I like pretty things especially when they’re also shiny, so it shouldn’t come to any surprise to you that I love tile patterns! I decided to round up some of my favorite tile designs, in no particular order. We have so many creative options to offer our home-buyers whether spacious kitchens or relaxing bathrooms!
*Edited 7/26/16 to include better detail about the effect of interest rates on buying power*
We all know that there are certain advantages that come with building: customization, quality control, planned neighborhoods, etc. Less known, are the benefits of building for completion this year. Since the deadline is fast approaching to build your home for completion within the year, we decided to share some of the benefits for those of you on the fence.
Low Interest Rates
-Rates are holding steady now but this is expected to change soon. With rates at historic lows and the Fed looking to increase, rates don’t have anywhere to go but up.
-Get more home for your money now! With lower interest rates, you can afford more home. When rates rise, your hard earned dollar will be eaten by interest. The table below is from this site and illustrates the impact of rising interest on your monthly budget.
Max Principle & Interest
DFW on the Rise
-The cost of older homes, and home sites are on the rise, and expected to continue with the steady stream of new jobs coming to the metroplex.
-As property prices rise, rent prices rise.
First Time Buyer Advantages
-There are still funds available for First Time Buyer programs! Both the government and the banks have programs specifically for first time buyers.
-Take advantage of Down payment assistance programs with low interest rates. See a community sales counselor for qualifying details
-Qualify for your full homestead exemption when you purchase a home before 2017!
-Take advantage of tax savings in 2016! Any Mortgage Interest, property taxes and points paid on your loan will be tax deductible for your 2016 tax return!
We have the Best Kept Secret In Fort Worth- An Exceptional First Time Home Buyer Program! Call us now to find out more 1-800-ANTARES 1800-268-2737
If you have never owned a home or have not owned a home in the last three years you’ve got to take advantage of this great First Time Home Buyer Program we are offering! Would you like help with Down Payment and Closing Costs? How about help that you don’t have to pay back? With interest rates so low and home prices on the verge of dramatic increases the time is now! Don’t miss out. Call one of our Fort Worth Neighborhoods for more details on how to qualify for this great program!
Did you buy blinds for your home and forget about doing something with the full view back door? I have an easy solution- Magnetic Curtain rods. A quick Google search will turn up a dozen varieties and prices. You can find them anywhere from $7.98 to $20. I recently bought one for my back door which is a half glass door at Wal-Mart. I also bought some of those plain (solid color, no goofy pattern) 1/2 window type curtains you can find in your Grandma’s kitchen. Perfect!
Have you noticed that although the weather in North Texas has been very Bipolar of late, we only get the cold and dreary stuff on the weekends? I’m all stuck inside working while it’s bright and sunny and warm and then the weekend comes and I can’t bring myself to get out of bed because the weather is so disappointing. So to cheer myself up, I decided to make Caldo de Pollo. That’s chicken soup, Mexican Style.
My first order of business was to call all my relatives to find out how they make Mexican Rice, since I’d never made it before (or even Chicken Soup for that matter). My cousin Feliz had a completely different way of making it than my sister. My cousin Yvette didn’t call me back (she hates sharing her recipes because they are the best) but I have eaten her rice and watched her make it in the rice cooker once before. After heavy consultation, I did what I always do and take the best ideas from every one else and make it my own way.
I decided to make the rice and the chicken soup separately and then add them together when I served it up. I used boneless skinless chicken tenderloins instead of a whole chicken since I don’t like bones or skin or dark meat. I put quite a bit of low sodium, fat free chicken broth in my crock pot, added the chicken tenderloins and cranked that baby up. Now it’s time for the rice.
I used brown rice, which was the first departure from tradition. I browned it with some onions and garlic in a skillet. Then I dumped it unceremoniously in the rice cooker and added a can of Rotel with cilantro. That was the second departure from tradition. Most people I know use tomato paste or tomato sauce. I also know a lot of people who add peas and carrots to their rice, but I’ve never like it that way. Instead of water I cooked the rice with more chicken broth.
I did chop up carrots and celery and add that to the chicken and broth fiesta in the crock pot. After a while there was a chicken-y scum floating on the top, but I was too lazy to skim it or strain it. Hey, I’m an amateur!
No, I didn’t forget to list the spices. I didn’t add any. I left that up to the can of Rotel and the natural yumminess of the ingredients I was using.
After everything cooked up to perfection (I mean I went to the gym, had a shower and was now ready for my lunch which was bubbling up nicely in the crock pot all morning) I served myself a half a cup of rice and a cup of chicken soup on top. YUM!
We are in a drought. Yes, I know we just got drenched by record setting rains a couple of weeks ago, but we are still in a drought. There is still the threat of more severe water restrictions hanging over our heads as we begin to think about our gardens for the Spring. Yes, it can get worse! Did you know that during warm weather, 40 to 60% of your water bill is spent on outdoor watering? What do you do?
The first step in dealing will all of this is to know your restrictions. Each City that we build in has a web page that lets you know what you are dealing with.
Then you can find other ways to conserve water that don’t involve outdoor watering. For example, did you know the City of Fort Worth is GIVING AWAY low flow toilets? Antares Homes always installs them on our new homes, but if you don’t have one of our homes you can use one of these water saving thrones yourself!
You can also schedule a free irrigation audit with the City of Fort Worth to determine if your sprinkler system is operating at peak performance.
And then, there is your yard. Did you know some grasses are more drought tolerant than others? We install Bermuda Grass on our new homes and that grass can go 7-8 days without watering. There are also native plants and flowers that require less water as well. Using these plants at your home is called Xeriscaping. North Central Texas Smartscape has a great website with loads of tools for Xeriscaping your home. It can be as simple or complicated as you desire!
If you purchased an inventory home from us, you most likely have a home that includes an upgraded carpet from either Mohawk or Shaw. Upgraded carpets are our first choice in our inventory homes because they have longer warranties than base grade carpet. They also include Stain and Soil Resistant Technologies that are better than the base grade which translates into happier homeowners for us!
Have you ever stopped to think that in most homes, the carpet is the largest area covered that takes a beating daily? Most homeowners are concerned with how to take care of their carpet and prevent spills from staining. Did you know there is a difference between “Soil” and “Stain”? A stain is the red dye left over from a Gatorade spill. Soil is the dirt that can penetrate in between the fibers causing a darkening of the look of the carpet. Our upgraded Shaw carpets all have R2X technology which is a wash of the fibers that combines a stain and soil resistance which is better than a topical treatment (like spraying Scotchguard on your carpet before you move in) which only affects the topmost fibers of your carpet. Mohawk uses a similar wash technique for their Revive technology.
Here are some great carpet care tips compiled from the Shaw and Mowhak websites.
Preventative measures like mats at outside entry areas can reduce the amount of soil tracked into your home.
Move your furniture around. This can refresh the pile under heavy pieces.
Clean area rugs often and check for colorfastness before laying them over your carpet.
Vacuuming. Did you know it’s not just a once a week chore? In heavy traffic areas of your home, you should vacuum the traffic lanes daily and the entire area twice weekly. One pass of the vacuum is not enough either-up to three passes for light soiling and five to seven passes for heavy soiling. Change the vacuum direction on each pass to refresh the pile and prevent matting.
Cut burned parts of carpet with curved nail scissors.
Always blot spills, never rub or scrub aggressively. Here is a quick link for specific spill instructions from Shaw. Here is another one from Mohawk.
Have your carpets professionally cleaned by hot water extraction, most commonly known as “Steam Cleaning” every twelve to eighteen months depending on the number of occupants in the home
Most folks only sell 2 or 3 homes in their lifetime. In order to sell it quickly and for the highest price, and buy the home you really want, you’ll want to appeal to the most people possible in the marketplace. Below are some great tips that our selling experts can teach you about selling your existing home.
Cater to the lazy person
Most buyers want to move in and unpack. By getting your home ready before you sell, it could mean a much faster sale at a higher price.
Box it up
Your home is where you spend the majority of your time, so there may be things in your home that you love, but others see as clutter. Most people pack up their home after they sell it, but why wait? Sellers should pack up things before they put it on the market. This will allow potential buyers to see how large the rooms are and “picture” their own items in the home, not yours. Take down the personal pictures, mounted deer head and photos. One potential buyer could be an animal lover and another potential buyer could be a political activist. No one can tell who will view the home. The typical time that a buyer spends in a home on the first visit is 20 minutes. You want the focus of the buyer to be entirely on the house and how their possessions will look in your space.
Remember that most buyers spend most of their time analyzing a home in the kitchen and family room. If you need to spend money (such as painting) put it in these rooms first. Then, pick a spot to focus their attention in every room. For example, the focal point of a bedroom is usually the bed. Make sure the bedspreads and pillows look fresh and well made.
Clear off the clutter. Remove the coffee pots, the plants, the blenders and the bread. Remove it all. Give a clean look to the kitchen. You can make a stainless steel sink shine with thrifty cleaning remedies such as baby oil or club soda.
Polish the hardwoods and clean the floors
Call the experts for this. A good carpet cleaning from a professional will cost about $180 in a typical 2000 foot home. Practically any beaten up hardwood can be salvaged with refinishing. Cost? About $340 to $900 for a 15’x15’ room. Call a professional to clean the grout or plan to spend an entire afternoon scrubbing the grout lines to your tile. Zep is a grout cleaner that is easily available (check Lowe’s and Home Depot) and used in commercial applications. Little scrubbing is required, but be sure to follow the directions. An investment of $100 can give you thousands more in the price of an offer on your home.
Brighten up your Home
Buyers today want lots of light filled rooms. Install higher wattage light bulbs and make sure to open all the curtains and blinds completely when showing the home. New light fixtures are a way to create ambience.
A few gallons of paint can go a long way in making a home more chic and the cost can’t be beat. Covering a 12×12 room with two coats of paint will cost about $50. Use up-to-date neutral colors. Reserve any trendier or darker colors for accent walls or to highlight details such as a fireplace or arched doorway. Common color picks for accent walls are green, (not lime), stone grey or dark red. Or, instead of introducing a new color, use the paint in the rest of the room as a guide and choose a color that’s 3 shades darker than the rest. Paint the baseboards with a fresh coat of white paint, but don’t use a stark white, which can take on gray tones against some wall colors.
Find Inspiration for your Projects
Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Williams Sonoma all have some great design ideas.
Don’t forget about all the senses
A house can be perfect inside and out, but if it smells bad, buyers will likely be put off. Make sure there is not noticeable odor, such as pet smells, garbage, stale smoke, etc that will turn off others. It’s a good idea to use a room freshener (plug-ins are great, vanilla is best) in the home, but make sure that there isn’t a different fragrance used in each room of the home. Another great idea is to pour a bottle of Pine-fresh in the back of a toilet before a showing. Your whole house will smell clean and fresh.
Don’t guess on the Pricing
Asking price is the single most important reason that a property does not sell. In this buyer’s market, it is a mistake to set a high price and assume that you can lower it later, if necessary, in negotiations. Area real estate agents pay the most attention to listings when they first appear on the market. These days, they might not even bother to show your home to buyers if it is overpriced. If you start out too high, by the time you lower your price, real estate agents will have newer listings to show buyers. The buyers who do see your home will view your price cut as a sign of desperation and bid low. Pricing your home as a slight bargain will ensure that as many buyers as possible will walk through your door.
Good luck! If you need information about how to save 75% off the typical Realtor listing fee, come visit with our sales consultants and ask about our Move-Up Program which gives you access to top producing Realtors and world class service. The Antares Move-Up program success rate has averaged 96% during the economic downturn (the past 3 years). Come and see us to find out how the program can make a difference to you.
Want to learn to cook a Spaghetti Squash? It’s pretty easy.
If you have ever watched The Biggest Loser or any other weight loss shows, I am sure you have heard of Spaghetti Squash as a great alternative to pasta. I have been on a big health kick since February of this year and I think I have eaten pasta only twice in that time span. I can’t handle the carbs and calories in my diet. But recently I have been craving pasta. So, on a whim at the grocery store this past weekend I thought I’d buy a Spaghetti Squash.
I got really excited thinking about all the ways I used to eat pasta and what I could cook to go with the spaghetti squash. I was really squealing with joy. So after a quick Google query on how to cook the thing, I was off! I set the oven to 375° and got the Big Knife from the set I received as a wedding gift. I have only used that knife like, three times and only on a watermelon, so I was unprepared for how tough a Spaghetti Squash is! I was fighting that thing and praying the knife didn’t fly out of my hands and hit my dogs (who always hang out in the kitchen when I get the cutting board out). Finally after wrestling with it and not cutting myself or my furry friends (whew!) I began the drudgery of scooping out the pulp. Hated it.
Next I placed it rind up on a baking sheet and set the timer for 35 minutes. After it cooked, I let it cool for a while until it was only slightly warm to the touch. The website I visited on how to cook it warned of burns if you scraped it too soon. It was so easy! I just took the fork and scraped it from one end to the other and it fell right into the plastic container. Since I am the only one in my house who will even look at a vegetable I was worried that I would have too much. But since I ate half a container of it at my first sitting, I think I’m safe!
On my first taste it was a little sweet. I thought that was OK since I usually add a little sweetener to my homemade pasta sauce, I’d just plan to leave it out. My favorite way to eat pasta is as a side dish with a little butter and cheese and seasonings. So I paired it with my steak and sprinkled a little garlic salt and some Italian seasoning on it. No butter or cheese, but I’m used to that now. I. Was.In. Heaven. It had a slight crunch that I adored. So the conclusion: Spaghetti Squash-Good and Easy to make! Four Stars on this veggie!