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Blog Category - Bucks County Homes

Why Some of the Best New Homes in Bucks County, PA are at Mill Ridge

Categories: Bucks County, Bucks County Homes, Luxury homes, Mill Ridge, New Communities, New Home Community, New Homes in Bucks County | Posted: July 12, 2021

If you are shopping for homes in the semi-rural region north of Philadelphia, consider the many advantages of the Mill Ridge community. The neighborhood is being sustainably built by Hallmark Homes Group along a tree-lined street which ends in a quiet cul-de-sac. The large plots of land provide ample room for growing families, plenty of privacy as well as the enhanced safety of being located on a non-thoroughfare street. The large homesites are spread across 56 acres of hillsides and fields — presenting comfortable living in a relaxed setting. Residents benefit from living near restaurants, shopping centers, public transit stations and important business centers. 

The Location is Close to Everything

Bucks County is home to many attractions and amenities. Residents of Mill Ridge can gain quick access to all through a well-connected network of major travel routes. Downtown Philadelphia can be reached in a mere 45 minutes while New York City is just an hour and-a-half away. Meanwhile, important cities in the region such as Harrisburg, Trenton, Allentown and Atlantic City are all relatively close as well — within a couple of hours. The area is perfect for executives and business professionals who want to be near essential centers for business and commerce.  

You Won’t Have to go Far to Find Something to Do

Award-winning and world-renowned educational institutions are also abundant in this region. Young people and adults alike can benefit from a wide variety of schools designed for specific areas of learning. These include hundreds of private primary education facilities as well as dozens of universities including several branches of Penn State. 

The area is also abundant with art galleries and museums offering in-depth experiences of important cultural topics. These include the James A Michener Art Museum, The Bucks County Children’s Museum, the County Theater in Doylestown, the Davis Library of the American Revolution, Fonthill Castle and the Mercer Museum. Residents of Mill Ridge can quickly reach financial institutions, libraries and other centers of business in minutes. In addition, the area offers a variety of historic bed and breakfasts for quaint weekend getaways. 

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy numerous parks and wildlife preserves including the Peace Valley Nature Center for nature hikes and Nockamixon State Park for fishing, sightseeing and water sports. Meanwhile, camping adventures along the Delaware River and alpine sports during the winter months are just 90 minutes away at the Poconos.

You Will Find an Extraordinary Selection of Home Designs

Some of the most gorgeous new homes in Bucks County are being built at Mill Ridge. The neighborhood already boasts some of Hallmark’s finest building achievements including the Roosevelt and Jefferson models as well as the Greenbrier and Monroe. Buyers of the remaining available lots can choose from many of the company’s innovative designs including the previously mentioned two as well as the Harrison.

The Greenbrier

This design welcomes residents with a two-story foyer which leads to four bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms, a spacious living area and large chef-friendly kitchen. Amenities include luxury master’s suite, walk-in closets, private study, first floor laundry and much more. 

The Monroe

An achievement of elegant living, this design offers 3,742 square feet of family-friendly perfection including four bedrooms, a two-car garage and Jack-and-Jill bathrooms for children and guests. The two story family room with a dramatic “wall of windows” is perfect for entertaining with an adjacent guest suite as well as two separate staircases for directing household traffic.

The Harrison

This floor plan lays out 2,860 square feet of spacious living across two floors which includes a two-story foyer, a vaulted great room and private study. The design caters to owners who enjoy luxury, as the first floor master’s suite includes amenities such as soaking tub, double bowl sinks, separate shower, private commode and large walk-in closet.  

Rural living north of Philadelphia offers the best in luxury homes, modern amenities and family-friendly surroundings. Contact us to learn more about gorgeous homes built on breathtaking plots of land.  

Six Tips for Designing the Perfect Outdoor Living Space

Categories: Bucks County Homes, DIY Home Projects, New Home Tips, New Homes in Bucks County | Posted: May 26, 2021

As spring gives way to summer, you’re no doubt looking forward to spending plenty of time outside with your family — enjoying your lawn, yard and patio to the fullest from sunrise to sunset and beyond.

The warm months are the perfect time of year, especially in beautiful Bucks County, for enjoying your exterior property to the fullest. As the seasons change this year, consider creating a luxury outdoor retreat for you and your family to enjoy for years to come with a few innovative design ideas from Hallmark Homes Group.

Extend your Home

Creating a sense of cohesion between your indoor and outdoor areas is a great way to open the house up to the outdoors. You can do this by using area rugs, furniture color, style choices and exterior paint color schemes that reflect those of the space just inside the back doors. This can help to create a harmonious transition from one space to the next.

Harmonize the Hardscape

Ideally, the main exterior gathering area should be an even, flat surface for furniture. Popular choices are flagstones, paving stones, concrete, tile, artificial grass, bricks and wooden decks. Similar to furniture and color schemes, the texture and tones you choose can be an extension of the interior themes of your home.

Pick a Purpose

Establishing a primary use for the majority of the space can help guide your outside design. If you love to entertain guests, a dining set could be your central focus. If evening visits are popular, perhaps couches, chairs and low-top tables arranged in a forum-type formation is a winning strategy.

Set the Scene with Landscaping

Your landscape design is your outdoor retreat’s decor, so having a plan for grass, bushes and perennials is a good idea. If your outdoor living space is sparse, container gardening could be the best option for you. Container gardens are inexpensive and maintenance is easy.

Heat it Up

Summer afternoons are perfect for cooking outside, so a propane-powered BBQ grill is a great idea. Plus, when a sunset cookout turns to an evening of stargazing, consider keeping the cool nighttime air at bay by installing a fireplace or a fire pit. These features are perfect year round for staying cozy and roasting s’mores.

Let it Flow

An exterior water feature such as a pond, fountain or waterfall will help make your outdoor oasis a place of relaxation. The subtle sound of flowing water can help you and your guests unwind all the more for maximum enjoyment of the warm weather. In addition, you can enhance the appeal with outdoor lights which reflect on the water and set an enchanting evening mood.

Creating luxury outdoor spaces is a great way to maximize your enjoyment of the summer months. Hallmark can help you make the perfect design choices for your outdoor living space. Contact us to learn more about new homes with plenty of exterior space for designing the perfect outdoor retreat.

Simple Home Maintenance Tips for Spring

Categories: Bucks County Homes, DIY Home Projects, New Home Tips | Posted: April 16, 2021

As the warmer months approach, seasonal cleaning and upkeep of your home is a time-honored homeowner tradition. This is a great opportunity to open up the doors for some fresh air and get in touch with all aspects of your home after the winter months.

Routine spring home maintenance is also a great way to keep your house tidy and to ensure that it continues to increase in value. These checklist items are perfect for a sunny weekend afternoon, and can fortify the lasting durability of your home.

It’s Not Called “Spring Cleaning” for Nothing

Spring is a great time to clean areas of the house that often get neglected. Dust or wipe chair rails, window casings, tops of wall-mounted cabinets and ceiling fans. Clean any fabric drapes and use a damp cloth to clean wood or vinyl blinds. Vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses. Clean your hardwood floors by sweeping or vacuuming. Anything you can do to remove any dust, mites and allergens will make for a cleaner, and healthier, home.

In the kitchen you can consider washing cabinets, backsplashes and walls with warm water and mild detergent. You can do the same in the bathroom, where soap residue and fluctuations in heat and humidity combine to create the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Helpful Hint: Consider using a carpet cleaner if you would like an even deeper clean on upholstered furniture and mattresses.

Make Sure To Keep Your Gutters Flowing

Rain gutters and downspouts can become clogged with debris from falling twigs and blowing leaves. To keep the rainwater flowing downward, a thorough cleaning every spring is a great idea. You can hire a professional, or if you have a ladder and gloves, you can do it yourself.

Helpful Hint: Organic matter taken from rain gutters makes excellent topsoil for your flower beds and vegetable gardens.

Don’t Forget To Check Your Roof

Have a good look at the condition of the roof. Hail, wind and flying debris can damage the shingles, making it easier for water to seep in and cause damage. This sort of wear and tear is rare on a new home, however — especially a property built by a highly regarded home builder such as Hallmark Homes Group.

Helpful Hint: Moss on roof shingles can be easily cleaned with a solution of half bleach and half water that can be applied and rinsed off 15 minutes later.

Keep Away the Pests

Termites tend to become active in spring, so an inspection of the basement and the exterior of the house is a good idea. If you see winged insects exiting from small holes in the wood, it is time to call an exterminator in order to protect the integrity of the structure.

Helpful Hint: There are nontoxic methods of dealing with termites including the use of heat or electricity. Plus, routine gutter cleaning is also one way to prevent termites.

Inspect Your Windows

The caulking around window exteriors can become warped by wind and sun, causing it to eventually crack and leak air. This can cause the house to lose warm or cold air — depending on the season. Removing old caulking and re-sealing the windows can save money on utility bills.

Helpful hint: When condensation gathers inside double-paned windows, it means there is a leak in the seal.

Take Care of Your Yard

New construction homes in Bucks County, PA are perfect for cultivating breathtaking lawns and landscapes. If you purchase a home from Hallmark, we are able to put down grass seed, plant trees, flower beds and add natural accents to your exact liking. All you have to do is mow, water and trim.

If your home has a sprinkler system, checking your sprinklers or irrigation in the spring can save water – and save your plants as well. Make sure none of the heads are broken or damaged. Adjust the angles of the sprinklers to make sure they are watering what needs to be. If you are unfamiliar with sprinkler maintenance, you can call a professional to take care of it as well.

Helpful hint: Keeping tree branches trimmed away from the side of the house can reduce gutter debris build-up.

Spring is a great time for a few simple home maintenance routines. Contact the experts at Hallmark to learn more about new homes that are a joy to care for year round.

Should My Home Be Multi Generational?

Categories: Bucks County Homes, Hallmark Homes Group, New Homes in Bucks County | Posted: February 26, 2021

If you frequently visit with your relatives and you love nurturing strong family ties, consider designing your next residential property to be a multigenerational home. 

According to recent reports published by the United States Census Bureau and the Pew Research Center, approximately one in five homes (four million) consists of adults living with their elders as well as their children. With the right planning, this dynamic can provide several distinct advantages in the areas of home design, finance, peace of mind and quality of life.

How Much Square Footage Do I Need?

If you work with a flexible builder such as Hallmark Homes Group, you can expand upon one of their dynamic floor plans to accommodate every member of your household. This approach can help utilize every square foot of the property by including in-law quarters with a private entrance and an internal access point, spacious bedrooms for each of the kids, optional add-on room and private areas as well as a palatial master suite so you can unwind in private luxury. Plus, the shared spaces such as the living room, dining room and kitchen can be seamlessly connected with an open-concept theme so that the house provides an overall sense of welcoming and togetherness.

Leverage Your Funds

When you’re ready to buy a new home in Bucks County, a strong financial profile is important. If you plan to live in a house with two or more generations of adults, you may have access to greater monetary resources. The more adult parties with assets can equate to a generous down payment, easy-to-obtain financing and a relatively low interest rate. Also, the more income streams there are under one roof, the easier it is to meet monthly mortgage payments and cover utility bills while saving money for other long term endeavours.     

How Can Having My Home Be Multi Generational Benefit Everyone Living There?

In a multi generational household which usually includes grandparents, parents and perhaps adult children, the chances are good that someone will almost always be home. This makes for enhanced safety and security across the premises, as someone can always look after the children, family members with special needs and the property at large. Plus, household maintenance duties and daily chores can be shared by numerous parties rather than leaving them up to just one or two people.

Relieve the Stress

Raising children while pursuing a career can be exhausting at times. Yet, with your parents or your in-laws living in the home, you can have access to economical babysitters and general child-rearing assistance at a moment’s notice. This luxury can allow parents a much-needed break from time to time while giving grandparents the exquisite joy of participating in the lives of their grandchildren. This dynamic serves to improve the quality of life for everyone involved in a partnership-themed environment. 

Designing a multi generational home is a popular choice for today’s families who want to live together. Contact us to discover how our team of flexible Bucks County builders can accommodate your busy, dynamic household. 

Top Interior Design Trends for 2021

Categories: Bucks County Homes, Hallmark Homes Group, Home Design Trends | Posted: February 12, 2021

As a future homeowner, a great way to start 2021 is to consider some of the latest design trends for indoor spaces. As you start to imagine the layout and floor plan of your new house, it is helpful to take note of all the ways in which different areas are being used to meet the needs of modern lifestyles.

Today, homes are so much more than just a place of rest at night and on weekends. They are dynamic, multi-functional environments for working, playing, living, learning and so much more. By working with a builder like Hallmark Homes Group, you can maximize the personal and professional value of your residential property by creating unique settings for specific purposes.

Create A Dynamic Workspace

Working from home and learning online are becoming increasingly common, so it makes sense to designate an entire bedroom, basement or owner’s suite “retreat” area as a home office or remote classroom. These spaces can be painted in neutral tones and minimally decorated to avoid distraction. Plus, you can request to your builder that they be wired with additional electrical outlets to accommodate computers, charging stations, printers, modems and perhaps a conveniently-located coffee maker.

Workout in the Comfort Your New Home

Exercising at home has been one of the hottest new trends of the past year, and you can get the most out of your home gym by designating the space during the design phase of your new home in Bucks County. The expert home builders at Hallmark can make sure that your workout room has the exact type of hardwood, tile or heavy duty carpet of your choice as well as ample power outlets for equipment, large mirrors on the walls and abundant lighting. You can choose wall coverings with inspirational images or sayings to keep you motivated towards your fitness goals.

Choose Warmer Colors & Tones

Your cozy, shared spaces may see lots of daily use during family time. Choosing warm, earthy tones can help maximize the relaxing quality of the living room and the family room. Furniture with deep wood hues and finishing trim of natural materials like wicker and rattan are excellent ways to warm up an area. You can wrap it all up with rich color schemes on the wall and decor that welcomes such as amber lighting and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Entertainment is Essential

Investing in a bigger screen TV, a bolder sound system and a more dynamic lighting scheme will provide you with home entertainment, which is possibly more popular than ever. Imagine a recreational area that matches the excitement of your favorite theater or venue. You can choose dark tones for the walls like a movie theater and super-soft, relaxed seating that welcomes visitors for a nice, long stay.

Modern homes are becoming dynamic places for a wide variety of important activities. Contact us to learn more about a new home layout that can be designed to meet all of your family’s daily needs.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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