Where Should Buyers Shop For Homes in 2016?

By Tali Wee

Buying a home is even harder than just a year ago, as fewer homes are available and buyers in many desirable markets are falling subject to bidding wars and incredibly steep buying competition. The best way to locate your dream home is to begin shopping in areas where buyers have the most negotiating power. When inventory is high, shoppers have more options to choose from and sellers are more eager to accept offers.

Researchers at Zillow narrowed down a list of the top 10 buyers’ markets by evaluating locations with the most price cuts and the longest average number of days for-sale homes sit on the market. If you’re thinking of buying a home soon, you’ll have the most luck in the following markets.

The Top 10 Markets for Home Buyers

  1. Philadelphia, PA
  2. Chicago, IL
  3. Baltimore, MD
  4. Hartford, CT
  5. New York/ Northern New Jersey
  6. Miami, FL
  7. Indianapolis, IN
  8. Jacksonville, FL
  9. Virginia Beach, VA
  10. Orlando, FL

Across the U.S., the median home value is $187,000, making a standard 20% down payment around $37,400. Although buyers these days can finance homes with less than 20 percent down, acquiring a mortgage is a major financial decision. You want to make sure you’re buying a home at a price you feel confident matches its value.

Homes in Philadelphia cost a bit less than the national rate, with a median value of $121,800. Plus, homes in Philly are expected to rise in value throughout the year, appreciating an additional 2.7% – slightly faster than the expected national lift of 2.4%.

BurlingtonMeadows

Burlington Meadows

If you’re looking to buy in Chicago, values sit at $203,700 with an anticipated 2.8% appreciation by year’s end. Besides the obvious appeal of such a major city making the list, Chicago offers many small communities with new homes that may meet your shopping must-haves. Check out your new construction options in Sagebrook offering both townhomes ($185,990) and single family homes ($305,990) Lehigh Station ($249,990), Lakewood Prairie ($215,990) and Kearney Glen ($199,990).

HickoryRidge

Hickory Ridge

A little more than halfway down the list of ideal markets for buyers is Indianapolis. In seventh place, Indianapolis offers new construction communities such as, Mapleton at Wynne Farms ($195,990), Greenwood Station ($192,990) Cumberland Farms ($181,990) and Marlin Meadows ($176,990). Although these homes are priced above the state median home value of $116,000, the communities offer grand homes with accessible green spaces, clubhouses, and even schools. Plus, homes in Indiana are expected to appreciate another 2.8% within the year.

FawnLake

Fawn Lake

Virginia Beach can expect far less appreciation this year, just 0.7%, but home values already stand at $248,800 – more expensive than Philadelphia, Chicago, or Indiana properties. If you’re on the hunt for new constructions in the state of Virginia, check out townhomes at Overlook at Cascades ($539,990), the gated community of Fawn Lake ($371,990), or luxury urban residences at Majesty West ($1,189,000).

SummerlakeGroves

Summerlake Groves

Lastly, the city of Orlando squeaked in at the bottom of the list of top markets for home buyers. Home values ($150,700) are closest with properties in Philadelphia – much cheaper than in Virginia Beach. Additionally, Orlando homes should jump in value throughout the year by a huge 4.2%. If you’re shopping for new construction homes in Orlando, consider single-family homes in Econ Landing (216,990), Hickory Hammock featuring both single family homes ($287,990) and townhomes ($232,990) or Summerlake Groves featuring both single family homes ($266,990) and townhomes ($227,990)

Regardless of where you shop for homes, prepare beforehand by getting preapproved for a loan and finding a lender you trust. That way, when you find your dream property, you’re ready to buy without the added pressure of completing all the necessary paperwork in a few short days.

Popular Places to Move near Houston, Texas

Houston is an attractive relocation spot for many young professionals, families, retirees and individuals in between. With a healthy job market, no state income tax, attractive annual forecast and endless options for home-style barbeque, Houston is a unique metro mixing Texas charm with urban edge. Houston’s real estate market is one of very few in the nation to withstand the Great Recession of 2008, mostly due to the city’s involvement in the energy sector. In 2007, national home values fell 29 percent while Houston home values remained relatively stagnant.

Almost a decade later Houston property prices are still thriving. In the past year, home values in Houston have increased 8.5 percent, and Zillow predicts another 3.4 percent increase in the next year alone. The median home value is currently sitting at $141,300, making the city a relatively affordable spot compared to some of the other major urban dwellings throughout the United States.

If you’re considering a move to Houston to benefit from the strong real estate market but still crave a more suburban vibe, consider the following communities.

Augusta Creek Ridge

Located just 30 miles north of downtown Houston, and only 15 minutes off of I-45, the homes within Augusta Creek Ridge are designed with luxury in mind. Large cul-de-sacs and corner lots provide extra privacy for families or individuals seeking additional ground space. Homes in Augusta Creek come in 3, 4 or 5 bedroom plans, ranging from around 2,300 to 3,800 square feet. The community is conveniently located within the Klein Independent School District for families with school-aged children. The master planned community of Augusta Pines offers a semi-private, 18-hole golf club and a public clubhouse. Residents of Augusta Pines can also spend time relaxing by the community swimming pool, fishing pond and tennis courts. The community park offers a lap pool, splash pool, swimming pool and clubhouse.

Laurel Park

With waterfront views, Laurel Park homes are nothing short of spectacular. The community is located in Spring, TX, just 24 miles of downtown Houston. However, with a quiet surrounding, filled with biking trails, you won’t feel the stress of the city in Laurel Park.  Homes in Laurel Park are constructed on 60, 70 or 80 foot wide lots, and range from 2,263 to 5,509 square feet. Like Augusta Creek Ridge, some Laurel Park homes are also situated on cul-de-sacs for added privacy.

McKenzie Park

Featuring greenbelt trails, three well-stocked and illuminated lakes, a swimming pool with splash pad, Recreation Center, Tres Largos in McKenzie Park is a beautiful, new master-planned community in Spring, TX. Located 1 mile North of the Grand Parkway, 4 miles west of 1-45 and the Hardy Toll Road, and 3 miles south of The Woodlands. McKenzie Park is in the highly acclaimed Klein Independent School District. Families who choose to call this community home.

With waterfront lots available, the gated section of Tres Lagos in McKenzie Park will feature single and two-story homes ranging from 3,885 – 5,509 square feet, and offering sophisticated, smartly designed, open floor plans. These new homes will feature vast entertaining areas along with a variety of options and upgrades suitable for today’s most discerning families.

For all Houston communities, M/I Homes is proud to offer Whole Home energy savings, in-house financing and a 10-year transferable structural warranty. To start your journey to Texas and the greater Houston area, contact M/I Homes for more information.

** Jennifer Riner writes about rentals, home improvement and design for Zillow.

 

50 Cheap and Easy Way to Boost the Saleability of your Home

2016 might be the year that you’re putting your home on them market to get into a new home.  If that’s the case, check out these easy ways to boost the salability of your home!
boost-saleability

 

Read the full post on these cheap and easy ways to get ready to sell your home from Stormclad.  

ExxonMobil Spurs Growth: New Tomball & Klein ISD Schools + Master-Planned Communities

Reblog from PinkArmadillo.com by Jennifer Grassman

Northwest Houston is seeing incredible community growth. Tomball has seen a population increase of nearly 23% in 15 years, and things seem to be just ramping up. The influx of new residents has necessitated the building of new schools, shopping centers, roads, and neighborhoods, including some luxury residences that are absolutely stunningly.

Much of Northwest Houston’s growth can be attributed to ExxonMobil’s new North Houston location in Spring. The oil industry giant is constructing a state-of-the-art “campus” designed to accommodate 10,000 employees. Located off I-45 and The Hardy Toll Road, ExxonMobil Houston will serve as headquarters for all of the company’s Upstream, Downstream, and Chemicals companies, bringing an untold number of oil industry jobs to the area.

New Tomball & Klein ISD Schools

Over the next five years, Tomball ISD expects a whopping 3,700 new students. That’s almost 30% of their current enrollment. To accommodate, three new schools – Wildwood Elementary, Oakcrest Intermediate, and Creekview Elementary – are opening this August. A fourth school, Creekside Park Junior High, is slated to open in 2016.

But Tomball isn’t the only Texas ISD feeling the crunch.

Highly acclaimed Klein ISD is projecting that by 2020, five of their schools will be over capacity. In preparation, French Elementary opens its doors next month.

The as-yet-unnamed Elementary School No. 31 is set to open in 2016, with High School No. 5 to open in 2017. Plans for a Pre-Kindergarten school are also underway. In all, Klein ISD is investing $283,641,612 into building new schools and expanding existing locations.

Beautiful New Communities

The influx of new residents is also necessitating the development of new neighborhoods, and we’re not just talking cookie-cutter housing here. Some of the burgeoning communities in Northwest Harris County are incredibly upscale, ranging in value from $300,000 to over $1,400,000 per home.

In fact, the average value of homes in Tomball has risen dramatically from about $180,000 in 2012 to $360,000 in 2015.

Information via http://www.Zillow.com

One classy example of a new North Houston neighborhood is McKenzie Park. A master-planned community in Spring, it’s a quick 3 mile drive from ExxonMobil, and zoned for Klein ISD.

M/I Homes is among the builders developing McKenzie Park.

Among the builders developing McKenzie Park, M/I Homes is constructing some beautiful two-story houses, which include numerous lakefront properties. The homes boast sophisticated architecture, first floor masters, media rooms, designer touches, and fantastic spaces for Texas-sized entertaining.

Access to the community’s resort style swimming pool and splash pad is another amenity well worth noting.

More within the financial reach of upper-middle-class families, and zoned for Klein ISD, is Laurel Park, M/I Homes’ newest North Houston community. Within 10 miles of ExxonMobil, residents will enjoy quick access to 249, FM 2920, and the Grand Parkway. Laurel Park home prices range from $299,990 – $636,990.

With all these elegant new communities in construction, the whole northwest Houston area is expected to see a rise in property value, an increase in upscale shopping, and of course more funding for local charities, churches, and community initiatives from the new residents who are packing to move in.

An elegant interior view of “The Kathryn,” an M/I Homes model available in Houston area communities, including Laurel Park.

Love looking at model homes? View More M/I Homes Photos Here.

 

** Jennifer Grassman is a mother of two little girls, Jennifer Grassman is a writer, recording artist, and work-at-home mom. She publishes a Northwest Houston community magazine, The Pink Armadillo, and serves as Marketing Director for GeniSoft Water filtration systems.

Awesome Landscaping Improvements for Summer

Is there anything better than a long summer day? Make the most of the sunshine and warm weather by upgrading your landscaping to make your home your favorite spot to hang out this summer. Fire up the grill, cut up some watermelon, and cool off with a frozen drink in your own personal outdoor oasis. Whether you decide to invite some friends over or curl up with a good book, just don’t forget your sunscreen! Here are some simple suggestions on how to upgrade your landscaping to make the most out of this summer.

Choose Plants that Thrive in Your Area to Create Lush Greenery

Your lawn may be in great shape, but how can you add to it this summer to really maximize your green space? If you are interested in a vegetable garden, Urban Farmer has a calendar that offers helpful suggestions for what to plant throughout the summer. Beans, beets, carrots, corn, herbs, melons, and peas all thrive in direct sunlight and warm weather. Summer is also a great time to plant perennials. They are on sale at most nurseries and with little attention (regularly prune dead leaves and flowers) will bloom well into the Fall. If your aim is to keep fresh flowers in your home try blanketflower, coreopsis, salvia, or bee balm (attracts hummingbirds). I also like to plant lavender, citronella, basil, and lemongrass as they are great at repelling pesky mosquitoes and no-see-ums.

Add a Natural Element to Your Walkways

Abandon the concrete slab for a more natural look. Consider creating a simple walking path through your garden or yard using mulch or gravel. Build a walkway with natural stone or small stepping stones that allow grass to come through adding a burst of color and a fun design. You may also want to build a charming garden arbor using repurposed wood–a great way to grow climbing plants that will also add some much needed shade on especially hot days. To make your own garden arbor, follow the instructions in this tutorial.

Outdoor Lighting

Make Game-Night Big!

Lawn games have come a long way from croquet and badminton. Giant DIY versions of Jenga, Twister, and Scrabble allow you to enjoy your favorite classic games with a larger group outdoors. Buzzfeed has a list of 27 DIY backyard games that will keep you and your family entertained all summer.

Incorporate a Water Feature

Whether or not you have a pool, you still may want to think about incorporating a water feature. Fountains and pondless waterfalls can add value to your home, while also drowning out the noise of street traffic and neighbors. The sound of a water feature can also help you unwind, while providing a welcoming space for bird, butterflies, and frogs to visit.

Install Lighting that Highlights Your Landscaping

Quality outdoor lighting is important to your home’s security. It makes your home look occupied and lived-in, even when you are on vacation or out for the evening, and it eliminates dark spaces that are attractive to would-be burglars looking for easy access to your home. Beyond that, outdoor lighting highlights your landscaping and means that backyard barbeques can continue well into the night. Tiki torches or mason jar lanterns can also add a festive element while repelling bugs.

Create Space to Linger

With all of the great plants, lighting, and games that you’re adding to your outdoor space, don’t forget to create a spot where you can relax and soak it all in. All you need is a comfortable chair and a flat surface for the newspaper, a book, and your morning cup of coffee. Simple pleasures have never felt so guilty!

Outdoor Relaxation Space

 

**Guest Blogger: Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize.

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