream home just as much as you do; and multiple interested parties should be expected. One’s dream home can be gone in a matter of days; so moving fast is key.

 

Svenja Gudell, Chief Economist at Zillow, is among many economists who are convinced 2017 will continue to be a sellers’ market.  Gudell states that Zillow asked a panel of more than 100 economists what they thought would happen in 2017; and the unanimous view was that a sellers’ market for 2017 should be expected.

 

So, is now a good time to buy a new home?  If one were to wait until a buyers’ market were to emerge, it could take a while; and in the meantime, rising interest rates could become very financially uncomfortable for many prospective buyers.  Locking in at a still-low interest rate could be a very wise move since waiting too long could be a detrimental game-changer.  Get ‘in’, while the ‘getting in’ is still good!

2/24

The Job Relocation Influx into DFW is Unabated

Companies of all sizes – many of them from California – are relocating to the DFW area for some very good reasons:  1) centralized location 2) diversified economy 3) continual population boom 4) tax incentives and 5) the business-friendly atmosphere that the Lone Star State is known for.  North Texas continues to be a very attractive destination for businesses; and along with the influx of companies, comes the influx of skilled professionals clamoring to fill the varied positions.

 

The Figures are Astounding

 

Mr. Cannon Green, Managing Director of Texas’ Stream Realty Partners, points out that 350 people move into DFW every day.  In fact, there were 3.5 million people in North Texas in 1994; and that figure, as of 2016, grew to a whopping 7 million.  The number of North Texas residents is projected to jump to 11 million, by 2040!

 

Chipman Relocation and Logistics tells us that most residential re-locations are job-related, with DFW being among the top-three destinations for job-related moves, along with Los Angeles and Atlanta.  With Dallas ranking 2nd in the nation for job growth, it may not come as a huge surprise that an estimated 131,000 people moved to the DFW area between 2013 and 2014, alone; and that represented the 2nd-largest population gain for any US metro during that time-frame.  The flood gates, figuratively speaking, remain open; and the growing number of job-relocations to DFW doesn’t show any signs of subsiding any time, soon.

 

The Reasons are Compelling

 

At some point, one has to ask:  Why are the number of job relocations into the DFW area continuing with such intensity?  The answer to that question is multifaceted; and those facets are very revealing.  With most residential re-locations being job-relocation oriented, let’s break down three of the US Department of Labor’s reasons for this type of boom in DFW:

 

1:  Economics:  DFW’s economy is leading the nation.  In a mere 10 years, from 2003 to 2013, DFW’s GDP grew by $101 billion.  Nationally, that translated to being the 3rd-highest amount in the country, during that decade.  Interestingly, if DFW were an actual country, it could boast of possessing the 29th largest economy on the planet!

 

2:  Employment:  Because the economy of DFW is so thriving, it creates jobs – lots of them!  To put that into a clearer perspective, DFW added 2.4 times as many job as Los Angeles and 8.8 times as many jobs as Chicago, from 2005 to 2013.  During that time frame, DFW added over 337,000 new jobs!

 

For 2015 and 2016, low oil prices and a strong dollar hindered job growth across the country.  With that being said, however, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas painted a robust picture regarding Texas’ job growth for 2017 since job growth did pick up in the second half of 2016.  the Dallas Fed forecasts the following;  “As the state pulls out of a 2-year energy slump, major metro areas in Texas will continue to boom.”

 

3:  Earnings:  Jobs are flourishing in DFW –  salaries are generous; and incoming residents are drawn to that.  In 2013, the median household income in DFW was 58,366 beating out Houston’s median household income of $57,712 and San Antonio’s figure of $52,139.  For 2015, the median household income for DFW reached $61,644, with 2016 figures not being available until September of 2017.

 

The growing number of job-relocations into DFW is robust since the Dallas-Fort Worth jobs market remains hot!  DFW’s expanding and relocating businesses sector, alone, added 98,000 new jobs in 2015, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

To further emphasize the point, Ian Siegel, CEO of Santa-Monica, California-based, ZipRecruiter, shares the following:  DFW has a low unemployment rate of 3.7% coupled with a high volume of jobs, a high ratio of jobs per candidate, and a high number of available jobs-to-population that beats New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Miami.  When you have job growth in multiple industries such as health-care, IT and finance, combined with a construction boom, you’re in the middle of a virtuous cycle many cities desire.  The job market for DFW can be defined in one word:  Diversification.  Growing companies with abundant, high-paying job opportunities are a big draw for those looking to relocate and get more bang for their salary buck.”

2/22

How Rising Interest Rates Diminish Home-Buying Purchasing Power

Did you know that higher interest rates reflect a more-robust economy, as determined by the Federal Reserve Board?  Along with that good news, however, it’s important to realize that higher interest rates can, most definitely, adversely affect the home-buying purchasing power of potential home-owners.  Higher interest rates have the power to eliminate home ownership for some prospective buyers, altogether.  For others, higher rates would mean settling for a home that is less ideal than anticipated since interest rates play a predictable role with how much money a lender will permit one to borrow.  After all, higher mortgage payments go hand-in-hand with increased interest rates,

 

Even A Little Means A LOT

 

If rates creep upward, even by a seemingly-miniscule amount – say a single percentage point  –  some potential home-buyers would be forced to look for a home that wouldn’t meet as many of their needs in terms of aesthetics, location, size and amenities.  According to Andrew Saltman, CEO of Carbon Capital in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, an interest hike of only 1% could translate into a home-buyer settling for a home that costs about $35,000 less.  Qualifying for what WAS to be a maximum loan amount, would no longer apply.  Consider this scenario to illustrate the point:

 

***  You have qualified for a Principal & Interest monthly payment of $1,200 (taxes and various insurance are not included, here).

 

***  Details: sales price of $295,000 – 30-year fixed rate – 20% down – loan amount of $236,000 @ 4.5% interest

 

Now, let’s add a single percentage point to the scenario and see how it all changes:

 

***  With the new 5.5% interest rate, the maximum sales prices decreases to $265,000 and the loan amount becomes $216,000 –  that equates to a 10% decrease in purchasing power!

 

However, one way to still purchase the exact home of one’s dreams, in-spite of a rate hike, would be through a reconfiguration of the down-payment, and pay a larger amount, upfront.  The catch is, for many home-buyers, this could prove to be very financially challenging or outright impossible.  As a result, Saltman urges home-buyers to purchase a home as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the still-low interest rates since accepting the risk that rates might remain low could prove to be very disappointing, at the very least.

 

If a home-buyer does purchase his or her dream-home at a higher rate, that higher rate can mean a buyer will pay many thousands of dollars more over the life of the loan.  Here is a case-in-point with a less-than-1/2 percentage-point increase:

 

***  You have a $300,000 loan with a 3.95%, 30-year fixed mortgage.  The total interest payment would be $212,500.

 

***  At 4.25% for the same time period, the interest paid would change, dramatically, over the life of the loan to a whopping $231,295!  This equates to nearly $20,000 in additional out-of-pocket money due to only a slight hike in the interest rate.

 

Robert R. Johnson, President and CEO of The American College of Financial Services in Pennsylvania, echos Mr. Saltman’s sentiments regarding purchasing a new home as quickly as possible.  He states:  “I believe new-home buyers should look to lock in fixed-rate mortgages sooner than later.  Right now, rates have nowhere to go but up; and homeowners should access cheaper money, now.”

2/20

How the Trump Factor Could Help Improve the Building Industry

As President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan becomes staunchly embedded in our psyches, it is easy to see how the goals behind these words could positively impact multiple aspects of America’s inner workings, including the building industry – more specifically, the home-building arena.  Though it is too early to see actual results regarding this, it is anticipated that the strengthening of the home-building industry, via economic improvements, will become realities.

 

Home builders and commercial real-estate executives are holding out, with great optimism, that President Trump will forward some type of stimulus their way through a variety of means such as lower tax rates and loosened lending regulations – promises that Trump stressed during his candidacy.  According to Nela Richardson – Chief Economist at Redfin, a well-recognized housing data firm – home ownership is at its lowest since 1965, which means many Americans have not been able to take advantage of enhancing their wealth, via equity building, through home ownership.

 

Deregulation Shows Promise

 

President Trump feels the housing sector is over-regulated; and his desire to loosen current regulations would advance his agenda to increase the home-ownership rate.  Industry analysts tell us that due to Trump’s victory, big banks could, realistically, enjoy a softening of the lending rules that were put in place after the 2008 financial crisis through 2010’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.  Wanting to dismantle much of the law surrounding Dodd-Frank was clearly revealed during Trump’s presidential campaign.

 

It was the Dodd-Frank Act that was one of Former-President Obama’s signature pieces of legislation  which tightened the rules governing the financial sector.  Critics, including some House Republicans, have felt the legislation has been overly rigid; and the regulations have thwarted lending opportunities and economic recovery.  It is strongly believed by politicians and economists, alike, that changes to the Dodd-Frank regulatory regime is on its way, either through minor changes or by dismantling it, entirely.

 

Bottom line:  President Trump has promised to slash lending regulations and pave the way for the housing industry to receive a much-needed shot in the arm that would increase mortgage availability for many more Americans.  President Trump’s words were clear:  “For every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.”

 

Tax Reform Will Help

 

President Trump is calling for a Middle-Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act.  This act would be designed to do several things:

 

***  Provide a 35% tax cut for middle-class families with 2 children

 

***  Lower the business tax rate from 35%, to 15%

 

***  Initiate a 10% rate for American corporate money, overseas

 

This all translates into creating a boost for the US economy.  From a business perspective, it could mean an increase in available capital investments, which would include the construction arena.

 

The Construction Industry Has Faith in President Trump

 

Ed Brady, Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, has applauded President Trump regarding his upcoming promises to stimulate the building industry.  Once Trump’s victory became official, Mr. Brady stated: “The National Home Building Association looks forward to working in a bi-partisan manner, with the incoming administration…to tackle critical issues facing the housing industry.”

 

Builder Magazine reflects Mr. Brady’s optimism and support for Trump; and has made it clear that Trump is likely to be a plus for the construction industry.  More specifically, Builder Magazine went on to reference Dodge Data &  Analytics researchers who view President Trump’s promises to be a positive sign for building professionals.  That type of anticipation reverts back to President Trump’s expertise in construction and real-estate development and his insight regarding the crucial role construction plays in the growth of the US economy – from major cities to small communities.

2/8

2017 Design Trends that are Meant to Excite and Inspire

Every year, new and exciting trends emerge onto the décor scene that add tantalizing ideas to be incorporated in any room in one’s home – whether kitchens, living rooms or bedrooms and beyond.  Sometimes one or more rooms need a new burst of color, texture or contrast to add attention-grabbing vibrancy and new life.

 

Movers and shakers in the world of decorating and interior design offer some insights, below, on decorating trends for 2017.  Brian Paquette – a Seattle-based interior designer, Cecily Mendell – a San Francisco designer, Ashley Redmond of the online design service, ‘Decorist’, and Julie Carlson – editor of ‘Remodelista’, believe the following trends will make big and bold statements for the new year.

 

The Use of Hunter Green

 

Hunter green is a rich, dark shade that is similar to pine green, and had its hey-day in the 1990’s, often for carpeting.  For 2017, this vibrant color is coming back with a vengeance on throw pillows, distressed buffets, stoneware, linens, throw rugs and accent walls.  Other darker green variations are taking center-stage, as well, including olive-green and moss-green.

 

Darker green will be sprouting up all over and add a bold, stunning look to any room!  One can lay a foundation of neutrals. such as tan or light-brown furniture and subtle wood flooring, and then have fun with different variations of the darker greens to add pops of color to pack a punch!

 

Responsibly-Made Goods

 

Ethical home-décor has everything to do with eco-friendly options and responsibly-made goods.  A variety of brands of outdoor furniture, for example, are made from recycled plastic and reclaimed wood.  More and more companies are emerging that offer furniture pieces, textiles and home accents, via, partnerships with artisans around the world who provide items that are handmade and qualify as fair-trade.  By purchasing fair-trade or ethically-made items, one has a wonderful opportunity to support businesses that promote ecologically-responsible fashion pieces for the home.  Many products are crafted by talented, female artisans in remote parts of the world who, now, have an opportunity to rise above poverty and support themselves and their families.

 

Flatware with Ornate Handles

 

Flatware doesn’t have to be, well, ‘flat’.  Flatware can take on oodles of personality when handles are jewel-embedded or polished stone.  For example, table-décor can make a bold, highly-memorable statement when flatware includes handles made of crystal that dance with colors of blues, pinks and purples.

 

Mother-of-pearl handles utilized on flatware made a dynamic statement within highly-sophisticated homes in the 1800’s and turn of the 20th century.  This vintage look is making a come-back; and it is striking.  In fact, some pieces of flatware with mother-of-pearl handles are so stunning, they are being labeled as ‘kitchen jewelry’, today.

 

Then there is flatware that incorporates handles crafted of stone; and colors and varieties of stone handles are many, varied and incredibly gorgeous!  Natural green jade is becoming popular within the sophisticated tabletop scene as well as natural tiger-eye stone and natural tree-agate.  When these stunning mediums become polished to a smooth finish or reveal hand-carved intricacies, a single piece of flatware qualifies as a work of art, all on its own!

 

Stained Glass

 

Stained glass is remembered, by many, as a 70’s motif; but it is, also, a classic that is becoming an increasingly-coveted embellishment for 2017.  It is being used to add splashes of color and dimension to not only lamps, but to walls, room dividers, decorative plates, and window-panel art.  Stained-glass window panels can be hung or propped up against a window to add a type of aesthetics that becomes an attention-grabbing conversation starter, within seconds; and the reflections of natural light are gorgeous and hypnotic.  Stained glass, in gently-dilapidated frames hung on walls, provides a flavor of country charm or old-world ambiance.

 

A few fabulous stained-glass window designs can include:

 

*** a flock of colorful birds sitting on a metal bar

*** a half-moon design with the stained glass simulating the beautifully-spread feathers of a peacock

*** a Tiffany-style Victorian window panel, circular in shape

*** two cats sitting side-by-side in a bed of colorful flowers

*** a stunning butterfly with outstretched wings in blues, oranges, yellows and greens

 

Informal Dining Rooms

 

Formal dining rooms are becoming replaced by a more informal look and feel; and that dedicated space is becoming multi-functional and not used, exclusively, for formal occasions.  Furniture is, now, less ceremonial and a lot more comfortable and versatile with casual, yet sophisticated, dining tables that might accommodate chairs on one side and a long bench on the other.  Additionally, other non-traditional seating is being included in dining room spaces such as overstuffed chairs in corners.  It’s all about creating a warmer, cozier space with a much more natural feel – informal, less fussy, more used and more enjoyed!

 

Deep-Toned Walls

 

The idea of walls having to be on the lighter side is being replaced by some walls, in select rooms, adding drama and warmth, via, saturated colors, especially charcoal grays.  Darker, richer wall colors add a stunning backdrop when one contrasts those richer hues with lighter accents such as off-white or cream-colored doors, baseboards, built-in cabinets, etc.  The much-lighter contrasts are absolutely necessary in order to frame the darker walls and amplify the wall color’s impact.  Additionally, light-hued upholstered furniture, airy curtains and a mix of colorful accessories, such as vibrant area rugs are the perfect recipe for bringing the entire look, together.

 

Say ‘Hello’ to Dunhill Homes Design Studio

 

If the thought of playing with colors, textures, patterns and designs excites you, the Dunhill Homes Design Studio has a stunning array of luscious samples you can explore and feast your eyes on – flooring, carpeting, cabinetry, lighting fixtures, counter-tops and more!  Our design experts have an insatiable passion for creating stunning living environments that embrace contemporary, traditional, modern or eclectic flavors – helping new home-owners select decorating options that will customize and reflect their personalities and lifestyles.

 

The Dunhill Homes Design Center welcomes visitors who are interested in combining different mediums to begin the design phase of their new homes.  We encourage you to make an appointment to tour our beautiful, spacious display floor in Coppell, Texas – just give us a call at:  817-796-1037.  Selecting gorgeous amenities is one of the most-exciting aspects of building a new Dunhill Homes residence; and we’re ready when you are!

2/6

Buying a Home in 2017 Has Everything To Do with Credit

Purchasing a home can be a beautiful, wonderfully-joyful experience; yet it can be stressful at the same time.  A major portion of that stress can hinge on the condition of one’s credit.  A prospective home-buyer fully understanding the vital role that credit plays in securing a home loan, is paramount.

 

Here are some important things to know about your credit to ensure you are empowered and prepared when seeking that all-important home loan.

 

Begin at the Beginning – Know Your Credit Standing

 

Your credit score will determine the type of interest rate you will receive for a home loan and well as the conditions of the loan.  Your credit score and credit history will, also, determine if you are approved for a loan.  By studying your credit reports from the three major credit-reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – you must attempt to find any errors that might be present on one or more of those reports.  Errors are not uncommon; and if left undetected and unresolved, your chance of home-ownership can be stifled.  Good credit scores are your passport to competitive interest rates for a home loan.  Healthy credit scores actually save you money – lots of it –  since lower interest rates can save home-owners many thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

 

Credit Tip:  Request your free copy of your credit report from all three credit-reporting agencies, once a year.  Alternatively, you can receive a copy from one company at a time, every 4 months, at no cost to you.  You can reach the three agencies at:  www.annualcreditreport.com.  You can expedite the process of credit-report requests by giving the agencies a call at:  1-877-322-8228.

 

If purchasing a home is a near-future endeavor, ordering all three reports at the same time is a good idea in order to have a complete understanding of the information, simultaneously, to prepare yourself for what you may need to do to rectify any errors.

 

It’s important to know that free credit reports from the three agencies do not include your credit score; but you can contact the credit agencies to get those scores, usually for a fee.  Each of the three major credit bureaus has its own method for determining a credit score, which is why scores derived from these agencies may vary, a bit.  Credit scores range from 300 to 850; and a ‘FAIR’ rating is from 562-665; a ‘GOOD’ rating is from 666-754; and a ‘GREAT’ rating is from 755-850.

 

Scrutinize Your Credit Report

 

Once your credit reports arrive, don’t just look them over, scrutinize them!  You may be surprised to discover one or more errors which can be a result of several things:  1) the credit agency processed some information incorrectly (human error is ever-present) 2) lenders or collectors sent inaccurate information to the credit bureaus 3) updated information that should have been undated, never was, and 4) fraud.  Fraud is ever-pervasive when it comes to identity-theft; and you could have accounts that were opened in your name and used by someone else.

 

Credit Tip:  When analyzing your three credit reports, be on the look-out for the following personal information:

 

***  incorrect spellings of first, middle and last names

***  inaccurate previous addresses or incorrect current address

***  incorrect names of any employers

***  accounts you did not open

 

Eyebrows should be raised if accounts: 1) appear unfamiliar 2) are listed twice 3) are listed as ‘open’ even though you closed them 4) have incorrect or questionable balances and 5) indicate late or missed payments, especially if the account information is more than 7 years old.

 

Pay Attention to the “Credit Inquiries” Section

 

You will notice a part of the three credit reports entitled, “Inquiries That May Impact Your Credit Rating” or “Inquiries Shared with Others”.  These sections should contain ONLY the companies you have used for credit applications within the past two years.  If company names don’t ring a bell, pursue any inquiries with the respective company and the respective credit agency.

 

Inquiries that fall under the headings of “Inquiries Shared Only With You”, “Promotional Inquiries” and “Account Review Inquiries” will not have negatively impacted your credit score.

 

Another section to study would be the “Negative Information” section.  You will want to look out for the following:  1) Accounts placed in collection you don’t recognize 2) Accounts that are more than 7 years old that should have been removed 3) public records of lawsuits, judgments, liens etc that are unfamiliar to you or such records that are over 7 years old, or 4) bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old.  If you filed for bankruptcy and it has been more than 10 years since you did so, that bankruptcy is officially outdated and has no business being on your credit report.

 

Credit Tip:  Anything that looks or feels questionable should be, immediately, addressed with the three agencies.

 

If you have supporting documentation or account numbers to verify any claims of fraud or inaccurate information, all the better.  Any investigations by one or more of the agencies will go that much faster.  Keep in mind that lenders will look at all three credit bureaus during a loan application, so looking over your credit standing with all three bureaus is very important.

 

Any dispute you may have to contend with can be performed online, over the phone or the old-fashioned way:  paper mail.  In any event, the credit bureau(s) will guide you through the process.

 

The All-Important FICO Score

 

Mortgage lenders use what is called a FICO score which will determine whether or not you will be offered a home loan.  That FICO score will set the rate and terms of the loan – and it is, here, where many thousands of dollars can be saved, as previously mentioned.  Most FICO scores range from 300-850; and if your FICO score lands in the mid-to-high 700’s, you will be looking good.

 

A FICO score is a type or brand of credit score created by the Fair Isaac Corporation – the most commonly used credit-scoring company.  The determination for that score will depend on the contents of your credit report.  The FICO score, and details of credit reports, will determine a borrower’s credit risk or credit worthiness.  Details within credit reports that would be analyzed would include income, how long the borrower has been at his or her job, and the type of credit requested – in this case, a home loan.

 

Your credit score will, more often than not, fall in line with your FICO score; but the numbers can vary due to different mathematical formulas that are used.  Some lenders will pull whatever credit scores they want when evaluating your credit application.  Bottom line; however:  It is the FICO score that you should be basing your expectations on since most lenders will look at all three FICO scores from the major credit bureaus when determining one’s qualifications for a home loan.

 

Credit Tip:  Know your FICO score!

 

Dunhill Homes Has Experts to Serve You

 

The financial experts that work hand-in-glove with Dunhill Homes are here to help you begin the loan process.  From loan application, to being approved for a loan, to the closing – it can all take place, seamlessly.  Dunhill Homes is here for you; and we will do everything within our power to place the keys to your new home’s front door, in the palm of your hand!

2/6

Transformational Trends That Will Blow Your Mind

The pace of technological advancements in every dimension of industrialized societies is traveling at warp speed;  are there is no slowing it down.  Almost anyone would like to make their lives easier, have access to quick solutions for everyday problems, and maybe even add a bit more excitement to a sometimes ho-hum world – tech wonders can do just that.  Here are five high-tech ‘toys’ that fit the bill. What was once futuristic fantasy, has become very tangible, useable, interactive realities. Be ready to be amazed….

 

Hello, Alexa!

 

There’s a new person in town; and Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ is your digital personal-assistant, extraordinaire!  Alexa is speech-recognition technology programmed to respond to a, virtually, limitless array of voice commands.   This digital device can inform you of the weather conditions in space (in case you might ever want to know), play any genre of music from Pandora, Spotify and others at your command, make your grocery list, remind you of upcoming business or personal events, and perform mathematical equations quicker than you can say ‘Albert Einstein’.  These examples represent only a small tip of a very massive iceberg!

 

If you are ever interested in getting a quick synopsis of what is going on in the world, Alexa can provide instant information from news outlets including NPR, BBC, USA Today, Associated Press and many more.  For those who love trivia, Alexa provides a plethora of trivia games, quote generators and fact and data storehouses.  And how about Alexa’s ability to link apps and devices with specific actions?  Let’s just say the options are mind-boggling; and here are two examples: Alexa will adjust your Nest thermostat to a higher temperature when you inform Alexa that you’re too cold; and Alexa has the ability to initiate the cycles for certain makes of washers and dryers – Oh, the things Alexa can do!

 

Flex-Washer and Flex-Dryer

 

Not too many people get excited about doing laundry; but thanks to Samsung, there’s a better way to  deal with mounds of clothing and get it done quicker – meet the Flex-Washer and Flex-Dryer.  This astounding new advancement has invaded the listless world of laundry with a two-in-one washer built as an integrated unit that offers a 1-cubit foot upper-washer and a 5-cubic-foot washer, below.  Delicate clothing or baby items, for example, can be placed on the top washer while towels, jeans, heavy work clothes, etc. can be placed in the larger, lower washer.  Both washes can begin at the same time, or separately; and when it’s time for drying, the dryer is equally impressive.  It offers a 1-cubic foot, non-tumble drying rack, on top, that provides gentle, filtered heat that can be programmed and will not exceed 95 degrees.  The front-load compartment, below, is a 7.5-cubic foot dryer that will accommodate the heavier loads.  “Super-speed” is one option that can be selected; and one can wash a full load in as little as 30 minutes – 45% faster than traditional wash cycles.  Also, the Flex-Washer does not require two water lines but uses an internal separator that sends the front-load water one direction and the top-load water in another direction.  This ensures that water from simultaneous wash cycles does not mix.

 

Washing and drying are completely customizable with an integrated touch-screen panel offering a vast array of detailed choices.  Perhaps one of the coolest aspects of Samsung’s Flex-Washer and Flex-Dryer  is the Samsung Smart-Home App for Android or iPhone which allows the user to start and stop cycles, check on the status of any cycle, and more.  From the convenience of your smart phone, you can take control of the wash or dry cycles – any time, anywhere.

 

Knocki

 

If the idea of turning ordinary areas of your home (a door, table, wall, etc) into a remote-control surface sounds far-fetched, think again; and meet ‘Knocki’.  Knocki is a small, circular, flat device that looks like a hockey puck, but with a very sophisticated appearance.  All you do is attach it to any surface in your home and transform that surface into a tech-advanced tool.  The surface can be wood, metal, stone or drywall.

 

Here is how it works:  Non-acoustic sensors interact with a wide array of software and devices such as Nest thermostat, PHILIPS hue, LIFX, SmartThings, IFTTT, WeMo Coffeemaker, Google Calendar, and Sjpotify.  Knocki will detect deliberate knock or tap patterns that the user creates – one can tap three times on the kitchen counter, for example, and have Knocki initiate an alert from a misplaced phone.  An individual who is wheel-chair bound can tap a table with 2 quick knocks to turn on lights and a TV in a select room; or 3 slower taps might lock or unlock doors or regulate the thermostat – any regular environment can be transformed into a user interface. The abilities of Knocki are, quite literally, limited to one’s imagination!

 

BOND

 

When you see the name ‘BOND’ you might be thinking ‘James Bond’; but even James Bond couldn’t do what Olibra’s BOND can do; and that is to turn existing appliances into SMART appliances in mere seconds.  Through its mobile app, the BOND integrates RF or IR appliances with one press of an appliance’s remote – in other words, BOND ‘upgrades’ more traditional, remote-controlled devices.  The process is amazingly simple:  1) download the app 2) point your old remote at the BOND and wait for the light to turn blue 3) control up to 6 different appliances from your phone or any smart device.

 

As mentioned, BOND offers smart-home integration for radio-frequency remote-controlled appliances, and handles infrared, as well.  BOND is compatible with multiple home-automation platforms including NEST, SmartThings, Honeywell, DIRECTV, iDevices and more.  Via this device, mobile control of appliances is possible with appliances that, previously were not connectible without the use of pricey hardware.  Ceiling fans, garage doors, and power-shades, for example, can be integrated; and the user can, further, customize functionality including speed settings and temperature controls.  Additionally, BOND integrates with Amazon Echo, allowing one to use voice commands to control devices, including iOS and Android.

 

Foldimate

 

What would you say to a robotic machine that can, actually, fold your laundry – and fold it professionally?  Does it sound far-fetched?  Most would say, ‘yes’; but far-fetched is being replaced with simplified reality, at a cost of no more than $850.00.  This small machine is designed to sit atop one’s washer or dryer or on a sturdy table.  Being only 32 inches high and 28 inches wide, it can be easily moved from room to room.  The Foldimate has the amazing ability to not only de-wrinkle and fold laundry, but each item can be perfumed, softened and treated during the folding process, if desired.

 

Freshly-dried clothing such as shirts, for example, are simply clipped onto the designated hooks on the machine’s front rack.  The rack will hold about 15-20 pieces of clothing at one time, though towels, under-garments and socks are not designed to be used by Foldimate.  Once clothing is clipped on the front rack, one presses the respective button on the control panel that will tell the Foldimate the type of clothing that will be folded – sweaters, shirts, etc.  Foldimate will sense the size and thickness of the items as well as whether an item might have short sleeves, or long.  A man’s long-sleeved shirt will take only 10 seconds to be perfectly folded.

 

A conveyor belt and robotic arms are the key components in the Foldimate’s ability to fold items to perfection; and a built-in steamer will optimize the professional-appearance of each folded item, assuming the steam choice is selected.  Once the 15-20 items have been folded, a digital alert will indicate that the finished items are ready for ‘pick up’ from the machine’s tray, holding the stack of perfectly-folded pieces – wow!

 

New ideas, conceptual leaps and even paradigm shifts are what tech advances are built around; and ain’t it grand?

1/25

How Will/May Trump, as President, Affect Mortgage Rates?

There is bad news; and there is good news.  First the bad news:  Mortgage rates are above 4% for the first time in about a year.  The good news:  They say ‘everything is relative’, and case in point:  in 1981, the annual average rate on a 30-year mortgage was a whopping 16.63% – according to Freddie Mac.  So, comparatively speaking, 4% is phenomenally low.  Okay, one more bit of possible bad news:  there are financial insiders who feel mortgage rates will, probably, rise in 2017.  But with that gray cloud, comes a bit of a silver-lining:  any increase(s) in 2017 will, most likely, be slow and steady; but even slow and steady can impact home-buyers’ pocketbooks.

 

Mortgage-rate increases will be driven by several factors:  1) any fiscal stimulus resulting from President Trump’s policies 2) higher rates due to the Federal Reserve increasing the cost of borrowing due to strong economic growth and 3) escalating bond-market yields.  A bond yield is the amount of return an investor realizes on a bond.

 

Interestingly, market rates sharply rose once Trump won the election, to the surprise of many.  When the Federal Reserve raised rates during mid-December of 2016, it indicated the Reserve’s stand that the existing economic conditions had become noticeably improved which meant, at least theoretically, that stronger economic growth during the new year would be fairly certain.

 

The mortgage-rate increase of 4% represents a 0.25 percentage-point hike.  It is the first hike in short-term interest rates in almost a year; and it represents an increase in short-term interest rates for only the 2nd time in the past decade.

 

Will Mortgage Rates Rise a Little or a Lot?

 

Economic gurus, including economists, analysts and housing experts, have some, additional, good news:  spikes in mortgage rates should not take place, during 2017 – again, any hikes should be gradual.  Danielle Hale, Managing Director of Housing Research, tells us that a lack of a painful spike will be, partially, due to the likelihood that Gross Domestic Product growth will remain lower than what it was since the end of WWII.  At that time in history – the postwar period – the GDP growth hovered at an average of 3%.  The majority of economists are predicting GDP growth into 2017 will remain at about 2%, or just a bit higher.  Hale goes on to say that under-performance, as it relates to GDP growth, should keep rates lower than past rates, but prospective home-buyers should not expect rates to stay as low as they are now.  As the US economy gains strength and momentum, Americans should expect rates in 2017 to climb, quite predictably, three more times.  Hale sends out a bit of a warning:  The National Association of Realtors expects to see rates averaging 4.6% for the fourth quarter of 2017, meaning rates by the end of 2017 could be somewhere in the 4.5-to- 5% range.

 

Four Things to Think About Under a Trump Presidency

 

  1. Fiscal Stimulus – Increased deficits and a larger debt load could materialize, partially, due to tax cuts which Trump has proposed. Combined with current stable employment, the perfect storm for more robust economic growth would be in place.  And though good news, it is would be the enhanced health of economic growth that could result in higher mortgage rates.

 

What one doesn’t want is rates to rise too quickly.  Hale reminds us that if that were to happen, it would indicate that inflation is coming in, higher than anticipated.  That would lead to the Feds raising short-term rates, even more quickly.  Unfortunately, that would have a ripple effect and generate long-term rates to rise more rapidly, as well.

 

  1. Privatizing Government-sponsored Entities – If government-sponsored entities such as Fannie May and Freddie Mac were to be privatized, it could create some problems regarding mortgage rates for home-buyers. Though the chance of this type of privatization is not overly likely due to challenges with getting through Congress, the possibility does exist.  If this reform were to materialize, however, one should expect higher rates.  The reason for higher rates is explained by Jordan Levine, an economist with the California Association of Realtors:  “It’s safe to say that privatizing Fannie and Freddie will increase rates because, right now with government ownership, the implicit guarantee that Uncle Sam stands behind the mortgage bonds they issue reduces the cost of capital for the private sector.”  Levine goes on to say that this type of privatization would result in higher-borrowing costs since increased-borrowing risks would emerge due to private-sector lending.  Higher risks would mean higher rates.

 

  1. Deregulation – Since the financial crisis, more-stringent lending standards have been standard. One of President Obama’s signature pieces of legislation was the Dodd-Frank Act which, in 2010, tightened the rules governing the financial sector.  Critics and some House Republicans have felt the legislation has been too rigid and that the regulations have thwarted lending opportunities and economic recovery.

 

Prior to being elected, Trump mentioned the need to instill significant changes to Dodd-Frank in order to loosen bank lending.  It is strongly believed by politicians and economists that changes to the Dodd-Frank regulatory regime is on its way, either via minor changes or by dismantling it, entirely.  Mark Zandi, Chief Economist for Moody’s Analytics, feels that killing Dodd-Frank is highly unlikely.  Both Zandi and Levine tell us that deregulation isn’t an all-powerful force when it comes to mortgage rates but, rather, would have more of an impact regarding the number of people who would have access to credit, since there could be tougher limits on borrowing.

 

  1. Change at the Federal Reserve – When Janet Yellen, the current Federal Reserve Chairperson, ends her term at the start of 2018, Trump will make a new appointment for that position. Fortunately, a new person filling that role may not, necessarily, have much of an impact on mortgage rates since 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are tied to long-term rates; and the Federal Reserve has limited control over that.  Hale states:  “By the end of [Yellen’s] term, the Fed should be well on its way to a more normal monetary policy.  A new chair could come in and change that, but it’s not very likely.”

 

Higher Rates – What Does It Mean for Home-buyers?

 

Mr. Zandi states that during the past 30 years, home-owners have been in the luxurious position of securing lower rates for the purchase of their new homes which have been lower than the rates they held with their existing homes, going on the market.  As expected, this scenario helped to stimulate home sales. Zandi says the reverse will be true, going forward:  “Mortgage rates are going to be higher on the home they want to buy, relative to their current mortgage.  That will make it less attractive for them to buy and sell.”

 

Mr. Levine offers several suggestions:

 

***  Prospective home-buyers should purchase a new home as soon as they are financially able, in order to lock in the lower rates, before they rise.

 

***  Home-owners who are thinking of selling 12 months from now should attempt to sell earlier to take advantage of the still-low rates.

 

***  Home-owners considering refinancing should do so as quickly as possible.  Again, it’s all about securing low rates, while they are still low.

 

***  Floating-rate mortgages should be refinanced into a fixed-rate loan.  An increase with a home-owner’s ARM over the next year could prove to be financially challenging, depending on one’s income.

 

***  Home-equity lines-of-credit with adjustable rates should be refinanced into fixed-rate home-equity loans.

 

***  Future home-buyers should make every effort to increase their credit scores, minimize current debts as much as possible, and sock away the money it would take for a down-payment and closing costs.

 

Zandi presses the fact that these suggestions are centered around grabbing the best, possible mortgage rates, before they creep upwards; and it sounds like they will!

 

Dunhill Homes Is Here for You

 

Whether you are a first, second or third-time home-buyer, Dunhill Homes offers a vast array of stunning homes in gorgeous communities throughout North Texas.  At Dunhill Homes, our  professional team of financial experts have a relentless focus on making sure they leave no stone unturned, during the loan process for prospective home-buyers, to ensure their dream of home-ownership becomes a full-fledged reality.

 

Every home-owner wants to keep their monthly mortgage payments as low as possible; and ‘getting in’ while the ‘getting in’ is good, only makes sense.  At Dunhill Homes, we will do everything in our power to make sure that happens for you!