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.

Happy Homeowners: The Fenno Family

This “Happy Homeowners Interview” brings us to Megan Fenno, who recently purchased her new M/I home in Cincinnati with her husband and 5 year-old son. Megan has shared the experience of building her new home with M/I Homes!

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

Megan: This is our first M/I home. There were a lot of factors that contributed to our decision to move and build with M/I, but criteria that topped our list was location, a sense of community, a good school district, and a home builder that had a variety of options and floor plans to choose from. As my husband and I both work in creative fields, the last thing we wanted to do was build a uber traditional ‘cookie cutter’ home, which is often what is available when building new. Megan wrote more about how she chose her lot and what factors played a role in the decision here.

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

Megan: The home exceeded our expectations. The little things and attention to detail made us appreciate the experience that much more. For example, since our house is facing west, we wanted to add a covered porch off of the kitchen to help block some of the evening sun. We were very surprised when we started to see it being built and all it included — such as recessed lighting, metal rails, etc.

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

Megan: We originally were going to build the Sorrel, but after my husband modeled that floorplan and the floorplan for the Cooke, we decided the Cooke was a better option for us.

We liked that the plan was so open and had the ability to remove the fifth bedroom, which is what we decided to do.

The plan works for us because we are both able to have our own office space upstairs, a large master bedroom, and a bedroom with a walk-in closet for our 5 year-old son. Plus the open main floor is great for entertaining! Mean wrote more about how she chose her layout and floor plan on her blog here.

M/I Homes: 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?

Megan: Because we were one of the first to build in the neighborhood, we had a lot of options when it came to the selection of the lot and style of our home. Our experience was great, honestly.

When I’d tell people that we were building a home, I’d often get comments about how time consuming and hard it must be. While it can be time consuming up front, the process was smooth from start to finish.

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

Megan: On Christmas day, we took a photo to share on social media of the three of us standing in front of the new home captioned, “First Christmas in our new home.” I got a lot of laughs.

In all seriousness though, our son probably enjoyed the process just as much as us, if not more. He loved seeing all of the changes each time we went on weekends to see the progress. I know it will be something he’ll remember the rest of his life, like the first time he was able to walk into HIS room!

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

Megan: All of the space! This isn’t our first home, but before deciding to build, we tried out the urban living scene and had lived in a small apartment in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. While it was a LOT of fun, we missed having space to spread out. The next thing I thought about was all of the DIY projects I could do with extra space and places to spread out. Needless to say, I’ve been busy!

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

Megan: The neighborhood is unique to Cincinnati’s westside and there isn’t anything quite like it anywhere else. I like that there won’t be any through-traffic and that most of the people that are moving in tend to have a lot in common. Most have one or two young children, so I can see a lot of new friends and playdates galore in the near future!

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

Megan:  It’s not something you want to jump into. It’s one of the biggest purchases of your life, and just as you would do research before buying a larger item, such as reading reviews, doing the same when looking for a new home is important.

Here’s what we did: We sat down with a pen and notebook and made a list of what we’d want if we could have any home. From there we prioritized the list and decided on what’s most important. For us it was finding a home we could stay in long term with the ability to build equity. Other things that topped our list were being in a good school district and having a sense of community in the neighborhood.

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

Megan: The day we moved. It was means to a fresh and new beginning and I will always remember walking in shortly after closing and thinking, “I can’t believe this day is FINALLY here!” After planning and daydreaming for so many months, it’s surreal to finally move in.

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

Megan: Our favorite space is probably the back deck. The sunsets are spectacular!

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

Megan: All of the options to customize our home. I mean, we had the ability to pick everything from bigger aspects, like the brick color, to even the tiniest of details, like the knobs on the bathroom vanities.

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

Megan: Have an idea of what you’re looking for prior to starting the process. I think that helped us a lot when picking the floorplan and during our design center trip. Pinterest is a really helpful tool when looking for design inspiration!

**Megan lives in the Cincinnati area with her husband John and her 5 year-old son. She is a blogger at meganfenno.com and also works as an accessory designer. She and her family have moved from downtown Cincinnati to their new M/I home in the city’s suburbs.

Happy Homeowners: The Cohen Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Interview” features Merrill and Karen Cohen, who bought their home in Maryland.  The Cohens shared their experience of the entire homebuilding process with M/I Homes, from choosing their homesite to making interior design choices and were excited to share their experience with us!

Cohen

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

Merrill: Yes, this is our first M/I home.  There were three builders in the development where we wanted to purchase a new home.  One builder’s homes were too large; the other builder’s home plans were too small.  The M/I home was just right!

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

Merrill: The floorplan is called the Picasso.  We especially enjoy the large kitchen/great room area.  It’s perfect for hanging out and entertaining.  We also enjoy the loft area which has turned into a mancave.

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

Merrill: We picked the lot and floorplan.  We especially liked working with Chris and using the design center to choose all the options to personalize the home to match our decorating vision.

M/I Homes: Do you have any fun memories from building?

Merrill: Our prior house was nearby and we visited the site regularly to watch the progress.  We  enjoyed seeing the home develop from a hole in the ground to the finished product.  We brought our dog over before the house was finished to let her see her new home.  She immediately marked her territory!

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

Merrill: The kitchen/great room area immediately caught our attention.  We spend most of our time there and the room was exactly what we were looking for: a large, but informal space for hanging out and entertaining.

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

Merrill: This is a new development which includes retail and restaurants along with residential areas.  We like being able to walk around the neighborhood or walk to the restaurants and bars.  The neighborhood also has great access to the highways and is very convenient.

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

Merrill: I would advise someone buying a new home to look for a builder that will encourage communication and will easily resolve issues that will inevitably come up.  This is the third new home we have bought.  There are always problems and issues.  It is important for the homeowner to be vigilant and ensure that the home is properly built.  We found M/I to be very receptive to any issue that we presented and resolved problems without hesitation.

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

Merrill: We particularly enjoyed the process of turning the house into our home.   From watching it being built, and participating in the design, to the final decorating process.  We also enjoy watching the neighborhood turn into a community.  One particular memory that stands out was during the blizzard of 2016 (36″ of snow).  From walking down (and closing) the neighborhood bar with a few neighbors, to helping neighbors shovel their driveways, to watching the plows come dig us out (while our old neighborhood was still snowed in!).

M/I Homes: Any additional comments?

Merrill: It was great working with Chris.  She is a real asset to the company.  We also particularly like working with Joe from the service department.

**Merrill and Karen Cohen live in a new community in Gaithersburg, MD. They have downsized from a large single family home to a new M/I townhome in a smart urban living community, which provides a city living experience without all the city living inconveniences. They enjoy taking advantage of all the shopping and dining that are just a short walk away. Life is good!

 

If you’re interested in learning more about new homes in Maryland, please contact us today!

Boost Curb Appeal With Fabulous Fencing

As you search for the perfect spring flowers to liven up your garden after the harsh winter months, keep in mind that there are a few extra outdoor elements that should be updated as well. First, dust off and reposition your front yard accessories for a fresh new outdoor vibe. Second, make sure you have your lawn, shrubs and flowers manicured to show off your beautiful exterior. Last but not least, update your fencing. Fabulous fencing not only acts as an extra layer of security or privacy for your yard, but it also gives a tremendous boost in curb appeal. Here are our top four options for a brand new fence.

  1. Wood Fencing

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Durable and classic, there is nothing quite like a beautiful new wood fence. Its unique grains and patterns make wood fencing feel more organic than other types, so this style works best with contemporary or transitional exteriors. Wood fences are typically less expensive than other materials. However, they do require some maintenance from time to time to prevent warping and discoloration. Should privacy and security be your two biggest necessities, this fence style is right up your alley. It’s also easy to stain or paint to suit your home’s exterior palette.

  1. Vinyl Fencing

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 Looking for low maintenance and high style? Vinyl fencing might be your design solution. It’s stronger than wood and can stand up to the elements—plus, you won’t need to repaint it nearly as often. It’s also easy to install, making it a great weekend project if you love DIY. Vinyl is typically used for privacy fencing, picket fencing, or as a safe and stylish way to block off a swimming pool. This style plays well with all types of homes, from modern to traditional to rustic.

  1. Metal Fencing

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If durability is your main concern, we suggest taking a look at metal fencing options. These fences are gaining popularity, especially in homes with a distinguishable transitional exterior style. Materials like steel, cast iron, and aluminum are all sturdy and stylish. They come in a multitude of different configurations to show off your exterior without sacrificing privacy or safety. Metal fences can act as small, decorative elements for your garden or as the main fence for your entire backyard.

  1. Composite Fencing

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Last but not least, composite fencing offers a fresh alternative to common fencing solutions with the look of real wood but the low-maintenance and worry-free design of vinyl. Budget-friendly and durable, composite fencing works best with traditional, transitional, and modern homes.

Complement your new fencing with a new arrangement of spring florals and ferns and beautiful patio furniture to match. What is your favorite fencing style? How do you use it boost your home’s curb appeal?

Kerrie Kelly is an interior designer who gives advice on creating beautiful spaces both indoors and outside. To view a selection of wood fencing options like those that Kerrie talks about in this article, visit www.homedepot.com.

Happy Homeowners: The Szymkowiak Family

This month’s “Happy Homeowner Interview” brings us to Lindsey Szymkowiak, who recently bought her new home in Cincinnati with her husband Jakub.  Lindsey shared with us her experience of choosing and living in her M/I home.

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

Lindsey: Actually this is our second M/I home. We needed more space since our family was growing. We loved our current community and our home so we decided to build again with M/I.

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

Lindsey: We absolutely love our home, and can’t wait to celebrate our children’s birthday party this year at our home with friends and family.

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

Lindsey: We chose to build the Sorrel Classic. We loved the open first floor and also having the loft upstairs for the kids to have as a play area or relax and watch some TV.

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

Lindsey: We were able to pick our floorplan and lot. This made it nice because we were able to choose everything we wanted. Overall, it was a great experience.

M/I Homes: Do you have any fun memories from building your home?

Lindsey: We were lucky because we lived in the same neighbor as my in-laws during our build, so we got to watch every single step. I would say our fun memories were watching the daily changes take place and knowing that it was one step closer to being our new home.

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

Lindsey: Our neighborhood is amazing!  There are beautiful walkways, parks for the kids to play, amazing neighbors, and it’s convenient to the highway and other places within the area. We also have a neighborhood group that puts together many different activities throughout the year which are great for the families and the kids.

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

Lindsey: You will know if it’s right for you. If you have questions, ask, don’t wait until it’s too late. Most importantly, the sales team is awesome and they want to get you into your dream home; let them work with you on your budget. Talk to residents, ask them their thoughts about the neighborhood and their home.

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

Lindsey: We wanted our first night to be memorable so we all slept together in the bed. Also having our first of many holidays.

M/I Homes:  Any additional comments?

Lindsey: Our New Home Consultant, Michael Slone, is amazing and great to work with. The design center ladies were excellent too. It’s a good thing they have snacks and cartoons!  It made things so much easier with having to bring the kids!

**Lindsey and Jakub Szymkowiak live in the Cincinnati area. She is a stay at home mom that loves being able to stay with her beautiful children, and her husband Jakub is a Sales Rep with Smith and Nephew. They recently purchased their new home in September of 2015. They have two children, Sophia (3 years old) and Jakub (1 year old), and a loving chocolate lab named Jack (12 years old). They love being a part of of the M/I family and the community. They also love having the neighborhood parks and sidewalks to go out as a family each night for a walk.

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