Happy Homeowners: The Hold Family

Our next Happy Homeowners interview brings us to the Hold family in Austin, Texas who purchased their new home in 2015.  Take a look and read about their experience building a new home with M/I Homes.


M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I Home and what convinced you to choose M/I Homes over another builder?

Johnna Hold: This is our first home with M/I and it was an easy decision. We looked at as many builders in our area as possible and the second we stepped into the M/I Homes model we knew it was a perfect fit for us. The other builders were offering “upgrades” that M/I was offering as items that were already included in the base price. There was a clean and classic, yet modern feel to what was being offered.

M/I: Are you happy with how your new home turned out?

JH: We are so happy with our home! We have been in one year and not one day goes by that we aren’t thrilled with our choice of building with M/I Homes.

M/I: What is the name of your floorpan and what features of your home do you especially love?

JH: We chose the Callahan and could not love it more. We love the layout and the large rooms. When you walk in, the entryway is large and feels so welcoming.

M/I: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes?  Did you get to pick out your homesite and the floorplan you wanted to build, or had the home already been started?

JH: We had an incredible experience with the process from start until finish. We had several lots to choose from that could accommodate our plan and add-ons. We picked out everything from the site to the grout – it was fantastic!

M/I:  Do you have any fun memories from the buying / building process?

JH: We loved stopping by to see the process and watching it come to fruition. Our kids loved walking the slab and envisioning their rooms.

M/I: Was there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

JH: When the floors were put in it felt like home and we wanted to move in right away!

M/I: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

JH: Our kids go to the school in the neighborhood and walk to and from school. They play in the street with friends and ride their bikes to the pool.

M/I: Anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

JH: Make sure you are getting the smartest fit for your family. Think “long run” when purchasing your home. We thought about how our kids would grow and mature and what would be a wise choice for the long haul in our new home.

M/I: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

JH: Our first Christmas in our new home is my favorite memory.  We are making new memories and starting new traditions. This Christmas we bought a real tree for the first time and it was a wonderful Christmas.

M/I: What is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space you would like to share?

JH: Our living room is our favorite gathering spot. It is where we all come together and relax.

M/I: What was something that surprised you the most with building / moving into a new home?

JH: Seeing everything from the ground up is a really neat experience. You have a whole different appreciation for your home. We also love being the original owners.

M/I: Any suggestions you would give to someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

JH: Go for it! We knew we wanted a third car garage and to convert a 1/2 bath into a full bath. Doing that on the front end is much more cost effective than doing it after. Make smart decisions that will add value to your home.  So often people pass up design options with the thought of “we will do it later”. You rarely get around to it – do it now!


**Johnna Hold is one of our wonderful homeowners in our Parkside at Mayfield Ranch community in Austin, Texas.  She has two children, William (12) and Anna (8) with her husband Will.  Will works in the Insurance Education and Johnna is a stay at home mom and home stager (can’t you tell from their beautiful decor?)


Preparing Your Yard & Garden for Fall: 5 Things to Do Now

The summer heat is finally gone, and gray clouds are amassing on the horizon. As the seasonal wheel of time rolls, we have to consider what fall brings at our doorsteps and garden beds. We all know that it shows its affection in a peculiar way, pouring down rain and summoning cool winds. Thus, you should give your oasis a seasonal makeover and prevent hazards. The art of planning is paramount to making your garden ready for the picturesque advent of fall, so free up some time in your schedule and grab the gravel weeks in advance.


One of the prime concerns is getting the landscape ready to face fall. First off, turn your attention to the flower garden, because its appearance on the end of the growing season is the result of your spring and summer efforts.  Then, take a stroll around the garden and access how the individual plants did. Identify those that have overgrown, and in need of additional space. If there are some bare areas, use some mulch, soil amendments, and extra plants. Most likely, the soil also craves for nutrients lost during the summer, so add some compost and peat moss.

Divide and conquer

Apart from dividing overgrown plants, you should do the same with perennials, which supplies you with new plants for other areas of the garden. Container plants are often overlooked, but do make this common mistake: They also require care in order to survive the following months. Likewise, remember that although annual plants last a year, there are ways to prolong their lifespan. This is made possible by stripping all leaves off, except for the top ones, keeping the potting moist, and avoiding direct sunlight. Finally, move the tropicals inside, as they can serve as excellent house plants during winter.

Green maintenance

Furthermore, deadhead faded blooms, weed, dig up more fragile bulbs, and assemble them for winter storage. Do not forget to check the health of plants and see whether some of them have fallen victim to diseases. Bear in mind that summer annuals are not fit for the weather shift, and put some cool-weather flowers like ornamental kale in their place. Also, the fall season is not the ideal time for pruning roses, so do not bother with cutting off the deadwood. At last, replace the ties with flexible, natural fibers, and once you do that, proceed to preparing the lawn.

Green, green grass of home

Note that sowing cool season grasses enables their root system to thrive and endure freezing temperatures. So, fertilize the lawn and allow turfgrasses to store food for winter months. Muse on a second application of the pre-selective herbicide, which does away with seeds deposited during summer months. Unlike non-selective herbicides, these ones target specific weeds and do not damage turf grass or plants. These activities may require you invest much time, but the peerless greenery will fill you with joy during the fall season.

Get active

Finally, know that outdoor furniture and other elements like patio and large shade sails are more vulnerable during the fall season. Still, the arrival bad weather does not mean that your outdoor activities need to suffer. Depending on your climate, fall should still give you plenty of reasons to enjoy the garden. Therefore, gardeners should consider applying a fresh coat of paint to exposed wood, and cleaning the surfaces of all that pollen and dirt. These steps should enable you to assemble a perfect natural sanctuary, which celebrates the grandeur of the cold season.

Plant the seeds

For better or worse, summer is making room for the heralds of fall, and that changes the face of nature, including our gardens as well. Do not wait for the fall weather to take hold: It is better to do the work on a sunny day and meet a rainy one with a confident smirk on the face. So, replace the old with the new, remove the annuals and plant them next year. Put your green fingers to good use, do the regular maintenance, and makes sure the landscape is prepared for the trials and tribulations of the fall.


**Lana Hawkins is an architecture student from Sydney. She enjoys writing about interior decoration and renovation, which she does regularly for Smooth Decorator. Lana is interested in sustainability and green building, as well as landscaping.

Happy Homeowners: The Reynolds Family

Our new Happy Homeowners interview brings us to the Reynolds family in Austin, Texas, who moved into their new M/I home earlier this year! Take a look at their thoughts about the process of buying their new home with M/I Homes!


M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I home and what convinced you to choose M/I Homes over another builder?

Donna Reynolds: Yes, this is our first M/I home.  We looked for a house for 6 months and talked to (and looked at) every builder in the area.  This was going to be our forever home so we wanted to make sure it was the right one.  We were impressed with M/I Homes from the very beginning.  Our sales consultant, Ursula Whitworth, was willing to stay to talk to us the first evening we came to look at homes, even when it was time for her to go home.  She was very positive and confident about building of an M/I home and put together a packet for us with homes she thought we might be interested in.  We liked all of the extras that M/I Homes includes, which we learned many builders count as upgrades.

M/I: Are you happy about how your home turned out?

DR: Yes, we love it. We did not build our home from the beginning, but instead bought an inventory home.  It was exactly what we were looking for.

M/I: What is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

DR: We bought the Rockport.  We love the openness of the kitchen and living room.  I can be cooking in the kitchen and still watch TV.  We also love the fact that our boys’ bedrooms are in the front of the home and we are in the back.  The master bath is gorgeous and there is a lot of room in the closet.  We also love our bedroom.  It is very spacious and we love the bay window.

M/I: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes. Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

DR: When we initially looked at the house, it wasn’t finished.  That was in January and it was completed in April, so we couldn’t get an exact picture of what it would look like totally finished until then.  When we did, we realized it was the home of our dreams.  It had everything we wanted in a home.

M/I: Was there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

DR: We loved the view from the large windows at the back of the house.  There is a rock wall that has a huge tree in a park across the street with a fountain, which is gorgeous. That is partly what sold my husband on the house.  He also has a beautiful view from his study and our bedroom which is in the back of the home as well.

M/I: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

DR: We absolutely love this neighborhood.  Everyone is very nice.  It is awesome to be one of the first families to move in, as we love seeing other families move into this awesome neighborhood.  We are proud to live in Palmera Ridge!

M/I: Anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

DR: If you’re looking for a new home in Austin, check with Ursula at the model home in Palmera Ridge. She is awesome.  You won’t feel pressured to buy and she is more than happy to answer questions you might have.  She will spend all the time you need to help you find the right home.

M/I: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

DR: We love sitting on our back porch and watching the stars at night.  For the 4th of July, we could see fireworks in all directions lighting up the night sky.  It was awesome.

Also, just being with family in the house, eating dinner and watching a movie or football with the boys.


The Reynolds are ready for Halloween!

M/I: What is your favorite space in your new home?

DR: It is really hard to say.  We love the openness of the kitchen and living room area.  I can cook and watch TV at the same time. My husband loves his office.  I love the kitchen.  We truly just love it all!

M/I: What was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

DR: We were very pleased with everyone we came in contact with who worked for M/I Homes.  From Ursula (the New Home Consultant we first met at the model home), to Kris Rowe (the closer on our home), to Scott Richter (who did a through walk-through before we closed on the home), everyone was extremely professional and helpful with any questions we had.  I can’t say enough good things about M/I Homes.  They are certainly top notch in our book and I would highly recommend them to anyone I know looking for a new home.

M/I:  Any suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

DR: Definitely consider M/I Homes in your home buying process.  We originally didn’t want to build and feel like we made the right decision with picking an inventory home.  We looked for six months for the right home and Palmera Ridge was the neighborhood we kept coming back to.  We looked at other quality builders but M/I Homes really was the one we were most impressed with.  We feel you get the most for your money with this builder.

Honestly, there is not a day that goes by that we don’t say “we love our home!”  We find ourselves wanting to come home each day and also on the weekends we end up just wanting to stay at home.  We are excited about the upcoming holidays and being able to entertain and have fun celebrating in our new home.  Thanks M/I Homes for making our dreams come true!


** Donna Reynolds is a M/I Homes homeowner in our Palmera Ridge community in Austin, Texas.  Her husband, Ron, and her boys enjoy watching football, eating dinner together as a family, and are excited for the holidays in their new home.



Top First-Time Buyer Markets

Despite interest rates hitting historically low and favorable levels, it’s a tough market for new home buyers across the U.S. Inventory is tight, especially for homes at entry-level price points in many markets.

However, major cities with sufficient inventory, affordability, and realistic median home values still exist. A recent Zillow study identified Indianapolis as the best city for first-time home buyers, since it has fewer cash buyers, lower home values, is more affordable, and has ample inventory.

Consider the following four cities for new home buyers, along with new construction communities from M/I Homes that might fit your must-have list.


With a large supply of homes for sale, searching for a home in Indianapolis is less stressful. The median home value is just $130,200, which keeps the mortgage-to-income ratio low at 11 percent. Indianapolis renters devote 26.1 percent of income toward housing.

New buyers searching for style and affordability might consider the Marlin Meadows community, where new construction homes start at $181,990. Marlin Meadows is situated in accessible and peaceful Franklin Township, with home sizes ranging between 1,433 and 4,200 square feet. 


The Windy City ranks fifth in the nation for first-time home buyers with a palatable median home value of $193,800. Because of high inventory and low cash-buyer competition, searching for a home in Chicago is less of a task. New home buyers in Chicago can expect to spend approximately 14 percent of a median-level income on a median mortgage. Chicago renters, on the other hand, shell out 31.1 percent of income toward rent.

At a starting price below the city’s median value, M/I Homes’ Sagebrook community in Lockport features new townhomes starting at $185,990 and new single family homes starting at 299,990. Residences range between two and five bedrooms in a modern design to satisfy today’s diligent house hunters. 


The median home value across Houston is a low $172,100 with a mortgage that comprises just 12.5 percent of the median income. Meanwhile, renters spend about 30.5 percent of income on their monthly dues. The Houston for-sale inventory is plentiful, giving buyers the negotiation power.

To circumvent resale competition, buying new construction in a community such as Bridgeland in Harris County starts at a reasonable $245,990 with homes ranging from 1,843 – 2,807 sq. ft.


Living in a tropical climate doesn’t have to come at a heavy cost. The median home value in Tampa is $163,600, assisted by high levels of inventory in the city. While renters in Tampa might spend 32.2 percent of their pay on rent, homeowners spend just 15.2 percent of wages on a mortgage. However, Tampa features a high volume of all-cash buyers.

Home buyers looking to spend under $200,000 in Tampa might consider a home at Talavera in Spring Hill, a new construction community with Mediterranean-style architecture, is rich with amenities, as well as has access to major sporting events and Sun West Park.

Whether you prefer the Midwest or South, first-time buyer markets make it easier for former renters to take advantage of low interest rates to lessen monthly costs.

** Tali Wee writes about finances, home improvement and interior design for Zillow and other partners.


Convert Your Garage Into a Bedroom – 12 Creative Ways

In the hope of making every space in your home valuable, garage conversions have become pretty common. Many homeowners convert unused garages to usable spaces like offices or bedrooms.

If you want more living spaces in your home, you might want to toy around with the idea of converting your garage into a bedroom. This bedroom can be a good spare room for guests or a new room for a new member of the family.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Install large windows. The usual mistake made by homeowners converting their garages is keeping the garage look in their new bedroom. To remedy this, install big windows. This gives a roomy and livable kind of feel to your newly converted garage.


  1. Transform it to a tropical paradise. Your original garage might look dry and sad, but your new bedroom does not have to suffer that same fate! Make your new space sunnier by adding tropical details. Go for pillows with palm trees and furniture that mimics tropical resorts. Wooden and rattan chairs make your space look classy and vacation-esque.


  1. Turn it into a comfortable guest room. An extra bedroom in your house can be a comfortable guest room if you frequently have family or friends over at home. You can even put two beds to accommodate more people.


  1. Insulation. This is an absolute necessary if you are converting a garage to a living space. Normally, garages don’t have adequate insulation. Installing insulation during conversion is an absolute necessity to keep guests or your family comfortable during the cold winters or hot summers.


  1. Add a homey vintage feel. If you are already starting to decorate your new space, you might want to stay away from the old feel of your garage. Create a homey feel to your new living space by utilizing vintage pieces.


  1. Go for colors. Ditch the dreary colors of your old garage by adding pops of colors all throughout your space. The easiest way to incorporate color in the bedroom is choosing bright sheets and pillowcases. If you are feeling adventurous and want to be bold, a brightly colored wall can add flair as well!


  1. Change up the door opening. Nothing shouts “I’m an old garage” more than having the usual garage door still in place. When converting your garage, make it a point to replace the doors. You can experiment and go for interesting ones. Large sliding doors can make your bedroom look classy and more spacious. Depending on the look of your home, you can change up your door to match its architecture and design.


  1. Keep it simple. After doing all the necessary steps in converting your home, the key to finishing it off is keeping things simple. You don’t need to go overboard with your bedroom (save your money for structural changes like larger windows, insulation, and changing your door). Just purchase the basic needs in a bedroom. Make sure you have a bed, mattress, dresser, and a bedside table. Once you get the basic needs covered, you can build on from there.


  1. Go modular. If you had a small garage and you want to make every inch matter, you can go modular. Incorporate storage spaces under the bed and create multiple uses for some furniture. This ensures that you have everything that you need in one small space.


  1. Turn it into a master bedroom. Large garages can be great for a master bedroom, especially if you need more space than what your home is already providing you. Transform it into a comfortable haven complete with a king-size bed and a nice dresser.


  1. Incorporate modern pieces. One way to make your room look like it wasn’t even a garage is to add modern furniture. Industrial and contemporary decorations can make the room feel more current instead of drab.


  1. Add rooftop elements. If you have money to spend, some rooftop design elements can make a huge difference in your garage conversion. You can add a roof deck or a simple dormer window to really mimic a livable space. This can be a fun addition to your home that your family will enjoy.


** Written by Kristy Jones,the blog author of A Click Away Remotes – Garage Door Opener and Remotes Blog.


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