The Plan That Stole Our Hearts

We love all of our floorplans.  When they’re still under design, we post them on a white board for all employees to comment on.  Our company employs former chefs and interior designers amongst those with other specialties.  We squeeze every possible cool feature into the allotted space in every floorplan together.  Each plan is a work of the heart that involves every employee’s feedback.

View from the study!
View from the study!

As a parent, you try not to pick favorites, but we all know you do.  Home builders can have the same sort of struggle. Especially marketers who get to work with the plans a lot after they’re finished and then spend hours editing and posing pictures. We definitely have a favorite.  Don’t tell the other plans.  We cannot get enough of our 2092 layout!

2092-rc-s-224-carson-drive-sg-high-res-9
Kitchen Nook with Chandelier & 3-Sided Fireplace

The entertaining space is an ideal balance with a large open area and a closed-off formal dining.  As a native Texan, I love having people over to watch some football, but not everyone likes to actually watch the game.  These people (bless their hearts) can go into the formal dining and play games. The 3-sided fireplace is dramatic and elegant while providing separation for a third group to eat in the kitchen without interrupting the super serious football game!

2092-ld-225-frontier-drive-sg-3_high-res-13
From the Nook to the Family Room

The really amazing thing is that the open-concept entertaining space only makes up half of the plan!  This host-friendly house becomes a warm home when you move into the private rooms.  The master suite is gorgeous and features a spacious master bathroom.  The walk-in closet could really be a whole room on its own.  The two other bedrooms are well-sized and share an ample bathroom.

2092-ld-225-frontier-drive-sg-3_high-res-24
Master Bathroom

You can see why we have a special place in our hearts for the 2092, but at the end of the day we love all our floorplans.  Antares Homes builds other plans that are also gorgeous, and they all have their own special features.  We’d love to know what plans you love and why, so leave us a comment!

Until Next Time,

Rebekah

 

Nifty Keen

If you’re following us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you might have noticed things looking a little different.  As the market in the area continues to grow, we are seeking to provide our customers with the absolute BEST experience.  In order to accomplish that we are providing you with information in the best way possible, whether you are trying to envision the home we’re building for you or keeping up with the progress in one of our communities.

The most dramatic tool that we’ve recently sampled is a drone with camera attachment.  It can be a challenge to fully communicate the beauty of a well-planned community from street-level.  You can’t see the views or the nearby community center.  A higher vantage point helps you see what we know is there.  Check out this example.

The other exciting tool we’ve been exploring is a 360° camera.  We’ve been toying with taking stills for now.  They allow you to easily manipulate the area, and get a good idea of our community or home.  Up and coming will be 360° videos that will allow you to take a virtual reality tour of our most popular plans!  Check out one recent experiment in stills below, and be on the lookout for the videos soon!

Until Next Time,

Rebekah

Dog Days of Summer

This week we want to use the blog as an opportunity to bring you into our family.  As a family-owned company, our co-workers always feel like family even when we’re growing and building like there’s no tomorrow.

As the workers at the nearby BBQ joint can testify, food bonds us better than anything else.  As much as we all love BBQ, most would prefer a good pizza.  If either of those aren’t available, some good Tex-Mex is always appreciated.  However, some in our clan have interests in more exotic food such as Pho and Indian food.

If we can’t agree on food, we can all agree on how much we love our pets!  We love all animals large and small, and love owning some of them. Antares is home to both dog and cat lovers.  The most popular breed seems to be Dachshunds and Labrador Retrievers.

SadieMitsy Milo

(Above are Sadie, Mitsy, and Milo)

 

When it comes to our hobbies and passions, the Antares Family begins to differ more.  Some love to run and sing, others love to garden and read.  You’ll find almost any hobby withing the Antares Family, and that ultimately represents the reason we work so well as a team.  We love doing different things, but we all love Antares Homes.

 

Until Next Time,

Rebekah

Why Do We Use Vinyl Windows Instead of Aluminum?

Most folks are very surprised that a small homebuilder like Antares installs vinyl windows in every home.  Usually, you won’t find that feature unless you are in the price range of $300,000 and up in our local market.  A few years back, we made the change after extensively researching the benefits.

In the North Texas area we don’t have very much of a Winter and we fight the blistering heat every Summer.   Just imagine that you are sitting outside on a scorching hot day inTexas.   You touch two objects that have been sitting in the sun.  One is metal, the other is vinyl.   Which do you think will burn your hand?   Simply put, metal absorbs, retains and transfers heat. With aluminum windows, that heat ends up in your home. Limiting the amount of ‘thermal transfer’ through the home’s exterior is important to maximizing energy efficiency.

Science and Technology have brought so much innovation to what we can offer. Homeowners’ concerns for increased comfort and performance, along with the rising cost of energy makes this issue even more important.  Dual paned windows allow for “insulation” between two panes of glass which minimizes heat transfer.   This type of window is now used in 95% of all new homes built in the United States.   However, Antares has taken it a step further by using vinyl windows that have Low-E glass instead of aluminum windows.   The window companies determine the efficiency of windows by the measurement of the rate of heat transfer through a product (U-factor).   The lower the U-factor, the better the glass is at insulating a building.  In general, window ratings are from .25 to 1.25.  Our dual paned vinyl windows feature a LOW-E coating on our glass which has a U-factor of .32.  That’s more than the minimum you’d expect from a new home!  The coating on the glass has a slightly reflective tint that lets in light, yet gives privacy.

We’ve always known that people like to see the natural light inside their home, yet they still want energy efficiency.   We’ve never designed plans around small standard size windows.   You can see by the front facades of all of our plans that we build a better looking home than our competition.   We don’t try to “economize it” on the outside.   We put the right size windows on the home.  It’s just not okay to cut costs at the expense of the look of a home.  But don’t worry, using these oversized windows is not at the expense of your home’s energy efficiency!

Now, let’s move on to some really cool things about these vinyl-frame windows.

  • You NEVER have to paint them.
  • You can clean them from the inside of your home.   The windows have a tilt sash feature that is awesome.   If you are living in a 2 story home, this is a priceless feature.  Some builders charge thousands for this feature.
  • Vinyl windows are resistant to corrosion, chipping and rusting.  They don’t require maintenance
  • Vinyl windows are much greener.  Vinyl windows emit less gas in production than aluminum.
  • They provide lower utility bills
  • They add resale value to the home.   Ask anyTexasRealtor.  You will love that at resale time.

By using vinyl windows, Antares Homes has chosen to go above and beyond…..For you, our customers.

 

-Nancy Scott

Graduate Master Builder

I Want To Buy A New Home, But I Already Own One. Help!

Clutter Free for a Quick Sale!

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.

Focal Points

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. 

Kitchens

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. 

Paint

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.

 

You work hard for your money. Make it work for you. The best investment you can ever make.

Today’s Master Builder Musing is by Nancy Scott, VP of Sales and one of our newest team members to earn the Graduate Master Builder (GMB) designation.

A house is an asset that is built for folks and families to live in, enjoy and maintain.  It gives us a sense of who we are.  By making payments to a mortgage company instead of a landlord, the house becomes an asset.   The problem with combining that thought with housing is that our houses are not banks.  The real purpose of housing has nothing to do with cash-out refinancing. It is a place to call home, to raise a family, to enjoy Sunday ballgames, to decorate with your style, to park your car in, or to barbecue in the back yard with friends.

This year, the average renter in Tarrant County will be handed two rent increases.  Let’s face it, you have to pay to live somewhere.  If interest rates are low and rent increases are high, the true best investment is housing.   The required down payment when you buy a home is usually less than 3 and one half percent (sometimes as low as zero down), yet when housing prices rise, the investment value increases on the total price of the house.

Now it quickly makes sense.   Builders are now building on discounted lots.   The lots were discounted to the builders when the housing market declined. The builders now offer brand new homes at lower prices than they have been able to offer in decades.    Lower pricing combined with the new home warranty and energy efficiency really add up and just make good solid sense.  The discounted lot supply is limited, as developers cannot redeliver new lots with the same type of discounts.

Today’s interest rates are some of the lowest in the history of our country.  Today’s home prices are the lowest since the 1990’s.  These two combined make a huge difference in a payment.  Let’s compare the principle and interest payment.

For example, in June 2000, the average interest rate was 8.5%.  On a $150,000 home with a 8.5% interest rate the principle and interest payment was around $1124.  The total payment with taxes and insurance was $1672.00

The new builder pricing in August 2011 for a similar home as the above example is about $130,000 in the current marketplace.  The current interest rate is about 4% – the principal and interest payment is $628.   The total payment including all taxes and property insurance is around $1121.

Now let’s see how much you will have paid off after 15 years if you stay in your home.  With the 2000 pricing and rates, you would have paid down to a balance of $114,155.

With 2011 pricing and rates, you would have paid your home balance to $84,924 after 15 years.  Now imagine, if you paid extra each month, the amount that buyers actually paid in June 2000 and kept paying it for the 15 years-an extra $496 per month.  Where would you be?  Your house would be completely paid for and it would have been paid for in February 2024.  That means your home would be completely paid for in 13 ½ years.  This is the true way to wealth.  This is the true American dream.

Amazing, huh?  This doesn’t even show how much the “discounted home” will rise in value over the years. An apartment will never be paid off.  Renters just make someone else rich.

Do you really want to take this risk that interest rates and housing will stay low?  Or do you want the benefits that a home provides? 

Why Do We Have So Many Inspections?

When someone walks into my sales office, one of the things I am dying to tell people is that we conduct extra inspections on our homes during the construction process.  Most people just look at me blankly when I do my twirl and jazz hands at the end of delivering this precious message. 

Although the meaning of this is pretty insignificant to people who are not self-proclaimed construction nerds, I still feel this message needs a little bedazzling.  So I asked J Mason our COO who also happens to be another Graduate Master Builder (cue the jazz hands and twirling) working at Antares Homes to explain this better than I can.

“Each Antares home undergoes numerous and rigorous inspections conducted by four separate groups. The most familiar of these is of course the municipal building code compliance set of inspections. The International Building Code (together with local modifications) is enforced via multiple inspections at differing construction stages, to assure compliance with the hundreds (if not thousands) of requirements. In addition to these municipal inspections, each home also receives a ‘pre-pour’ foundation inspection, conducted by a Structural Foundation Engineer to insure that the slab is properly prepared prior to the placement of concrete.”

So, in addition to the city-mandated inspections we have a Structural Engineer give us the thumbs up before we pour!  Ta-Daa!

J also said, “Antares has also engaged a third-party firm as part of our Comfort Home program. These folks conduct inspections pre-drywall and prior to closing to verify the thermal integrity of the building envelope, the insulation installation and the performance of the air distribution system. These inspections are among the most exacting in the industry. Most builders would say ‘That’s enough!’ (or ‘That’s TOO much’). Antares, however has a third initiative, which is the driver behind an additional third-party inspection. We are committed to continuous improvement of our business, and of course construction practices are a primary focus. Simply put, we want to get it right the first time. We warrant our homes, and understand the risks associated with that, and know the best solution is correct construction.”

Well that can’t be said any better!  Continuous improvement is a cornerstone of the Antares philosophy. J goes on to say:

“A key requirement of any improvement initiative is an effective measurement system. For the past several years we have engaged Burgess Construction Consultants to conduct a thorough pre-drywall inspection on every home we build.  This inspection covers approximately 175 code and best-practice related items, and is primarily a data-based measurement system for each of our Trade Partners (you know, the guys who pour the slab, swing the hammers, install the mechanical systems, etc.). The results of each inspection are provided to the Construction Manager and the related Trade Partners, and corrective actions are taken as needed. The data is also compiled on a historical basis allowing us to measure performance on a per-Trade Partner basis. This recurring procedure has yielded significant results, with items needing correction declining to a level that outperforms the average of all DFW builders that are in the Burgess database. This additional inspection procedure is part of our ongoing commitment to provide the durable, high quality homes for which Antares is known.

And that my friends is why I get all dance-y when I start talking about EXTRA INSPECTIONS!

8 Reasons to Buy a New Home

If you’re like most first-time home buyers, you’ve probably listened to friends’, family’s and coworkers’ advice, many of whom are encouraging you to buy a home. However, you may still wonder if buying a home is the right thing to do. Relax. Having reservations is normal. The more you know about why you should buy a home, the less scary the entire process will appear to you. Here are eight good reasons why you should buy a new home.

Pride of Ownership

Pride of ownership is the number one reason why people yearn to own their home. It means you can paint the walls any color you desire, turn up the volume on your CD player, attach permanent fixtures and decorate your home according to your own taste. Home ownership gives you and your family a sense of stability and security. It’s making an investment in your future.

Appreciation

Although real estate moves in cycles, sometimes up, sometimes down, over the years, real estate has consistently appreciated. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight tracks the movements of single family home values across the country. Its Housing Price Index breaks down the changes by region and metropolitan area. Many people view their home investment as a hedge against inflation.  Texas is one of the states that lead the Nation here.

Mortgage Interest Deductions

Home ownership is a superb tax shelter and our tax rates favor homeowners. As long as your mortgage balance is smaller than the price of your home, mortgage interest is fully deductible on your tax return. Interest is the largest component of your mortgage payment.

Property Tax Deductions

IRS Publication 530 contains tax information for first-time home buyers.  Real estate property taxes paid for a first home and a vacation home are fully deductible for income tax purposes.

Capital Gain Exclusion

As long as you have lived in your home for two of the past five years, you can exclude up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a married couple of profit from capital gains. You do not have to buy a replacement home or move up. There is no age restriction, and the “over-55” rule does not apply. You can exclude the above thresholds from taxes every 24 months, which means you could sell every two years and pocket your profit–subject to limitation–free from taxation.

Preferential Tax Treatment

If you receive more profit than the allowable exclusion upon sale of your home, that profit will be considered a capital asset as long as you owned your home for more than one year. Capital assets receive preferential tax treatment.

Mortgage Reduction Builds Equity

Each month, part of your monthly payment is applied to the principal balance of your loan, which reduces your obligation. The way amortization works, the principal portion of your principal and interest payment increases slightly every month. It is lowest on your first payment and highest on your last payment. On average, each $100,000 of a mortgage will reduce in balance the first year by about $500 in principal, bringing that balance at the end of your first 12 months to $99,500.

Equity Loans

Consumers who carry credit card balances cannot deduct the interest paid, which can cost as much as 18% to 22%. Equity loan interest is often much less and it is deductible. For many home owners, it makes sense to pay off this kind of debt with a home equity loan. Consumers can borrow against a home’s equity for a variety of reasons such as home improvement, college, medical or starting a new business.

-Ron Formby

OWNING INSTEAD OF RENTING

My last reflection was about this being the best time to purchase a new home.  When you combine that and Rent VS Owning, it even gets better.  Look at this site and it is all you need to make the best case that owning a new home is much better than renting. 

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html

I have been saying owning is better than renting my entire working career, but now the New York Times has provided one of the best examples I have ever seen.  It is eye opening to see how much savings you can keep if you own instead of rent.  My favorite saying is “Renting is helping pay for someone else to Own what you are renting!”  Your apartment will never be paid off.  Why not take advantage of that today and start accumulating some savings and equity assets? 

There are many other Rent VS Own calculators on the internet and they all show the same results.  It has never been better to own than rent today.  At Antares Homes we have the best Sales Consultants in the market that can help you make the right choice for a new home and provide a lender that can help you obtain the financing needed to start saving instead of renting.

Could there be a better time to buy?

1100 Junegrass

In my 37 years of selling and building new homes, the answer to the question is absolutely now is the best time to buy. 

Why?  Let’s look at the reasons:

            1.  Lowest interest rates in history.  Never have interest rates for homes ever been this low.  They may never be this low again in our life time.

            2.  Lot prices are the lowest in 5 years.  After an 18 year increase in lot and home prices, now the prices for lots have come down below the cost to produce the lot.  When the market returns to normal, the price of lots will be twice the current cost.  Also, there are no new developments for lots due to lender not loaning money for development.  When the lots we have now are gone, it will increase the price of home dramatically if there are any lots to purchase. 

            3.  Profit margins on new homes are the lowest in 20 years.  Due to lower demand for housing since the tax credit expired, builders are offering homes at the lowest profit margins in 20 years.  It is a buyers market so take advantage of it.

            4.  Energy features in new homes are the highest ever.  This makes the total payments to own your new home the lowest ever.  Adding green energy features to our homes have made it easy to guarantee heating and cooling cost.

I have never seen the new home market this great for the buyer.  My advice would be to take advantage of this time and purchase a new home.

-Ron Formby