Happy Homeowners: The Van Dusen Family

Our newest “Happy Homeowners” blog brings us to Scott and Donna Van Dusen, who recently built their new home in Tampa. Scott and Donna began their journey by choosing their lot and plan, and have shared with us their experience of the whole building process and living in their new 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 Homes over another builder?

Scott and DonnaThis is our first M/I home.  When we moved to Tampa, FL, we knew we had certain things we were looking for in the home we plan to retire in.  Our list wasn’t extensive, but we knew the specifics we had as requirements for our home.  With all of the builders we visited and all of the floorplans we looked at, M/I Homes was the only one that didn’t require any compromise with our needs and wants.  Right down to the lot we chose.

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

S/D: Yes!!!  Our home is everything we dreamed of.  After 6 months of living in our home, we both look around in disbelief that it is really ours. M/I was able to make this our dream home.

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

S/D: The Artilla.  The kitchen is everything we wanted, and the addition of the Butler’s Pantry was a really nice touch.  For me, the shower room was a big seller, and for my wife the bathtub.  The beautiful bay window in the breakfast nook overlooking our lake is picturesque.  I could list every item in our home and tell you it is something we especially love.

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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?

S/D: We had a fantastic experience with M/I Homes, and the experience started with Vicki.  She helped us picture every part of our home, right down to the view from the previously mentioned bay window. She helped us visualize what our home would become. Everything from the view to the endless possibilities we could have in our home. Vicki helped us not only detail all of the things we desired, but helped us discover some of the extras we now can’t live without.  Although she hoped we would buy one of the inventory homes, she led us to the perfect lot, and guided us through the design process, listening to all of the things we knew we wanted in our dream home.

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

S/D: Coming to the lot every weekend to see the progress of the week. Seeing all of our plans coming together, and imagining what would be when it was complete.  Of course, stopping by to see Vicki was fun as well.  Many laughs and long chats.

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

S/D: The Artilla met all of our requirements in a home.  Not a single compromise, which was a first in our search.  The things swaying us the most was the lake front lot, the beautiful bay window in the breakfast nook overlooking the lake, and the shower in the Master Bathroom.

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

S/D: Our home is in Estates at South Cove, a small gated community with just 47 homes and no CDD. All very important things we liked about our neighborhood.

M/IAnything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

S/D: Look at several builders, and make sure M/I is one of the builders you look at.  In our experience, no other builder compared.

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

S/D: Our favorite memory was sharing the excitement of moving in with our parents.  All of their help with the move, and their love of our new home was a special memory for us.  They were so proud and happy for us and the home we chose.

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

S/D: Our favorite space is the lanai and the pool.  We watch all of the wildlife on the lake, cool off in the pool, and watch beautiful sunsets.

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

S/D: We were most surprised by how involved we could be with the construction and how reactive Vicki and our Construction Superintendent, Charlie, were to our ideas.  They were happy to work with us to make these details part of the build.  They made some great suggestions too, making our home even more fantastic.

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

S/D: Make a list of everything you want and expect in your home.  For us, M/I offered the only floorplan with no compromises.  If your list is anything like ours and our neighbors’, chances are M/I will have everything you want in a home.

M/I: Anything else you would like to add?

S/D: We thank Vicki, Charlie, and M/I Homes with heartfelt sincerity.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  This has been a great experience building our dream home, and we now have some great new friends.

** Scott and Donna live in the Tampa area. They love to take in their pool and to watch the beautiful sunsets from the backyard of their new M/I home.

Happy Homeowners: The Wedemeyer Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Blog” is about Rebeca Wedemeyer, who purchased her new home in our Crown community in Maryland over a year and a half ago. Rebeca’s shared with us some of her thoughts and experiences with M/I’s building process!

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Rebeca and Maxi

M/I HomesIs this your first M/I home? What convinced you to choose M/I over another builder?

Rebeca: This is my first M/I home. The floorplan and layout are what sold me – hands down. It was creative and current and struck the right balance of relaxed and sophisticated.

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

RebecaI have the Picasso plan. There are several features I love. Unlike many townhome layouts, the front door (which is on the ground floor) opens to a spacious and well-lit family room. It’s perfect for inviting neighbors in for a glass of wine at the spur of the moment – which I do often!  Also, the main level has an open floorplan with plenty of windows that are perfect for entertaining and just as perfect for a relaxed night at home. And of course, the rooftop terrace and loft are delightful. Finally, I absolutely love the windows. They are virtually floor to ceiling and there are plenty of them!

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Plenty of windows in this fabulous living room!

M/I HomesOverall, 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?

RebecaI had a great experience. I moved from across the street and had had my eye on this development and the specific lot I picked. I got to start from scratch and select features to my taste.

M/I HomesDo you have any fun memories from building process?

RebecaLike most of us, I’m busy so I was glad the process was smooth and hassle-free. That said, some of the guys on the job got a big kick of me and Maxi (my 5-pound fox terrier) visiting the site often. I guess that’s the hazard of living across the street. They always seemed to enjoy the break!

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

RebecaThe community itself is very well-designed. But when I saw the M/I Picasso model, I was sold!

M/I HomesWhat do you like about your neighborhood / community?

RebecaThere are several things I like about the community. First, there is plenty of space between homes. We have two-car garages and driveways which means there’s quite a bit of space between you and the neighbors behind you. It’s quite spacious in the front as well which is very unique in a townhome community. Also, they’ve done a great job creating green spaces and meeting places throughout the community. I have an end unit which overlooks a large landscaped brick pathway which leads right downtown. Neighbors and I will often meet on the benches to chat.

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

RebecaWell, I would say the old adage – location, location, location – holds true. It’s worth your time to ensure that the location itself meets your lifestyle. Not only the general community but also the lot itself. I chose a “premium” lot with extra charges that were hefty. My friends thought I was nuts! Now that I’ve been here for a year and a half, they all get it. I’ve got the most beautiful views of green spaces and because I’m located literally in the center of the community on the walkway, I know all of my neighbors. I think sometimes people can be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to buying a house but living space and community are very important to me and there are few investments as reliable as real-estate. So why not live where you want.

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

RebecaI have organized three block parties since I’ve lived here. Without a doubt meeting all my wonderful neighbors and helping to build a positive community has been a real blessing.

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

RebecaThat’s a tricky one. I have several “favorite spaces” which is one thing I love so much about the home. In the mornings, I love sitting downstairs on the first floor with my morning cup of coffee. The paint colors look beautiful in the morning sun and unlike many ground floors, it is always cozy. On most evenings, I like curling up on the couch in the living room. I can see the entire community and often passing neighbors will look up to see if I’m around and want to come walk dogs together. In the winters, Maxi and I love the family room fireplace (off the kitchen) and we tend to spend a lot of time there. I also often work from home and have built my office right into the main living area. It’s beautiful. Finally, the kitchen is one of my favorite spots. It’s both beautiful and well-designed. I often use the expansive island as my “standup office,” and of course, when I have people over, we rarely make it to any other part of the house!

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Rebeca’s spacious kitchen and large island

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

RebecaI’m fairly decisive and have had a new home built before so I didn’t have any surprises. No surprises is a good thing!

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

RebecaI’d suggest asking to meet a homeowner or two with your same home plan. Most people are happy to show off their new home and they can often answer simple questions for you and also let you know what they’d do differently, if anything. Also, and this applies to any builder, take a risk and upgrade some features that are important to you. You’d be surprised how much a few key aspects can change the entire feel of your home. For me, I wanted the top of the line hardwood, kitchen cabinets, and iron pickets for my stairs but was just fine with the basics on other options.

**Rebeca lives in the DC area. When she’s not relaxing in her lovely M/I home with her dog Maxi, she can be found socializing with her neighbors.

Thinking About Buying in Chicago?

By Tali Wee

If you’re considering moving to Chicago anytime soon, you’ll be glad to know that it’s ranked one of the top buyers markets and best places for first-time buyers.

The housing market across the country is still highly competitive, outpricing first-time buyers who typically have smaller down payments than other shoppers or investors. Zillow evaluated major metros nationwide to determine markets with the most opportunity for first-time buyers, looking at home values, affordability, inventory and the amount of competition from all-cash buyers. Chicago was ranked fifth, with a median home value of $203,700. Homeowners in Chicago spend 14 percent of their income on their mortgages.

Homes move so quickly in many markets that shoppers must make snap decisions to compete, leading to a stressful or regretful experience. Fortunately, inventory is high in Chicago, allowing buyers time to shop around before making the serious decision to purchase. Chicago ranks second in the country as the best buyers’ market for 2016. The extensive inventory grants buyers more negotiating power with sellers. Plus, sellers offer more price cuts to prevent homes from sitting on the market too long.

If you’re less interested in available properties and more drawn to custom homes, the city also offers several new construction developments. Burlington Meadows is a small community in North Naperville offering single-family homes, wooded views, and spacious backyards. Lehigh Station is also in Dupage County, in Aurora, offering more contemporary townhomes surrounded by walking paths and quick access to retail and restaurants.

The Lakewood Prairie community is located in Joliet, about 45 miles southwest of the Chicago Loop, offering single-family homes along with a club house including a pool, tennis court, sand volleyball area, and playground. Kearney Glen, near Lakewood Prairie, is a new development of single-family homes with open floorplans, offering community attractions such as a pond and playground. Depending on what you’re looking for, you should be able to actualize your dream home in one of the many communities near Chicago.

Whether you’re customizing a new home, landing a move-in-ready property or adding your own touch to a fixer-upper, you’re likely to have some of the best buying luck in Chicago this year. 

For reference:

Top Buyers’ Markets

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

Best Places for First-Time Home Buyers

  1. Indianapolis, IN
  2. Pittsburgh, PA
  3. Memphis, TN
  4. Cleveland, OH
  5. Chicago, IL
  6. Oklahoma City, OK
  7. Louis, MO
  8. Houston, TX
  9. Tampa, FL
  • Birmingham, AL

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%.

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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.

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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).

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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 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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