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Lacrosse Homes Blog 

Stay up to date with LAX news, events & all things home building!

New vs Used

New vs Used
There’s nothing like a new home!
We admit it, we’re a bit biased, since we’re new home builders, but there really are a host of reasons why buying a new home offers several benefits. First, and maybe most important, the home is new and will perform better. By performance, we’re referring to these components that are used to build, construct and finish your new home:
• Building materials and practices
• Energy-star rated appliances
• Energy efficient windows
• Hi-tech wiring
• Safety features
• Advanced heating/cooling systems, etc.
What’s not to like?? There’s no need to “settle” for a home that doesn’t quite meet your needs/desires. Builders offer numerous plans with various design elements and customization options to enable you to find the “dream” home. And once you settle on a plan design, your new home will have all your “must haves” and you’ve got a warranty that supports your purchase.

Different Types of Mortgages Explained

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Different Types of Mortgages Explained.

 

If you’re looking to buy a new home you’ve undoubtedly met with a mortgage loan officer to explore the various types of loans available to you.  Here’s a list of the most common mortgage products with a simple definition of what they offer:

 

Conventional / Fixed Rate Mortgage 

The name explains it best – with this loan your monthly payments don’t change over the life of the loan.  They are set at a ‘fixed rate’ so you know what your payment will be every month. 

 

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) –

The idea behind this type of loan is that the interest rate changes, or adjusts, over the life of the loan.  You will see descriptions like “5/1 ARM” which means the interest rate stays the same for the first five years of the loan and then adjusts periodically (monthly or yearly depending on the loan) over the balance of the term.

 

FHA Loans -

This loan is designed to assist low & moderate income borrowers.  With an FHA loan you can purchase with a lower down payment and the credit score required to qualify is lower than that required by the conventional/fixed rate mortgage products.   As with any mortgage product, you must meet certain qualifications to use that loan.

 

VA Loans –

VA loans are available to eligible veterans for the purchase of a home they will occupy (not available on investment homes) with no down payment. On top of getting 100% financing, a VA loan does not require mortgage insurance which equates to sizable savings on yearly mortgage insurance expenses.

 

USDA Loans –

The US Dept. of Agriculture offers mortgages to encourage homeownership in rural areas.  These loans offer 100% financing (no down payment required) and have low mortgage insurance rates.  Your home must be located in an eligible area and you must have a minimum credit score of 640 to qualify.

 

There are several other loan products available – Jumbo, Balloon, Interest-Only…the list goes on. We’ve shared some of the most popular loans with her in this blog post.  The important thing is to be knowledgeable about what’s available and to work with a reputable mortgage loan officer who will guide you toward the safest, most prudent and appropriate loan for you.

Managing the finance aspect of buying a new home.

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Managing the finance aspect of buying a new home.

If you’re new to buying a home, or a seasoned vet, the mortgage and financing process can be daunting.  It doesn’t have to be that way when Lacrosse Homes is with you every step of the way. Here’s how...

Step 1

HOW MUCH YOU CAN AFFORD?

To help you determine a comfortable monthly investment, we’ll review the financial programs/incentives that our mortgage partners provide to determine which program is the best fit for you.

Step 2

CUSTOMIZE YOUR HOME

We will prepare an estimate including your selections which will detail all of the costs associated with buying your new home, such as monthly payment and cash needed to close on your new home.

Step 3

PURCHASE AGREEMENT

Once you secure your homesite, confirm your price and incentives we officially secure your lot/home! An initial deposit will be required to proceed. (NOTE: In the event that you are not able to obtain a mortgage commitment according to the Purchase Agreement your deposit will be refunded).

Step 4

MORTGAGE APPLICATION

Within 7 days of signing your Purchase Agreement, we will schedule your loan application to begin the mortgage process.  We have relationships with several excellent mortgage companies, each offering competitive rates.

Step 5

ADDITIONAL DEPOSITS

30 days from signing the Purchase Agreement, your second deposit is due.  This is what we require as a good faith deposit in order to begin construction on your home with your personalized selections!  You may not be required to pay us any additional funds until closing.

Step 6

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS!

Once we receive your deposit, mortgage approval, and a building permit, construction of your home can begin!  We will arrange a meeting with your builder so you understand the construction process, and discuss the events of the exciting months ahead!

Six Steps to Selling Your Current Home.

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Six Steps to Selling Your Current Home.

Its spring and that means an active home sales market.  With interest rates dipping, there’s even more activity, so now’s a great time to think about making that move to a new home.  If you need to sell your current home, make sure you’ve set yourself up for success by following these six easy steps to Sold!!

 

Get Representation.
You can certainly sell your home on your own, but using the services of a skilled listing agent will enable you to act with confidence when it comes to determining a list price and following through on all the legal aspects of home sales.
An agent will compare your home based on “comps” – square footage, features and location – to help you make as much on the sale as you can.  Follow the plan the Realtor provides to move you through the process.

Clean and brighten things up.
You know what they say about first impressions…they really do matter.  Make sure yours, from the exterior “curb appeal” to the entire inside of your home says “buy me!”
Pay attention to how the house smells and looks.  Deep clean everything – toilets, sinks, the garage, mop floors, clean rugs, get rid of pet and other smells/odors.  Make sure all light fixtures work and have an operable light bulb in them. If you need help, call in the professionals to help bring the shine back to your residence.

Hire a Handyman.
Speaking of hiring professionals, you should have someone on hand that can fix all the small things you’ll find that need fixing -- locks, hardware, leaky faucets, running toilets, cracks in the walls, broken appliances, squeaky doors, etc.

Declutter!
It’s time to pack away all the knick knacks, family photos, cherished collectibles you inherited from your Grandma, religious ornamentation and essentially anything that visually closes in the space.  You may need to rent a storage locker to temporarily store your excess stuff.  Do it – its money well spent!  You want your rooms to shine, not your furniture and “stuff.”  Organizing your space and cleaning out closets, attic storage, garage areas will help the new owners visualize their own things in your home. 

Make it “neutral.”
That means getting rid of the apple green kitchen walls and the mellow-yellow rec room…paint over all those bright walls by sticking to neutral colors like light grays, beiges and white.  Aside from making your rooms look bigger and brighter, fresh paint will cover some wall imperfections.

Stage your home.
Our last step is so important.  Staging your home will help it sell faster and for more money. Why do you think builders decorate model homes?  People need some help visualizing a space and when it’s properly done, with furniture that fits the scale of the space, it gets sold, often faster than an un-staged property.  Zillow offers some great ideas below:
Set the table: It’s a nice finishing touch that, again, can help the buyer visualize living there. Holiday dinner party, anyone?
Only style with polished accents: For example, only stage your master bath with new bath towels, or none at all. Just say no to your still-drying bath towels from this morning’s shower.
Make the space appear larger: Add mirrors to reflect light, swap a heavy powder room cabinet for a pedestal sink, or remove a leaf from your huge dining room table.
Show value in unusual floor plans: Highlight what makes your home unique and special. Add a reading nook, show the benefit of an extra storage area, or tuck a desk in an unused corner.
Use extra rooms deliberately: Never leave a room empty. Instead, make that unused guest room feel usable, staging it as an office, craft room, or guest bedroom — but never all of those things at once!

 

Andy Claxton Biography

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Andy Claxton is a sales consultant at Lacrosse Homes.  With over 25 years in the construction industry, he has the experience to work with a wide variety of projects from first time home buyers to custom waterfront homes.  After growing up in Annapolis, he played Lacrosse at the University of Maryland and has spent the last 20 years living on the eastern shore with his wife and seven children.  Andy spends his free time coaching multiple youth athletic teams and as well as helping at the local children's theatre. 

 

Lindsay Dixon Biography

Lindsay Dixon founded Lacrosse Homes in 1994. Inspired from his success as an All-American and World Team lacrosse player, and with the encouragement of his grandfather, Lindsay created LaxStone Communities/Lacrosse Homes with the vision of becoming a premier builder of quality, hand-crafted homes along the Maryland and Delaware shores.  Building on teamwork, competitive spirit and a passion for excellence, Lacrosse Homes has earned a reputation for quality craftsmanship, personal hands-on service and creating convenient neighborhoods that make the most of the area’s natural surroundings.  Here’s some personal info on Lindsay: 

Where did you grow up? Annapolis, Maryland 

What’s your fondest childhood memory?  Playing sports outside in all types of weather. 

College mascot?  I have a Psychology degree from Towson University, where “Doc” the Tiger is the mascot. 

Family pets? Two cats, Ash and Lacy. 

Hobbies? 

Lacrosse and golf!  It should be no surprise that lacrosse is important to me given my collegiate history and the fact that I named my company after this sport!  Golf is also a favorite pastime – check out the names of all our house types!  

Favorite job as a kid? Working on a pier loading boats with gas and beer. 

Best thing about your day-to-day work? Meeting new people and realizing all the great moments ahead they will have in their new home. 

Favorite quote? “Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it.” Charles R. Swindell 

If you could have dinner with one famous person, dead or alive, who would that be and why? 

Ronald Reagan. I would like to hear the challenges he met along the road and how it changed his path. 

Describe the Lacrosse Homes brand by comparing it to an automobile and explain why. Ford, American made and a great value for all. 

Meet Your Delaware Area Sales Representative – Gheri McAllister

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Gheri is a Sales Consultant with Lacrosse Homes, LLC.  She is involved in the entire process with her customers from sales presentations, to contract status, designer selection process to the close of the customer’s home.

Within 17 years in new home sales, Gheri has been honored with numerous awards for exceeding year-end sales goals, exceeding multi-million dollar sales each year, employee of the month, employee of the year.  Her highest level of achievement was being named Delaware’s Home Builder Regal Award Winner for Outstanding Sales Person for the State of Delaware.

Having lived all over the country, her last move was from New York City to the beaches.  She now resides in Laurel, DE with her infamous and enormous Fox Red Lab, Ragnar.  They can routinely be found on a brisk walk through town, or romping on our sandy beaches in the Summer.

Please email Gheri at gmcallister@laxhomes.com or call at 302-218-4362.

Tod Hammons- Your Eastern Shore Sales Expert

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Tod has been involved in new construction sales for over ten years, all of that time on the Eastern Shore. He has earned multiple awards, working with the nation's largest home builder; all the way down to a very small family operation. 

Tod is the new home consultant for Ellendale, Ashby Commons and other communities in Easton. 

Tod enjoys flying airplanes and coaching/helping out with his daughter's girls’ soccer team when not actively helping someone find their new home.

Understand Credit Scoring

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Three.  Simple.  Digits. 

Did you know your credit/FICO score can stand between you and the home you’re looking to buy? 

When people talk about their “credit score” they’re talking about three numbers ranging from 300 (very bad) to 820 (very good) that you can find on your credit report which is a list of all your credit accounts including the payment history of those accounts.  Three credit bureaus -- Experian, TransUnion and Equifax – compile and maintain this data.  "The credit report does not rate your credit," says Maxine Sweet, Experian's vice president of public education. "It simply lays out the facts of your history."  

How is your score determined? 

The formula takes into account payment history, how much you owe vs how much total credit you have available, the types of credit and frequency with which you apply for credit: 

  • Payment History - 35 percent: Making payments on time, no missed payments on all credit accounts, and having a long credit history are key items lenders look for. Lenders believe that applicants with a higher score are more likely to make their loan payments on time. 
  • Amount Owed- 30 percent If you’re maxed out on all your credit cards that will lower your score.   
  • Length of Credit History - 15 percent:  If you’ve maintained credit for a long time that will help your score. 
  • New Credit - 10 percent: Opening several new credit accounts in a short period of time can lower your credit score.  
  • Types of Credit in Use - 10 percent: Your mix of credit cards, retail accounts, finance company loans and mortgage loans is considered. 

You can buy credit reports separately from each company. The company will also provide you with a credit score. However, it won't be you FICO® score, which is what you really need to know. 

Get your FICO score from www.myfico.com starting at $19.95.   You’ll get a full credit report and FICO® Score 8, the FICO® Score most widely used by lenders, based on that report, as well as additional FICO® Score versions, including a prior base FICO® Score version — often used in mortgage decisions — and industry-specific auto and bankcard versions. Plus, each report comes with an interest rate estimator. See how your score range may impact your interest rate on a home loan. 

Need to raise your credit score?  Read on. 

It won’t happen overnight, but it can be done fairly quickly and recent “good behavior” is scored in your favor.  Here are some tips:  

  1. Payment history makes up the largest part of your FICO score so PAY BILLS ON TIME!  If you have a late payment, call the lender and see if they’ll remove this information from your records. 
  1. When you pay down your balances you’ll see the biggest improvement in your score because it lowers the amount of credit you’re using.  Remember, the smaller percentage of available credit you’re using, the better.  Some people suggest never using more than 50 percent of your limit on any card. 
  1. Don’t open a lot of new accounts all at once.  We understand you’re excited when you go to contract but steer clear of racking up credit card bills during the purchasing period– you can wait to buy that new dining table or sofa AFTER you’ve settled on your place!! Also, don’t close more accounts than necessary because this will lower your ratio of debt to available credit and that can hurt you.  
  1. Rotate the use all of your credit cards.  Dormant credit will not help your score.   

A good credit score will serve you well in many areas of your life, not just when it comes to buying a new home.  Work with a good lender, like Redwood Mortgage http://www.redwood-mortgage.com/lacrosse-homes/ and we’ll help you realize your dream of homeownership.

Bruce Orr Vice President of Sales, Lacrosse Homes

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Where did you grow up? 

I was raised in Central New Jersey outside of Princeton, NJ. I moved to Pittsburgh, PA after I graduated high school. 

What’s your fondest childhood memory? 

I would have to say growing up in a rural part of NJ, I remember playing outside in our neighborhood and working on a cattle farm. It was very hard work for very little pay but it was extremely satisfying. When you finished your day, you knew you earned every penny. 

College mascot? 

I did my undergraduate degree at Penn State (Nittany Lion) and my graduate work at University of Pittsburgh (Panther). 

 Family pets? 

We had cats and black labs for most of my life. We only have fish now; I don’t have to let them out at 2am. 

Hobbies? 

I like to golf, fish, bike ride and play with my kids but that really isn’t a hobby.  

Favorite job as a kid? 

Working on a farm and working in a grocery store stocking shelves at night. 

Best thing about your day-to-day work? 

Hands down, the people I work with. 

 

Favorite quote? 

Not sure who said it but “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. 

If you could have dinner with one famous person, dead or alive, who would that be and why? 

Albert Einstein. I think he was one of the most creative and interesting people of the last century and I am sure he would be fascinating to speak to on any and all topics. Plus, I understand he had a great sense of humor and did not take himself too seriously. 

Describe the Lacrosse Homes brand by comparing it to an automobile (i.e. Acura, Ford, etc.) and explain why. 

I am not sure it would be one company. I think we are like Toyota as it relates to quality and durability. We are like Tesla as it relates to energy efficiency. We are like no other car company in that we are a semi-custom home builder and work with the customer to build them their dream home.

Energy Efficient Homes

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Newly built homes are up to 30% more efficient than homes built just 10 years ago, according to research by NewHomeSource.com http://startfresh.newhomesource.com/ 

Greatly reduce your home utility and maintenance costs with LAXMax – our premier Energy Shield System!! 

When you build your new home with Lacrosse you’ll get the benefit of numerous energy efficient design components which make our homes superior – inside and out! 

  • Foam-Lok™ closed cell spray insulation provides superior energy economy and durability whilesignificantly reducing unmanaged moisture, outside pollutants, noise reduction and air infiltration.

Foam-Lok™ provides exceptional performance in minimizing heat transfer, moisture gain, air leakage and improving racking strength.* 

  • Draft stopping – spray foam is applied to joints and other areas of the homes’exterior envelopto prevent airflow exchange between the inside and outside of the home as well as between floors. 
  • Saving on energy costs helps you and the environment.
  • Exterior wall construction with 2x4 studs with 16” on center spacing allows for greater strength,stability and energy efficiency.
  • Fiberglass Batt insulation in exterior wall cavities.
  • Third party blower door tests are conducted on every home to ensure that the building envelopis sealed and exceeds current building code requirements.
  • Average air leakage in a standard existing home today is 15 Air Changes per Hour (ACH).

The average new home is 7 ACH. With the LAXMax Energy Shield System*, our average is 2 ACH. 

  • House wrap is applied to each home Lacrosse constructs and is applieddirectly to the exteriorsheathing of the home. Exterior sheathing is 1/2” OSB structural panels. 
  • All windows are caulked, taped and flashed during the installation process.
  • All windows are low E glass which reduces heat transfer and damaging ultraviolet light.
  • Rinnai™tanklesshot water heaters are highly efficient due to its “on demand” capabilities. 

The Rinnai use much less energy, they take up less space in the home, it provides instant hot water, and has double the life span as a traditional water heater.* 

  • HVAC duct work is sealed with R-Value rated sealant which reduces leakage and improves the overallenergy efficiency of the home.
  • A higher efficiency home reduces the workload on the mechanical systemsof the home which lowers maintenance and increases longevity.

 

 

Eight Great Reasons to Purchase a New Home vs. a Pre-Owned Property:

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Competitive pricing – new homes are less likely to be overpriced.  Once you compare square footage pricing and options costs you are in a better position to determine the real value of the home you’re considering buying. 

Warranties – You’ll receive a one-year warranty on the home itself and a warranty on major appliances including HVAC systems, appliances etc.  We also offer you a structural warranty which is underwritten by an insurance company.   

Modern finishes – you’ll have the benefit of a home with the latest makes and models of appliances and other state-of-the-art equipment.  There’s no need to update anything after you’ve moved in because it’s all NEW and chosen by you!!  With our purchasing power you may be able to upgrade items at a lower cost than buying on your own. 

Excellent financing – this can be a major obstacle in purchasing a home but when you work with a new home builder you get the benefit of our established relationships with mortgage partners who will work hard to secure your loan.  We’ve negotiated the best rates and also help you offset closing cost expenses by paying a portion of that for you! 

Energy efficiency saves you money  new homes are required to be built to meet exacting industry standards for energy efficiency.  Our materials adhere to strict guidelines and produce future savings for you. 

Lower maintenance – by using the latest construction materials and technology to build your home you know that it will be longer before you’ll have to replace or fix/repair things.  Certainly daily use and normal wear and tear need to be considered, but with proper maintenance of your new home you should benefit from years of deferred maintenance. 

Value Appreciation –Since new homes have an assured longer life over a pre-owned home, appraisals can generally be higher than on comparable existing homes.   

Floorplan options – you have a choice of several functional floorplans to fit your lifestyle needs and desires.  If it’s not an inventory/”spec” home, we can customize the home plan design to add/eliminate walls/rooms, update materials/finishes, and generally personalize your home. That would cost you thousands of dollars and weeks of time (and headache!) to do that in an existing home.

Tax Benefits of Living in DE

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Lacrosse Homes thinks Delaware is a great place to live, for a number of reasons.  Not only is it one of the fastest growing states in the country, its location is within a two-hour drive from Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD and many parts of New Jersey.  And let’s not forget the beautiful coastal beach towns and shoreline areas that make Delaware a national tourist destination! 

One of the major factors people consider when thinking about a move to Delaware is financial in nature.  There are incredible tax benefits of living and retiring in this area.  The tax structure in neighboring states like Maryland are much more expensive than in Kent County DE.   

If you’re budget-conscious or planning your retirement you won’t go wrong choosing one of Lacrosse Homes’ new single family home communities in Dover or Magnolia Delaware. Check out these incredible financial advantages: 

  • Social Security benefits are not taxed
  • No state or local sales tax
  • No inheritance tax
  • No personal property tax
  • State income tax ranges from 2.2% to 6.6%
  • Up to $12,500 of retirement income is tax exempt for those who are 60 and older
  • Kent County's property tax is lower than average and is ranked 2nd by median property taxes 
  • Delaware Named Most Tax-Friendly State and Most Tax-Friendly State for Retirees by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine.

Our communities are not age-restricted which means you don’t have any limitations to sell to a resident who is 55 years of age or older when you go to sell your home in the future.

5 Ways to Save for Your Down Payment

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For many, having the necessary money to put down on a new home may seem like an insurmountable goal, but without making major lifestyle changes, there are some small things you can do to greatly increase your ability to save that down payment and get yourself on the road to homeownership!   

If you are active or retired military, you can purchase a home with a VA loan with $0 down payment and on select homes Lacrosse Homes may provide assistance with closing costs so your entry to a new home is very affordable.  With FHA loans, the down payment requirement may be as low as 3.5%, but remember, if you put down less than 20% you will be required to pay mortgage insurance.   

Here are some super easy ideas on ways you can save for your down payment: 

  1. Brown bag it – preparing meals at home for lunch at work, and foregoing the morning stop for coffee and a bagel can really add up.  Try it for one month and put all the money you would normally spend aside – it’s bound to be couple of hundred dollars. 

 

  1. Do you have a gym membership? If you haven’t been there in a month or more, cancel or freeze your membership.  Consider this:  according to statistic brain, 67% of people with a gym membership don’t use them.  Chances are you’re paying more than $25 a month and that equals $300/year. 

 

 

  1. What did you do with your tax refund?  This could be amount to a substantial lump sum that will set your down payment savings program in high gear.  

 

  1. Call your local cable, phone and insurance companies to ask for a lower rate.  You might even qualify for a loyalty discount.  Doesn’t hurt to ask and chances are you’ll come away with some sort of reduction in your fees, or increased services. 

 

  1. Renting?  Can you get a roommate to help offset your costs?  How about rooming with a family member – remember, it’s not forever, you have a goal in mind and time moves fast, so this temporary solution will pay dividends when it comes to saving for your down payment. 

 

Check out www.laxhomes.com and www.redwood-mortgage.com for more details. 

What to Expect When Closing

It’s closing day!

This is a very exciting time you’re about to get the keys to your new home. Throughout the buying process you’ve been provided with lots of paperwork good faith estimate, contract, proof of insurance, home appraisal etc. Make sure you have all your paperwork with you at your closing. A few days prior to your closing your builder will invite you for a walk thru of your home. This is your pre-settlement inspection to make sure the home is in the condition and including the features/finishes your contract spells out. If there are any issues, the builder will work with you to complete the home in time for your settlement to occur. At closing you will sign lots of documents. And we mean LOTS! You will see paperwork from your lender regarding the terms and conditions of your mortgage. Your hand might be a bit tired from signing all the legal documents but it will be so worth it!! Our mortgage partner, Redwood Mortgage, will have explained everything to you in advance so there shouldn’t be any surprises. Plus, you’ll be with people that can advise you through the entire process from closing agent, real estate agent (if you have one) and possibly even the lender. The closing agent will conduct the settlement and makes sure that all documents are signed and recorded and that all necessary fees and payments are paid and properly distributed. You will receive a HUD-1 settlement statement, a deed of trust, certificate of occupancy, and your house keys.

Now, get moving!!

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