News & Events Blog

8 Important Steps to Take When Buying a New Home in Bucks County

Categories: Bucks County, Bucks County Homes, Home Buying Tips, New Homes in Bucks County | Posted: January 15, 2021

For many homebuyers, purchasing a new home is a big event. As you begin looking for a builder and thinking about the perfect design, there are several steps to familiarize yourself with so that you are ready for this exciting adventure.

 

As a future homeowner, it is good to know a few things about modern floor plans, interior design terms, project timelines and financial planning. It is also important to choose a trusted, reputable company to work with such as Hallmark Homes Group. Once you are set in these areas, you can look forward to customizing the layout of your house and planning a finished product that will fulfill all of your living needs.

1. See the Big Picture

At this phase, you will need to get specific about what sort of a home you are looking for in terms of how many bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen size, whether you want lots of “shared” family areas, recreation rooms, guest quarters, luxury features for the master suite, outdoor deck, home office, finished basement and more. An ideal builder will have a diverse array of layouts and floor plans and they will be flexible if you wish to alter certain design aspects to better suit your needs. Once you find a suitable floor plan and an accommodating builder, you can then fine tune the layout to perfection.

2. Clarify the Features

A reputable builder will have model homes which you can tour in order to experience the layout and get an idea of what your finished house will feel like. At this phase, you can clarify which features in the model home are standard and which are upgrades. These can vary in appearance and aesthetic and include things such as appliances, countertops, flooring, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, security hardware, electronic components, luxury master suite details and more. Your preferences may determine the overall price of the finished home — so it is important to discuss the fine details with the company representative.

3. Question Quality

When shopping for a Bucks County new home builder, you will want to look into the types of  materials being used by each company. You should be aware of the top-rated names in components such as flooring, countertops, roofing materials, plumbing fixtures and appliances. Also, quality materials play an important role in energy efficiency. These components include exterior doors, windows and insulation materials. A discussion with a company representative can give you valuable insight into the quality of the finished product.

4. Understand Scheduling

Just as the ideal company should accommodate your custom floor plan, you should also be flexible when it comes to the timeline of your build. The reason for this is that building new homes in Bucks County, just like everywhere else, involves numerous teams of specialized tradespeople, company representatives and building inspectors. Each phase of the construction process depends on the current team finishing their work and being approved before the next step can begin. This process is susceptible to delays due to bad weather, materials being held up in shipping and personnel issues.

5. Add it All Up

When working out your current finances and buying budget, it is essential to take an “all-inclusive” approach. This involves accounting for all of your routine expenditures so that you can comfortably make your monthly mortgage payments while fulfilling other financial obligations. It is essential to note that in addition to your mortgage, there are likely to be other recurring fees such as homeowner’s association (HOA) dues, insurance, quarterly property taxes and utility bills. At this phase, you should be aware that there are many types of financing available depending on your financial profile. You may qualify for creative financing through your builder’s preferred lenders from programs sponsored by the FDA, USDA and/or the VA.

6. Know Your Builder

When purchasing a new construction home, it is a good idea to look into the company, their previous work and their reputation among the community at large. A top-rated company, such as Hallmark, will have plenty of model homes to tour, company representatives to meet with and glowing reviews on their website. When researching the company, be sure to read the testimonials from satisfied customers, scroll through the suite of gorgeous floor plans and to look over their series of breathtaking neighborhoods.

7. Fine Tune the Finish

Once you have partnered with the right team of building professionals, it is time to determine the fine details and exact specifications of how your new home will look and feel. This can be based on your personal preferences in style and design, and on what you determined which features are standards, which are upgrades and what your budget will accommodate. Features to think about here are paint color (different schemes in each room or a consistent theme throughout the house), built-in shelves, wood beam ceiling trim, appliances, cabinets, molding, flooring, luxury bathroom upgrades, etc.

8. Walk Through and Approve

The final phases of your building project will require a hands-on, teamwork approach between you and your company representative. As your unique selection of custom features are being installed, you can inspect the work at the separate phases of completion of the walls, floors, lighting, windows, doors, cabinets, countertops, tiled areas, and plumbing fixtures. Also, this phase will require that you review the exterior characteristics which you may have requested to be customized such as landscaping, driveways and sidewalks. At this time, you will also have the opportunity to point out any minor details you would like fixed, changed or fine-tuned. These are then written out on a “punch list” and given to the builder to complete before you move in. At this point, you have reached what is known as “substantial completion,” and you can look forward to closing on the property.

 

Knowing the numerous phases of the homebuying process can help you have a successful, smooth experience. Contact us to learn more about building your ideal custom home.

New Homes in Bucks County are Surrounded by a World of Holiday Wonder

Categories: Bucks County, New Homes in Bucks County, Things to do in Bucks County | Posted: December 28, 2020

As wintertime settles in, Bucks County residents look forward to celebrating the season at a variety of exciting, holiday-themed, family-friendly attractions. The festivities kick off in November and continue through the New Year — offering plenty of time to enjoy twinkling lights, fun characters, cozy getaways and much more. Many of these regional destinations are near neighborhoods being built by Hallmark Homes Group, making these holiday wonders just a short drive away.

Get into Character

Everyone’s favorite characters at Sesame Place are hosting A Very Furry Christmas on select dates from November 21st through January 3rd. During this time, the entire park will be decorated with thousands of colorful lights and festive ornaments. Visitors are invited to participate in the sights and sounds of the 1-2-3 Christmas Tree Show featuring an illuminated, pixel-based 30-foot tree. Train rides on the Sesame Place Furry Express are also available to take youngsters through the Twiddlebugs’ Gingerbread Cookie Factory. Plus, guests who prefer to experience the spectacle from the comfort of their own vehicles can opt for the Furry and Bright Christmas Drive-Thru featuring a trip along Candy Cane Lane, Snowflake Way and alongside the Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade.

Go North for the Winter

The region’s best seasonal railway adventure is held aboard the North Pole Express Train — taking guests on a holiday journey through the past in restored passenger cars from the early 20th Century. The experience is designed for modern-day coziness, as the refurbished passenger cars now feature the luxury of built-in heating. Passengers are served hot chocolate and fresh cookies — all enjoyed to the sounds of holiday songs. The journey takes guests to Santa’s workshop, where children can hand-deliver letters to St. Nick detailing their Christmas wishes while touring his toy-making factory.

Light Up the Night

Every year, Shady Brook Farm invites residents of new homes in Bucks County to their breathtaking Holiday Light Show. The production features over three million bulbs strung up into creative displays across several acres of farmland. On clear nights, visitors can experience the wonder from an open-air, tractor-drawn wagon ride. Or they can tour the grounds from the comfort of their own vehicles. The adventure features a visit with Santa, a trip down Candy Cane Lane and a chance to snuggle up and toast s’mores over a roaring campfire.

Have a Historic Celebration

Bucks County loves to celebrate famous writers with ties to the area. Every year, artists, decorators and community groups team up to create the Annual Holiday Festival of the Trees at the Pearl S. Buck House in Perkasie — a National Historic Landmark. Visitors can enjoy light displays of spectacular design and decor within the rooms of the house and throughout the property grounds.

Meanwhile, the folks at The Christmas Museum at Byers’ Choice in Chalfont have something special in store for fans of A Christmas Carol, the legendary story by Charles Dickens. They will be broadcasting — via their Vimeo channel — a performance of the work by the author’s great, great grandson, Gerald Dickens. Folks who love this timeless tale can also experience its magic through the legendary Broadway director Michael Arden via streaming video at the Bucks County Playhouse. Broadcasts feature the talents of Tony-winning virtuoso Jefferson Mays and will take place daily from November 28th through January 3rd. Proceeds will benefit the regional theatre community.

Enjoy a Cozy Stay

Bucks County offers the old-world yuletide charm of historic hotels — each with a host of unique features and delights.

  • The rustic charms of the Golden Plough Inn are perfect for a wintertime getaway for the whole family. The hotel features 67 rooms and suites imbued with colonial-era ambiance. Perched in the heart of Peddler’s Village, this location gives visitors immediate access to some of the finest seasonal treats, holiday decorations and shopping experiences in the region — including the Peddler’s Village Grand Illumination (late November through early January).
  • The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm invites couples to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a secluded, romantic setting. This bed and breakfast in New Hope features 16 unique suites situated within the manor house and in the adjacent buildings situated in a 100-acre estate. Visitors can enjoy world-class elegance located near a variety of vineyards, markets and dining destinations.
  • Also located in New Hope, the Logan Inn is one of the oldest continually-operating hotels in the United States. This historic treasure offers an authentic, charming experience amid a property that takes visitors back to a simpler time. Indoor and outdoor dining is available on-site, and the location allows quick access to an array of fine shops, restaurants and breweries.

Wander through Wonderland

Feeney’s Garden Center and Nursery is one of the best resources in Bucks County for decorating a new home for the holidays. The center features 20,000 square feet of retail space that engulfs shoppers in decorative options of every sort, seasonal sparkle and Christmas lore. Holiday adventure-seekers can look forward to touring an array of themed sections, marveling at the model train display and visiting Santa among his crop of Christmas trees in the on-site greenhouse.

Stroll through the Past

Taking a seasonal jaunt through lavishly decorated estates is a great way to celebrate the wintertime holidays. Presented by the Heritage Conservancy, the Aldie Mansion in Doylestown offers tours of the historic English-style country manor. Similarly, the Bolton Mansion in Levittown (built in 1687) hosts the Holiday House — a tour featuring a towering Christmas tree, baked goodies, seasonal music, hot cider, a chance to chat with Santa and more. Meanwhile, Historic Fallingston — aka “the town that time forgot” — offers holiday-themed tours of the grounds located along the Delaware River. Visitors can stroll among the buildings of 18th Century architecture adorned in seasonal decor.

The holiday season in Bucks County is a special time for wholesome family fun. Contact us to learn more about Hallmark Homes Group — the company building the finest homes across the region.

What to Look for When Shopping for New Homes in Bucks County

Categories: Bucks County, New Home, New Homes, New Homes in Bucks County | Posted: December 28, 2020

If you’re looking to buy a new home, the best way to find the right builder is to tour their model homes. This approach allows you to experience the company’s professional craftsmanship firsthand, speak to a company representative and get an idea of how your needs can be met and applied to the design of the new home. 

First, you’ll want to know about the builder’s capabilities and how they can be applied to your situation. Next, you will want to have a few questions prepared about how the company can meet your personal preferences while fulfilling your sense of taste and style.   

Ask About Options

Some builders have a “what you see is what you get” policy — meaning they do not accommodate requests to alter a floor plan. Other companies in Bucks County, however, build new homes based on a layout that best suits the buyer. When touring model homes, it is important to find out if the company is willing to suit your family’s daily routines. Ask the sales representative if the builder will move walls where necessary and customize certain areas for special use. Also, ask to see all current floor plans so that you can explore every available option. 

Make It Yours

One of the biggest advantages to working with Hallmark is that, as a new home buyer, you are encouraged to customize to suit your living needs. This includes much more than requesting a certain color of paint for the kitchen or a specific type of wood for the floors. This company’s unique capability allows you the freedom to imagine just about any configuration of interior space you could possibly need, and lets you turn it into a reality.

Accommodate Your Family

One of the most popular customizations in a Hallmark residence is a welcoming place that your in-laws and other extended family members can call home. You can design the perfect section of the house that allows for daily interaction and personal privacy. The Mill Ridge selection of floor plans and possible options can include a private entrance, connecting interior doorways, separate kitchens and more. 

Build a Custom Home Office

For many professionals, working from home is becoming a necessity. To embrace this trend and excel at your career you can design a fully inclusive professional work suite, complete with a board room, private office, restroom, break room and separate entrance. This way, you can be completely immersed in the elements of your job minus the distractions of home and without the commute. 

Have Some Fun

Another benefit of customization is having the ability to create the ultimate space for entertaining and home recreation. Hallmark’s selection of floor plans includes spaces such as optional bedrooms, basement areas and upstairs lofts that can be pre-wired for surround-sound speakers and extra electrical circuitry to power stereos, computers, monitors, video game consoles and home theater equipment.       

Clarify Standard Features Vs. Upgrades   

A model home may be adorned from floor to ceiling with the finest wall switches, light fixtures, crown molding, surface finishes and appliances. Many times, this is a “staged” setting of custom features which may not be included in the listing price. As you tour the property, be sure to ask the company representative to specify exactly which features are standard and which are upgrades. As you inspect, remember to look closely at the craftsmanship of the countertops, cabinets, hand railings and window ledges. Chances are that your finished home from this builder will look quite similar to what you see in the model. 

Find Out What’s Included

A property that is part of a new neighborhood may come with some incredible amenities such as swimming pool access, health spa, a community gym, tennis courts, walking trails, etc. Be sure to ask what the long-term plans for the neighborhood are and what recreational features are nearby. Also, ask about what the area has to offer that suits your family’s routine demands and long-term needs such as shopping, entertainment and education.  

Have a Close Look at Quality 

When you set out to explore Bucks County, consider having a look at the new homes being built by Hallmark Homes Group. Currently, the Mill Ridge neighborhood in Chalfont is showcasing a variety of gorgeous homes with floor plans designed for growing, busy, dynamic households. Once you make an appointment to tour a model home, you will be able to see and feel the quality and workmanship that is built into the cost of a finished home. 

Take it All In

The fine details in a Hallmark finished home include the highest quality countertops, cabinets, floors, windows, doors, fixtures and much more. You will begin your tour by pulling up to a gorgeous home on an expansive plot within a private cul-de-sac. All around are rolling fields, wooded hillsides and wide stretches of manicured grass. Be sure to take note of the top-rated Energy Star siding across the entire exterior, which is adorned with a dramatic entryway, wood-trimmed eaves and large, first story floor-to-ceiling windows. Next, you will experience the look and feel of a culinary dream kitchen featuring Caesarstone countertops, state-of-the-art appliances, a spacious pantry and elegant wood flooring. Then, you’ll take a stroll through multiple floors of continuous luxury starting in a gigantic family room that leads to spacious bedrooms as well as a huge owner’s suite with an opulent master bath. 

Additionally, it is helpful to note that this community is located within the award-winning Central Bucks School District. Also, quick travel to the important regional hubs of Montgomeryville, Ft. Washington and Doylestown is easily accessed via Routes 611, 309 and 202 — all just minutes away.  

As a future homeowner, understanding what is included in the price of a house and being able to customize are important parts of the buying process. Contact us to schedule a model home tour and learn more about how customization can help you build the home of your dreams.

Why New Homes in Bucks County are Perfect for Families Planning to Move

Categories: Bucks County, Bucks County Homes, New Homes, New Homes in Bucks County | Posted: November 25, 2020

If you are interested in relocating to suburban Pennsylvania, consider a region that is well known for its’ picturesque countryside, family-friendly recreation and quality neighborhoods built by Hallmark Homes Group.

Rich in history, beauty and tradition — this area is ideal for those who value education, culture and community. Recently-built residential properties offer the latest in luxury and style while being conveniently located near travel routes, schools, shopping destinations and major business hubs.

Take it All In

When you arrive in Bucks County, you will be met by stunning landscapes of rolling hills, thick groves of trees, majestic rivers, sweeping farmlands, lush gardens and ripening vineyards. Your new home in the scenic countryside offers a refreshing alternative to the bustle of big cities. Outdoor enthusiasts will be delighted that there are lakes, ponds, streams, hillsides, national parks, campgrounds, barnyards and fields waiting to be explored. Nockamixon State Park is one such place, offering hiking trails, bike paths and fishing spots as well as picnic areas, swimming and ice skating. Outdoor recreation happens all year, and the diverse seasons offer conditions from warm and sunny to cool and breezy, as well as crisp and snowy.

Fun for Kids

Bucks County is a great place to grow up, with something for every child of any age. Castles, characters and educational activities await the younger children at Sesame Place while carousels, arcades and obstacle courses entice explorers at Giggleberry Fair. If climbing up staircases, exploring mazes and sliding through chutes sounds fun, Kids Castle in Doylestown offers great wood-built adventure. Young history buffs can dip into the region’s past at the Mercer Museum and the Michener Art Museum. Meanwhile, artists at Moravian Pottery & Tile Works teach arts and crafts skills to the creatively inclined.

Experience the Finest

Hallmark is renowned for building exceptional, luxury houses within gorgeous, well-maintained communities. Over generations, the company has cultivated a reputation for quality and integrity among long-term buyers and newcomers alike. Their well-planned and spacious layouts are designed to offer residents the tranquility of majestic architecture and expansive lawns. The neighborhoods feature simple, quiet low-traffic loops and cul-de-sacs rather than busy thoroughfares. New homes are built in a variety of styles, allowing newcomers to Buck County to find the property that perfectly fits their tastes and needs with the option to customize.

Discover Regional Treasures

Those interested in history can learn all about George Washington’s role in the Civil War at Washington Crossing Park, and then explore the breaks and banks of the Delaware River in a boat or on foot. Meanwhile, Ringing Rock Park welcomes those who love natural wonders with a rolling field of boulders where visitors can hammer out a wide variety of mysterious sounds. The Silverlake and Churchville nature centers offer hands-on exploration of a variety of habitats through guided tours and equipment rentals for exploring waterways, riverbanks and wooded areas.

Adventures for Adults

Folks can look forward to weekend tours of hotels, restaurants, microbreweries and one-of-a-kind main street boutiques across a network of historic townships. Places like the Washington House Hotel and Restaurant in Sellersville, the Continental Tavern in Yardley and The Landing in New Hope offer quaint dining experiences and world-class cuisine. You can book a night or two at the Hargrave House Bed & Breakfast in Doylestown or the King George II Inn in Bristol and enjoy the offerings of Proper Brewing Company in Quakertown and satisfy your sweet tooth at the Zebra-Striped Whale in Newtown. These vibrant hubs let visitors experience a glimpse of old-time Pennsylvania with a modern, bustling twist. Golfers will relish the fact that Bucks County is home to hundreds of acres of world-class golfing terrain including the renowned Heritage Creek and Fox Hollow clubs.

Learn with the Best

The importance of learning is represented across the region, with a wide variety of learning facilities for people of every age. According to publicschoolreview.com, Bucks County has “one of the highest concentrations of top ranked schools in Pennsylvania.” 14 school districts feature facilities for elementary, middle school and high school education. For college-bound kids, some of the top ten schools in the county are right here — including Quakertown Community High School, Palisades High School and New Hope-Solebury High School. There are also dozens of colleges and universities in the region for anyone seeking continuing education, trade proficiency and four-year degrees.

Get There Fast

Commuting to important centers of business, commerce, entertainment and recreation is convenient and easy for new homeowners in Bucks County. Hallmark neighborhoods are within a few minutes of travel routes to major urban destinations.

New York City – One hour and 30 minutes

Downtown Philadelphia – 45 minutes

Harrisburg – Two hours

Princeton – 30 minutes

Atlantic City – Two hours

Poconos – One hour and 30 minutes

Plus, I-295 cuts diagonally across the southeastern part of the county, offering direct access to Philly via I-95. Meanwhile, route 611 runs north and south through the county with lateral connections to communities across the region. The southwest area of the county provides plenty of access to I-276 heading east and west, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike provides four entry points into the county at Bristol, Feasterville/Trevose, New Hope/Doylestown and Sellersville/Quakertown.

Trek Across Treasured Bridges

One of the most endearing features of this area of Pennsylvania is the network of covered bridges that dot the landscape — hearkening back to the time of horse and buggy travel and the advent of the automobile. These well-preserved structures were built by settlers to get goods and people across waterways. The load-bearing wooden beams were protected from decay by being built with picturesque, barn-like coverings. These bridges make the perfect backdrop for an afternoon picnic or a seasonal family photo.

If you are planning to move into a new home, consider settling in suburban Pennsylvania. Contact us to learn more about luxury living in a quality, family-friendly community.

 

Fall Maintenance Checklist for New Homes

Categories: New Home Tips | Posted: November 10, 2020

With the changing leaves and crisp air comes the beginning of fall. The adjustment from summer to fall can be exciting and grueling all at the same time. As a new homeowner, you may be faced with the challenge of trying to navigate your way through all of the necessary seasonal maintenance that is required to prepare for the winter months. To make the transition easier, we’ve rounded up the ultimate checklist to help you prepare.

Indoor Maintenance

  • Deep clean each room in your house: Give each room in your house a thorough cleaning and make sure that everything is working properly. A few key things to remember to do is to change any burnt-out bulbs in the light fixtures, wash the walls and baseboards, empty out the garbage cans, and dust each room.
  • Give the kitchen some extra attention: The kitchen is usually the most used room in the house. Take some extra time to give it a deep clean including wiping out the inside of the oven and microwave, vacuum the refrigerator coils, and degrease the range hood.
  • Schedule a furnace inspection: Before you turn on the heat for the first time this fall, take the proper precautions to make sure your furnace is safe to use. Schedule an appointment to have a professional make sure your furnace is working properly.
  • Clean out the dryer vent: This is commonly missed in new homes, however, it’s essential for your family’s safety. Lint buildup happens fast and will cause your dryer to work less efficiently. It can also cause a fire if it isn’t checked regularly. It’s fairly easy to clean out the vent yourself with a vacuum. If you’d prefer, you can do a quick online search and hire a Bucks County duct cleaning specialist to do it for you. Either way, this item shouldn’t be missed.
  • Test safety detectors: While you’re completing your fall maintenance checklist, it’s the perfect time to make sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Stock up on batteries while you’re at it so you can easily replace them when needed.
  • Remove A/C units: If you have any window A/C units, remove them or cover the exterior of the unit with insulated wrap.

 Exterior & Outdoor Maintenance

  • Organize the garage: Before you pack away and store all of your summer furniture, tools and supplies, make sure your garage is cleaned out. Sweep and clean all the dirt, mothballs, and dust away. Add a few shelves to your new home so you’ll be able to easily locate all your spring and summer items when you need them.
  • Cover the patio furniture: While you’re cleaning out your garage, make room to store your outdoor furniture set so it’s protected from the elements. If you’d prefer to keep it outdoors, get a protective covering or tarp to avoid any damage. Also, make sure to remove any cushions or pillows and keep in a warm, dry place until you’re ready to pull them out again next spring.
  • Water and fertilize the lawn: Although your grass doesn’t grow as quickly in the fall, your lawn will still need to be watered. This is the perfect time to fertilize as well since it needs water to help soak into the ground. Taking the time to tend to your lawn will help protect it for a beautiful result in the warmer months. Be sure to shut off the water outside and drain your hoses so they do not freeze/get damaged.
  • Tend to your plants, shrubs and trees: Give all of your plants a good trim before winter arrives. This will prevent them from getting damaged from heavy snowfall and avoid any harm to your new home. Clean out your flower beds, remove dead annuals, and mulch your perennials so they’re able to grow back well in the spring.

Pre-Winter Preparation Checklist 

As you check items off your fall maintenance prep list, keep in mind that winter is right around the corner. To make sure your new home is ready for the first snowfall, there are a few additional items that you’ll need to complete so you’re prepared ahead of time.

  • Take inventory of your snow removal supplies: Make sure that your snow shovel, blower and ice scrapers are all working properly before the first snowfall so that you will have time to make any required repairs or purchase new equipment if needed.
  • Have rock salt on hand: The last thing you want to do during a snowstorm is venture outside. If you absolutely need to, have a couple of bags of rock salt on hand to avoid any accidents on slippery surfaces.
  • Stock up on firewood: If you have a fireplace, make sure that you have plenty of firewood to get you through the cold months. You’ll be thankful that you prepared ahead of time, especially on those chilly nights in Bucks County.
  • Consider winter safety: Make sure that your outdoor walkways and stairs are clear of any debris or damage that may be considered hazardous when covered with snow. Also, make sure that your railings are properly secured so they’re easy to hold onto when going up and down the stairs in severe weather conditions.

The changing of the seasons is a perfect time to start anew. If you’ve been on the search for a fresh start, look no further. Hallmark Homes Group builds innovatively designed, Energy Star certified homes and goes the extra mile to take care of clients to make sure they find a place to call home that they can cherish forever. Our Hallmark team is eager to expand your vision and make your dreams a reality.

Eight Tips on Getting a Mortgage for Your New Home

Categories: Bucks County, Bucks County Homes, New Homes, New Homes in Bucks County | Posted: October 28, 2020

If you are shopping for new homes in Bucks County, consider working with professionals who understand every step of the buying process. Hallmark Homes Group is one such company– offering helpful guidance for buyers who are interested in purchasing a new residential property.

Embarking on ownership is an exciting time for a homebuyer, and knowing how mortgages work can help you progress with a clear picture of the steps required, the financial factors involved and exactly where to begin. Securing a home loan in a step-by-step manner is a great way to experience a process that requires preparation, planning and a bit of negotiation.

Know What ‘Mortgage’ Means

Mortgages are loans used to buy real estate. The terms of these loans typically state that the physical property (the house and the land it is built on) will function as collateral. In other words, a financial institution loans out money for buying a home, under the condition that they (the bank) may assume ownership of the house if the borrower defaults on the loan. The bank’s reason for lending (incentive) is to earn money (interest) as the borrower pays back the loan over an extended period of time.

Start Early

Create a schedule based on when you want to buy and when you will be prepared to move into a house. The ideal span of time to begin the mortgage process is two or three months. The timeline may fluctuate depending on your mortgage company, so be sure to check with your builder, real estate professional or mortgage company.

This is the planning stage where important details will need to be addressed such as evaluating your finances, finding the right lender, securing a mortgage and locating the right property. The details may take you time to gather and your mortgage company to process, so ample time is key to ensuring your mortgage is ready for settlement on your new home.

Tighten up your Credit

A good credit score is essential to qualifying for a loan. The higher your credit score, the larger the loan a lender is likely to grant you and the better the rates. A smart approach to home buying is to check your credit report for any errors and make sure it is as clean as possible before you apply for a mortgage. Aiming for a credit score of 760 or greater is ideal, with the highest possible being 850.

Prequalify Before Your Shop

It is important to know how much a lending company will be willing to give you before you search for a home and especially before your sign an agreement to build your home. You have the option to get prequalified by your lender. This is an assessment based on more basic information than the mortgage approval. Although not guaranteed, it can give you a guideline for the amount you can qualify for. Once you know have an idea of the amount, you can then shop for a new home in Bucks County that matches your budget.

Work with A Reputable Lender

Mortgage companies and banks are two types of lending companies that you may be familiar with. Talking to a few institutions can give you a sense of the right fit for your specific situation. Another resource may be your builder who can refer you to a financial institution with a good reputation.

Understand Interest Rates

As a borrower, your mortgage payments will be affected by the interest rate you are able to “lock in.” This rate is set by economic trends and can vary from one year to the next. The interest rate affixed to your mortgage is determined, in part, by your credit score — lower interest rates are awarded to those with higher credit ratings.

Also, the size of the down payment you are able to make affects your interest rate. For example, a down payment of 20% or more can typically make you exempt from having to pay private mortgage insurance while giving you access to the lower current interest rates.

Choose Your Mortgage Type

There are two major types of conventional mortgages. A fixed rate mortgage (FRM) has an interest rate that stays the same throughout the duration of the loan. While this offers stability in the form of payments that are always predictable, it also means you would have to refinance your mortgage in order to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Meanwhile, an adjusted rate mortgage (ARM) begins with lower interest rates over the first few years, which can then increase or decrease depending on real estate trends. This type of mortgage can work to your benefit — as you can take advantage of lower interest rates without having to refinance your mortgage. Yet, your loan payment can also be affected in the opposite way by rising interest rates.

Your mortgage type can also be based on the dollar amount of the loan. Large loans are typically arranged in 30-year loan agreements, while smaller amounts can be arranged over 15-year terms. Either way, the shorter the duration of the loan, the larger your monthly payments are and vice versa.

Prepare for Other Costs

The mortgage process involves charges known as closing costs. These should be planned for along with other important factors such as property taxes, homeowner insurance, utilities (electricity, gas, water, cable, internet, etc.) and homeowner’s association dues (depending on your neighborhood). Accounting for the comprehensive array of expenditures can help you close on the property smoothly and start enjoying your new home. Mortgage professionals provide a valuable service which includes financial, legal and clerical expertise to help you keep track while you navigate the process.

Consider Going with Escrow

Your lender may offer the option to open an escrow account, which manages the recurring costs of homeowner’s insurance and property taxes. These expenses are added to your monthly mortgage payment and the funds are held interest free. This measure assures the lender that the comprehensive expenses associated with your mortgage payments are made regularly, while saving you the extra step of making the payments yourself.

Once you understand the basics of mortgages and interest rates, you can look forward to moving into the house of your dreams. Contact us to learn more about how we will work with you every step of the way.

 

Fall Activities Surround Hallmark’s New Homes in Bucks County

Categories: Things to do in Bucks County | Posted: October 19, 2020

Residents who are moving into a new construction community have so much to do, from exploring every detail of their new home to heading out and getting to know the surroundings area.

There are few things in life more satisfying than experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of autumn as you step out of your new Hallmark Homes Group residence in Bucks County. The weather is cool, leaves are falling, and there are a wealth fun-filled activities in the area for residents to enjoy over the next few weeks.

From family-friendly Halloween events at a local historic farm to taking a driving tour of various haunted houses around the area, there’s something to do for kids and adults of all ages. Below are six favorite fall time activities in Bucks County that will provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment for the entire family.

1. FallFest at Shadybrook Farm

FallFest is a family-friendly event celebrating all things fall and featuring a plethora of fun things to do, such as a 5-acre corn maze, pumpkin picking, and wagon rides. After you and the little ones have worked up an appetite, you can indulge your sweet tooth with spooky snacks such as kettle corn, funnel cake, and many other holiday-themed treats.

For older kids, the Alien Encounter and Barn of Horror offer up ample spooky scenes with ghoulish props (but no worries–no live actors!). There’s also live music on the weekends and bonfire pits where you can roast up some tasty s’mores.

In between the autumn excitement, take time to check out the Farm Market with sumptuous treats that are sure to add an old-fashioned flair to your festive fall season. Homemade nut butters, fresh baked pies, craft made cheeses and fresh milk in glass bottles are just a small part of a long list of local favorites.

2. Haunted Bucks County Driving Tour

Many ghostly tales, myths, and legends have cropped up since Bucks County was established in the year 1682. The Haunted Bucks County Driving Tour is a unique way to learn more about the history of the area and to experience local haunted places first-hand.

This self-driving tour features 20 different haunted locations scattered throughout the county. From Civil War soldiers said to haunt the local inn to tales of green orbs that float across the road at night, there’s no shortage of spooky places and locations that will put a chill down your spine.

The full tour takes around three hours, but you can pick and choose which of the 20 locations you’d like to stop and explore. The best part about this fall fun adventure is that you’ll get a chance be up close while learning about the rich history of Bucks County – of course, with a haunted twist.

3. Scarecrows in the Village

Every fall the popular Bucks County destination, Peddler’s Village, is bustling with a number of autumn-centric activities, one of which stands out for area residents as well as tourists around the world.

The ‘Scarecrows in the Village’ festival celebrates its 41st anniversary this year. Organizations, artists and residents around the Philadelphia area compete in hopes of winning one of many honors in a variety of categories. These creative, crafty scarecrows appear in an array of multi-themed costumes and are positioned throughout the village to thrill, scare and delight visitors at every turn.

Take a break from the fun-filled activities to enjoy local shops and apple-themed food and drinks at all of the Village restaurants along with live entertainment on the weekends.

If time permits, visitors can add a ghostly twist to their visit and join the haunted walking tour to help solve a murder mystery at the ghoulish Homicide and Hauntings event each weekend.

4. Trick or Treat Train

All aboard the Trick or Treat Train at the New Hope Railroad! This 45-minute family-friendly train ride is a blast for kids and adults of all ages. You can choose from first-class or coach seating while your kids will enjoy participating in a live reading of Spookley the Square Pumpkin. They’ll also get the chance to sing along seasonal songs performed by the railroad musicians.

As your children board the train in their costumes, they’ll be given an official railroad trick or treat bag, various holiday-themed trinkets, and candy before you take your seat. This one-of-a-kind event is an excellent way for the entire family to celebrate Halloween while taking a ride on an authentic train!

5. Fall Festival 2020 at Froehlich’s Farm

A massive pick-your-own pumpkin patch and a cow train are just two of the many fun things to do at the Fall Festival 2020 at Froehlich’s Farm. Once you arrive, you’ll find live music, bonfires, and a five-acre corn maze that will amaze and delight. The old-fashioned wagon ride will take you on a tour of the historic 107-acre farm as you take in the sights and smells of fall.

There’s also a local brewery for adults and more fun activities for kids of all ages worth checking out. Kids can discover excitement in every direction from creating their very own scarecrow and pony rides to exploring the hay maze and trying out their climbing skills at the hay pyramid climb. Plus, what better way to capture the thrills of the day with a fall family photo opportunity.

If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate the fall season on a Saturday or Sunday, Fall Festival 2020 should be at the top of your list.

6. Sesame Place Halloween Spooktacular

Friday through Sunday throughout October, join Big Bird, Grover, Cookie Monster, and the Count as they celebrate All Hallows Eve at the Sesame Place Halloween Spooktacular. Geared primarily towards children, this Halloween-themed event runs from September 26 through November 1. The entire park will be transformed into a spooky (but not scary) family-friendly destination.

Kids can enjoy trick-or-treating around the entire park as their favorite Sesame Street characters pass out individually-wrapped treats. There are also several Halloween-themed shows, rides, and many fun activities such as pumpkin decorating, photo opportunities, and even a float parade!

Fall Fun in Bucks County

No matter what the season, there’s no shortage of fun things to do, which is just one of many reasons why so many people choose to live at Hallmark Homes Group’s well-located communities in Bucks County. Contact us today or stop by our offices to learn more.

In-Law Suites – The Most Popular New Home Customization Trend for 2020

Categories: Bucks County Homes, Home Design Trends | Posted: October 5, 2020

Hallmark Homes Group differs from many builders because we work with each buyer individually to customize their new home to fit their exact lifestyle. Our goal is to not only meet but exceed the expectations of our clients. This is why buyers can create the perfect home that will last for generations to come.

The most popular customization that Hallmark buyers have wanted in 2020 is adding or turning extra space into an in-law suite. Also known as multi-generational homes, they provide a wide range of benefits for all family members living under the same roof. Read on to learn more about in-law suites and how to determine if they’re right for you.

What is an In-Law Suite?

An in-law suite is an apartment-like living space that offers both guests and aging family members the ability to live independently under the same roof as the rest of the family. They’re often located on the first floor and have easy access for individuals with mobility issues.

Some new home buyers take the concept one step further and add a dedicated bathroom, mini-kitchen, and living area. Others are even adding a private entrance that turns it into a fully functional apartment that will allow family members to have a completely independent lifestyle.

Benefits of an In-Law Suite

There are many benefits of adding an in-law suite to your new house in Bucks County. Some people do it for the cost-savings aspect, while others see the immense value of having grandparents living under the same roof. Here are a few benefits that you can expect:

Cost Savings

While the upfront cost of adding an in-law suite may be higher initially, it will actually help save money in the long run. Retirement homes and assisted care living centers in the greater Philadelphia area can cost upwards of $50k per year for a single individual.

Many retirement homes may not meet the personal standards of both the elderly parents and their children. The rooms can be cramped and have a clinical feel to them which can have a negative mental and emotional effect on the residents.

Holiday Celebrations

Getting the entire family together for the holidays can be a logistical challenge, especially if they live out-of-town. An in-law suite allows your extended family members to stay with you right under your roof for the entire duration of their stay—versus having to pick them up and drop them off at a hotel room or the airport.

Guest Space

Many new home buyers who are planning for the future are opting to add in-law suites despite their elderly family members not requiring it just yet. Instead, they’re using them as fully functional guest suites that provide a much higher quality of life than a hotel room.

With the rising costs of tuition and on-campus apartments, many college students are choosing to live at home with mom and dad. An in-law suite offers them a level of comfort and privacy without the added costs and hassles of living in a dormitory.

Comfort

There’s a considerable comfort element for those who live in in-law suites versus the hospital-esque atmosphere of a retirement community. Your aging relatives will be much happier being around their beloved family members versus other older adults whom they barely know.

Elderly relatives will also have quick and easy access to all of the creature comforts that they need to maintain a high quality of life. A big part of that comfort is ease of access, so be sure to keep that in mind when designing the space.

Child-Raising Support

It takes a village to raise a child, and there’s sometimes no better people to help out than grandparents. They can give emotional support and advice while positively influencing the growth and development of your children.

If you and your significant other would like to head out for a night on the town or take a vacation, your elderly relatives are a trustworthy option for service. When the kids get sick, grandparents can offer assistance to nurse them back to health, helping you avoid lost days at work.

Independent Lifestyle

Retirement homes don’t provide as much independence as living at home would, which can impact your loved ones’ quality of life. An in-law suite gives your aging relatives the opportunity to live a completely independent lifestyle

Many new home buyers are opting to create a self-sufficient in-law suite that comes complete with mini-kitchen, bathroom, and living room. A private entryway will help ensure that they can come and go as they please without disturbing the rest of the family.

Having loved ones close-by as they age and eventually may need more care, an in-law suite attached to your home provides you with an easier environment for you when it comes time for their extra care. Planning ahead for this stage in their lives while building your new house can save the hassle of construction down the road.

Is an In-Law Suite Right for You?

Consider the current and future needs of all older adults within your family. Will everyone coexist peacefully? If your elderly relatives aren’t quite ready for it, can you use it for other reasons such as housing for your college-aged kids?

Many people who add in-law suites won’t need them for several years and instead use them as a spare bedroom, music room, or even a home office. There are plenty of benefits of adding a dedicated space that will allow your family members to quickly adapt to any future changes in your lifestyle.

Learn More About In-Law Suites

At Hallmark, we’ve helped countless buyers customize the perfect home that fits their lifestyle. We look forward to answering any questions that you might have and working closely with you to build the home of your dreams. If you have any questions about in-law suites or other potential customization ideas, contact us today or stop by our offices to learn more about the advantages of Hallmark.

Tips for Buying a New Construction Home

Categories: Bucks County Homes, Home Buying Tips, New Homes in Bucks County | Posted: September 16, 2020

To many buyers looking for a home in Bucks County, new construction offers several distinct advantages, such as energy efficiency, ample customization options, and peace of mind that you won’t run into unexpected and expensive repairs. However, there are a few things that you’ll need to take into consideration when it comes to new construction.

Timing, budget, and levels of customization can all play a role in the building of your new home. For many people, it’s an enjoyable, fun-filled experience that gives them complete and total control over where they live. A brand-new home in a brand-new community with endless possibilities makes it all worthwhile.

Read on to learn more about what you should take into consideration when purchasing a new home.

Determine if New Construction is Right for You

A new construction home is simply one that has not been built yet. You’re given the unique opportunity to design and customize it to suit both your tastes and lifestyle.

However, there are some instances where a builder will sell a brand-new construction home that’s already been built—with a main difference being that you can’t customize it as much.

When it comes to determining if new construction is right for you, take a look at your current lifestyle. For example, perhaps you’ll eventually want your elderly parents to come live with you. Building their bedroom on the ground floor will give them easy access and prevent them from having to walk up a flight of stairs.

Maybe you’re planning on having another child in a few years. Adding an additional bedroom will allow your family to grow into the house and prevent crowding issues.

Also, some new construction neighborhoods have community amenities such walking trails, playgrounds or even pools or a clubhouse. These amenities may or may not appeal to you or your anticipated lifestyle.

Research the Builder and the Community

Many new home builders, such as Hallmark Homes Group, have decades of experience and a proven track record of building high-quality homes in highly desirable communities.

To learn more about the builder, houses, and community, consider visiting and speaking to homeowners in the area. They can give you an idea of what the new house and neighborhood will be like once you move. You might even pick up a few customization ideas along the way.

The community that surrounds your new home is also very important. How close are the schools, grocery stores, shopping amenities, and anything else that allows you to live your lifestyle? You can find many online resources that will provide you with detailed information so that you can make an informed decision.

Model Homes 

When you visit the new community, take a tour of the model home keeping in mind that it’s typically not standard. Beyond what comes included in every home, it usually has extra features designed to show the home’s full potential along with many of the customization options available to you.

As you’re touring it, feel free to ask the agent as many questions as you can think of such as the cost of upgrades that appeal to you or customization options such as moving the master bedroom downstairs or adding additional office space.

Customization

Customization is the most important reason to buy a new construction home. At Hallmark, the possibilities are endless. We work individually with each buyer to create a dream home that you’ll love. For example, you can add or remove walls, expand room sizes, build in custom niche areas, add extra electrical outlets and even change the entire floor plan to suit your individual lifestyle.

You can also take the customization options a step further by adding such accouterments as a custom mantle, wall scones, extra wide trim or wainscoting and even a motorized lift for the hall chandelier. Customize your bathroom with high-end tiles, frameless showers or revise the entire layout as you see fit.

Find a Good Lender

Take some time to find a good lender who’s willing to work with you and give you the best rates. By shopping around, you’ll have a better chance of finding a loan that fits your financial situation.

A great way to make sure that you’re getting the best deal possible is to ask your home builder to provide a few referrals to lenders that they work closely with. This might get you more competitive rates and fees.

Budget for Extra Time

There are a few things that can impact how quickly your new house is built. For example, many homebuyers will opt to have construction start in the fall or wintertime. This timeline allows them to move into their home by the summer.

However, sometimes winter storms or major weather events can cause unforeseen delays in materials getting to the job site. If you absolutely need to move into your new home by a specific date, be sure to let your builder know. They can provide you with an approximate completion date that will allow you to make a more informed decision.

Communicate with Your Builder

You can more accurately set your expectations by communicating regularly with your builder. This will help keep the process transparent and the lines of communication open. Ask your builder how often they will give you updates and to whom you should address any questions or concerns.

At Hallmark, our proven process has been honed over decades of building highly customized homes for our clients. We’ll keep you informed of the progress at every step of the way. We take great pride in our work which is why we have multiple quality assurance/inspections to ensure the integrity of your new home.

Find Your Dream Home Today!

Buying a new home that’s customized to perfectly fit your lifestyle should be an enjoyable process. At Hallmark Homes Group, we go the extra mile to take care of our clients and work hard to ensure that we deliver the custom home that you and your family will cherish forever. Contact us today or stop by our sales center to learn more.

Staging Your Home

Categories: Home Buying Tips, New Homes in Bucks County | Posted: August 26, 2020

Bucks County is a prime location to find your new home and start the next steps in your life. Before you progress along your homebuying journey, you may also be selling your current home.

Although the home selling process may seem daunting, it is important to properly stage it to attract buyers. Research studies indicate that staged homes sell for six to ten percent above asking price and 73 percent faster than non-staged homes. In order to increase your return on investment, you may consider beginning with the following interior and exterior recommendations.

Create Curb Appeal

Whether your home is in suburban Bucks County or the city, your curb appeal must be considered. Buyers want to see a household that has been cared for inside and out. Be sure to mow the lawn, plant flowers and seeds, brush up the paint, fix gutters, replace roofing tiles, and clean siding. Trim trees, shrubs, and grass. Pressure wash the exterior walls, driveway, stone, vinyl fences, decking, and concrete. Furnish the front porch and deck. If you have a backyard perfect for BBQs, keep the grill out to bring that thought to mind for the buyers.

If your outdoor space is perfect for kids, make sure to keep the slide and swing set out, but clean up any miscellaneous toys that might make the yard appear cluttered. Homebuyers frequently drive around and create first impressions based on the outside of the house before deciding whether they would like to tour the inside.

Prioritize Your Energy

Staging your home helps sell your home, but if you are short on time or energy, focus your resources on essential areas first. The master bedroom, bathrooms, living room, and kitchen tend to be the main living spaces buyers look at when house shopping.

Keep Your Home Neutral

When looking for your new home, you may have searched for a place that is homey and enabled you the freedom to express yourself. Your buyers will do the same as this is what transforms a house into a home. Create a blank canvas for your buyers by updating to more neutral paint color pallets that will let them see the potential to suit their unique style.

Use decorations that are neutral and promote a cozy feeling. Gender-neutral accents like landscape paintings and classic vases are also a great starting point for adding the right touches to the home.

Create a Sparkling Clean and Safe Environment

Clear out cluttered closets, basements, and spaces to emphasize every nook and cranny as buyers search for spacious and well-maintained areas. You should also eliminate any potential tripping hazards, such as loose rugs, unstable furniture, or unsecured wires and cords.

Consider hiring a professional cleaner to thoroughly disinfect your house. Begin by searching for an accredited cleaning company that has earned positive testimonials and a Better Business Bureau seal. Your cleaners should clean and disinfect all surfaces of the house to remove mold, fungi, bacteria, viruses, dust mites, and allergens. The cleaners may also take the time to deep clean any fixtures and appliances. Additionally, they may offer an option to purify the air to improve air quality.

Remove Odors

If you have pets or children, odors happen. Be sure and clean out the litter box before a showing and take care of any stains or scents in the house by removing their source – do not try to cover them up with perfume or candles and risk a terrible mix of smells for your potential buyers.

Invest in Updated Fixtures and Paint

If sink faucets or ceiling fans look worn, replace them. This may keep the home’s value up and the buyer’s list of “fix-its” down. If you cannot afford a full revamp of your fixtures, prioritize by updating the most visible fixtures and surfaces, like those in the kitchen and living room.

Define Every Room’s Purpose

Make sure every room has a clear purpose. A bedroom is where your buyer wants to relax, so remove office materials, exercise gear, or other materials that do not promote that feeling of restfulness. Identify a single use for each room and emphasize it with the décor and furnishing.

Although buyers may not use all of your bedrooms, workspaces, or entertainment areas the way that you do, they would like to consider the possibilities of the space. The homebuyers will explore how they can adapt the house to meet their lifestyle preferences and organize their belongings.

Utilize Lighting

A bright home is a welcoming home. Replace burned-out lightbulbs and open blinds to create a cheery well-lit space. Use lighting to evoke inviting feelings in individual rooms. For example, keep the light in the bedroom warm to promote a relaxing feel and the light in the kitchen whiter to mimic daylight. Let the light accentuate the room’s purpose.

Play to the Environment and Time of Day

If you are selling your home in the summer, keep the house fresh and airy. If the weather is becoming colder, turn on your fireplace to create a warm, homey vibe. For a morning showing, open the windows to let in the natural light. If buyers are seeing the house in the evening, highlight the lighting options, and create a calming atmosphere with lightly scented candles.

Choose the Right Finishing Touches

It is essential to add the right finishing touches to any home. Arrange fresh vases of flowers and houseplants to brighten dining rooms, entryways, and bedside tables. These flowers can be a neutral color or add a touch of color. By doing so, you will create a welcoming sensation to the room and show off how well the house is cared for.

As you start the next exciting chapter in your life as a homeowner, take the time to close the last chapter on a high note. By staging your old home well, you may be able to sell your home quickly and for the right price. Visit a Hallmark home near you for ideas as you progress along your homebuying journey.

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