8 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Cooler Temperatures

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A big house during the winter

Winter is among us and the coldest months are yet to come, so be sure your home is prepared for the cooler temperatures!

Winter is upon us and even if your home is in a more tropical climate, the months ahead still hold some cool nights. Some places are already being affected by winter storms Cleon and Dion. Even with a new home, there are important preparations to ensure your family’s winter is the best it can be. Here are some tips for prepping your home for whatever this winter may hold for you.

Interior
  • Winter is the perfect time to rearrange your furniture, even if you have only been in your home a few months. The change will help your home and life feel fresh and bright, even if the sky is filled with dark, grey snow clouds. Consider implementing some cozier seating arrangements, with chairs pushed a bit closer together for more intimate moments and conversations.
  • It is important to regularly test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Batteries can run down and systems can malfunction without warning. Therefore, it is crucial to your family’s safety that you take a moment before the stress of the holidays to make sure your home is ready in the event of a fire or gas leak.
  • Make an appointment with a heating professional to have dust and debris blown out of your heating system. Also, make sure you have plenty of air filters for the months ahead. Even a newer furnace cannot run efficiently if the filter is clogged.
  • Keep your thermostat on 68 degrees or even lower to cut the costs of energy bills. Particularly in areas with warmer climates, there is no need to overrun the furnace and run up costs. Simply throw an extra blanket or two in your bedroom closet for more chilly nights. You can also consider switching to flannel or fleece sheets for the season.
Exterior
  • If temperatures drop below freezing where you live, make sure you have all garden hoses disconnected and put away for the season. This will protect water from freezing inside the hose and cracking. Also, place a cover over the hose to prevent freezing and breakage in your pipes.
  • If you are finished with your landscaping tools for the season, coat each piece with some lubricant to make sure they are ready when you go to use them in the spring.
  • If you live in an area where it snows, be certain any snow removal equipment is working properly. Test snow pushers and blowers and make sure shovels are not rusty, bent, or broken.
  • To keep your lawn looking lush and healthy, a winter fertilizer application is a great idea. These fertilizers help strengthen the roots of your grass, and will make your spring lawn green and gorgeous.

Decorating Your New Home, Inside and Out

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Even if your home is not in an area experiencing a heavy dose of white, fluffy snow so close to Christmas, there are still many creative options for decorating for the season; in a style fitting to you and your home. Home owners in Arizona and Texas may want to decorate with a bit of a southwestern flare, decking your halls with howling wolves and red hot chili peppers.

Assorted Christmas decors

Christmas is finally here. For your new homes, you can use different Christmas decors to accentuate your homes.

Bright shades of red and green are the perfect way to light up the desert just in time for the holiday season. Wrap your home with beautiful, rich velvety ribbons and bows, bringing joy and seasonal pizazz to your delightful desert residence. Some home owners may wish to add precious natural details, particularly in rich geologically interesting areas, such as those surrounding Phoenix, Tucson, or San Antonio. The naturally occurring browns and reds blend well with seasonal colors, making your home even more of a masterpiece to enjoy with family and friends.

If you happen to own some beautiful Navajo or other southwestern-style pottery painted red or green, even though they may not be actual “Christmas decorations,” they provide the homey, warmness of the southwest and make the perfect way to serve holiday treats to your guests. Native American rugs can also provide another way to maximize your usage of already owned wares and offer a nice alternative to the same old store bought tree skirts you always use.

For those residing in the Atlanta area, perhaps your decorating style is more “down home” or traditional. White lights are the perfect way to add a touch of yesterday and elegance to your bright new home. They go well with most decorations and make everything look clean and nostalgic. Pair with them some large tree branches, evergreen trim, and wreaths of twigs and holly berries for inviting country Christmas décor. Burlap and plain ribbons in reds and greens are great additions to make a new home feel warm and old fashioned.

Should Christmas find you in your new Florida home, your decorating sense may sway toward a more tropical side. In this case, add starfish, coral, and sea shells to your list of ideas for an airy, refreshing Christmas on the beach. Many people love the lighted palm tree sculptures often found on bar patios and these make the perfect addition to possible decorations for your front or back yard.

To carry the beach inside, fill clear glass bowls and even ornaments with sand and sea shells, then add starfish to your Christmas tree. Drape white lights around to show off the natural beach-like feel or go all out for the rainbow-colored party lights and crank up the carols with your family and friends.

No matter where your new home is, you deserve to enjoy it in sensational, seasonal style. Hopefully, these suggestions will boost your creativity and have your home in winter wonderland mode in no time at all!

The Best Christmas Gifts for Your New Home

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Couple Exchanging Gifts at Christmas

If you’re shopping for decorative items for your new home this Christmas, take a moment to read over our suggestions separated by room below!

Whether this is the first Christmas in your new home or not, the holiday is the perfect time and excuse to splurge a little for yourself and your home. Below you will find some great gift ideas for both inside and out of your new home.

For the Kitchen
  • Why go out when you have the perfect place to enjoy the company of others? Invite over family and friends for a little beer tasting in your new home with a Beer Tasting Glass Set from RedEnvelope.com. This features 8 different glasses and is on sale now for only $39.95. – Buy it here
  • Spice up any meal with an Italian Spice Stack from Dean & Deluca, priced just right at only $16. – Buy it here
For Any Room
  • Light up 2014 with the gift of these Year of Wishes candles, featured at RedEnvelope.com for the sale price of $71.96. You will receive 12 different candles, all wrapped in their own box and placed in their own glass votive cups, with an encouraging word silkscreened across each one. – Buy it here
  • RedEnvelope.com also offers Polygon Glass Terrariums to allow you to momentarily escape to another world of lush gardens and landscaping on a small scale. These popular gifts are on sale now for only $79.95. – Buy it here
  • Show off your favorite photos to family and friends with a Photo Clip Mobile, available from The Guggenheim Store online for only $15. – Buy it here
For the Living Room/Family Room
  • Wrap up on the chilly nights ahead in a Luxury Plush Throw from RestorationHardware.com, available in 7 different colors, and starting at only $39 each. – Buy it here
  • Celebrate the passing of time in your new home with a set of Four Seasons Glass Globes, beautifully designed with trees in each season, from UncommonGoods.com for only $45. – Buy it here
For the Bathroom
  • Prepare your bathroom for holiday guests with a 4-piece Tree Bath Coordinate Set from Target.com. This set features a lotion pump, soap dish, tumbler, and toothbrush holder, all with a rich brown tree painted on the side. This set is on sale for Christmas for only $34.99. – Buy it here
  • Hang up the matching Tree Shower Curtain, also from Target.com, for $34.99 (Chocolate curtain) or $39.99 (White and Brown set) with shower hooks. – Buy it here or Buy it here
For the Front Porch/Patio/Yard
  • Warm your hands around a River Rock Tabletop Fire Bowl from RestorationHardware.com for only $59. – Buy it here
  • If baseball is your passion, slide in to home plate as you cross the threshold of your home with a Home Plate Welcome Mat from UncommonGoods.com for only $22. – Buy it here
For the Garage
  • Every new homeowner needs some basic tools and Home Depot has the perfect gift for you! Their HDX Homeowner’s 22-piece Tool Set is on sale now for only $9.88. – Buy it here
  • If you need a place to store your new tools, check out the Husky 16-inch Tool Box with metal latch for only $6.97, also from Home Depot. – Buy it here

Know Your Neighborhood: Pinewood Forest

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Here at LGI Homes, we take pride in not only the quality and affordability of our homes, but also in the locations we select for building each of our communities. Each location is chosen with you in mind, and we take care to ensure our neighborhoods provide convenient access to some of the best restaurants, parks and attractions around. As part of our “Know Your Neighborhood” series, we’re showcasing some of these locations to help you become better acquainted with the area around you. Today, we’re highlighting some of the best local attractions and businesses near our brand new Pinewood Forest community in the Woodlands, Texas.

golf course

The beautiful neighborhood of Pinewood forest features many amenities like golf courses, lakes, malls and many more.

Pure Healthy Eatery
4223 Research Forest Dr #350
The Woodlands, TX
(281) 203-5650

http://www.liveandeatpure.com/

Looking for a delicious way to make healthy eating choices a part of your family’s routine? Check out Pure Healthy Eatery, a restaurant located just minutes from the Pinewood Forest neighborhood. Pure Healthy Eatery specializes in organic fare, and serves up fresh breakfast, lunch and dinners to residents of the Woodlands. They even offer a happy hour for their organic, nutrient-packed smoothies every Wednesday! Try one of their delicious wraps and salads, or if you’re in the mood for something a bit heartier, try the grilled bison burger or turkey meatball parmigiana.

Hubbel and Hudson Market
4526 Research Forest Dr
The Woodlands, TX
(281) 203-5650

http://www.hubbellandhudson.com/kitchen.html

Located just a short mile from Pinewood Forest, Hubbel and Hudson Kitchen is a unique, upscale grocery market that offers customers a new spin on the classic grocery shopping experience. Hubbel and Hudson is a fully-stocked food market, and also has over 300 varieties of beer and wine in stock. Their dine-in or take-out spot makes it easy to pick up a quick meal to take home for the kids, or splurge in style at their 65-item salad bar. If you’re looking to add some new recipes to your repertoire, there’s also a cooking school on-site!

The Woodlands Children’s Museum
4775 W Panther Creek Dr
The Woodlands, TX
(281) 465-0955

http://www.woodlandschildrensmuseum.org

On the hunt for a fun – and educational – place to take the kids during summer break or on a weekend? Check out the Woodlands Children’s Museum! This family-friendly attraction is sure to please kids of all ages, and you’ll love knowing they’re gaining knowledge while having fun! The museum has tons of fun, educational programs and attractions to inspire your child’s desire to learn just moments from home.

Woodlands Country Club
100 Grand Fairway, Spring, TX
(281) 863-1440

http://www.thewoodlandscc.com/

Golf enthusiasts will love the close proximity Pinewood Forest provides to multiple gold and country clubs, including the Woodlands Country Club just a few miles up the road. The club features three championship courses designed by golf legends like Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. Additionally, there’s a tennis facility, a swimming pool, a kiddie pool and a fitness center on-site.

Lake Conroe
West Fork of San Jacinto River in Montgomery and Walker Counties

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/recreational/lakes/conroe/

A short drive from Pinewood Forest you’ll find countless ways to indulge in some outdoor fun at Lake Conroe. From swimming and boating to fishing and camping, Lake Conroe has a little bit of something for everyone. Plan a family day trip to relax by the lake or get away from it all for a few days by booking a campsite.

Miscellaneous

You don’t have to travel far from Pinewood Forest to find all of the shopping and dining opportunities you could ever need. There’s a Randall’s, a Kroger, an H-E-B and a Trader Joe’s within minutes of the community, making grocery shopping a breeze. Bargain hunters will love the nearby Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Goodwill and Plato’s Closet conveniently located nearby.

LGI Homes: A Great Place for Retirees!

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If you’re looking for a place to settle down and enjoy your golden years after retiring, you might be tempted to ditch your mortgage and rent. Many retirees worry that a mortgage payment won’t be feasible once their 401ks and Social Security replace regular paychecks, but in fact, buying is actually much more affordable than renting! According to Forbes, it’s cheaper to purchase a home in all 100 major metropolitan markets than it is to rent! But affordability isn’t the only reason to consider purchasing a home to retire in. Continuing to own a home offers a wide variety of advantages to retirees, especially if you’re considering buying from LGI Homes. While we’ve established a reputation for helping first-time homebuyers’ dreams come true, our customers and communities are extremely diverse, and we offer the perfect deal and house for everyone. Check out these reasons our neighborhoods are perfect for retirees!

retirement savings

Retirees who invest in buying new homes save more money rather than those who rent.

Affordable Prices – At LGI Homes, we strive to make homebuying affordable for everyone, and this includes retirees! We offer our buyers far more for far less than our competitors, and you can own your very own LGI Homes’ home for as little as $749 per month! And did we mention we offer a no money down financing option for qualified buyers?

A+ Amenities – We’re confident that you’ll find a million reasons to fall in love with our homes – primarily because we include over $10,000 in upgrades in every single house at no extra cost to buyers! If you’ve always dreamed of a house with custom cabinets, granite countertops, state-of-the-art appliances, raised six-panel doors and brushed nickel hardware and fixtures, now’s the time! And our amenities don’t stop when you reach your front door. We include countless community amenities for our residents to enjoy as well. Get in your morning cardio on our walking trails or stay in shape at the neighborhood pool. And when your grandkids come to visit, treat them to a picnic at the community park!

Diverse Layouts – Each of our neighborhoods offers buyers multiple floorplan options to choose from, including single-level options if you’re worried about navigating stairs. Our homes also feature rounded corners for added safety.

Temperate Climates – Retirees love our neighborhoods because they’re located in some of the most temperate areas of the country! In fact, Phoenix, Tampa and Orlando are three of the most popular cities for retirees in the nation – though retiring in Texas or Georgia is a treat too! Our locations allow you to enjoy mild winters with minimal chance of snow and ice – as well as their related hazards.

An Investment You Can Pass On – Some retirees are reluctant to purchase homes so late in life. However, it’s important to remember that our homes are investments that can stay in your family for generations to come! Unlike retirement communities, we have no age limits or regulations for our residents, meaning your family can move in at any time. If your children need a place to stay, or you want live-in assistance from your grandchildren, you’ll never have to ask for our permission before moving your loved ones into your home.

Mortgage Rates on the Rise: Buy Now or Risk Paying More Later

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If you’ve been holding off on buying a home, now may be the right time to take the plunge. Otherwise, you risk paying far more for the same house in the future, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Since May, industry experts and market watchers have noticed a continuous upward trend for interest rates on mortgages. Each month, rates have steadily been rising. While interest rates have been rising at a slow, steady rate, the increases add up over time. For example, average rates in May were 3.59% on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. By the end of August, average rates had climbed to 4.73% according to Forbes. That may not look like much of a difference on paper, but in practice, that translates to a 15% increase in monthly payments for homeowners. If rates continue to climb at this rate, next year’s homebuyers could pay 30% more every month on their mortgages than those who took out their mortgages earlier this year while rates were low. In order to secure the best deal possible on your mortgage, it’s wise to start shopping for a home – and a lender – sooner rather than later.

Mortgage interest rates increasing

The rising mortgage interest rates that we’re seeing now can be the future trend.

However, it’s important that you don’t become discouraged as you see mortgage rates rise. Forbes reports that buying a home is still 35% cheaper than renting in all 100 of the major metropolitan areas across the country – despite the increase in interest. While waiting to buy could cost you more on your monthly payments, you’ll still be paying less than you would in rent – and investing in a property you’ll own forever, something renting doesn’t offer.

And remember, if you’re a first-time buyer or meet other qualifications, you can always finance your home with a mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA. When market watchers report on increasing interest rates, this applies primarily to mortgages given out by private lenders.

Of course, homebuying can be a daunting process. You may worry about securing a down payment, getting your credit into shape, finding a home that fits your budget, and deciphering real estate lingo overwhelming. Fortunately, we’re here to help! We offer a wide variety of resources to make homebuying a breeze for our customers, including credit counseling, no money down financing for qualified buyers, a wide variety of floorplans to choose from in four states, and a comprehensive guide for first-time homebuyers.

5 Mortgage Mistakes First-Time Buyers Make

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As a first-time home buyer, it’s natural to be confused, and perhaps even overwhelmed, by the home buying process. While finding your first home can be a daunting task in itself, finding the perfect mortgage to finance your purchase can be even harder. Some lenders try to take advantage of the naiveté of first-time buyers, and many new homeowners end up falling into predatory lending traps with sky-high interest rates and payments to match. At LGI Homes, we firmly believe that homebuying should be attainable for everyone, and our home prices clearly reflect our commitment to affordability. However, our prices aren’t the only way we try to save our buyers money – we also make it a priority to educate our customers about the homebuying process to ensure they obtain the best deal possible. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the most common mortgage mistakes made by first-time homebuyers so you can avoid making them yourself.

Not Understanding Mortgage Types and Terms – While mortgages are similar to auto loans, student loans and other types of loans, they shouldn’t be treated the same. Your mortgage is probably the largest chunk of debt you will ever acquire in your lifetime, and it’s essential that you fully understand what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line. Spend time browsing real estate websites (including ours!) and learn as much as you possibly can about common real estate terminology and mortgage terms. Learn the difference between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages and figure out which type is best for you. Research how the length of your mortgage can affect your monthly payments and calculate how much you can realistically afford to pay. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to meet with potential lenders and the better you’ll understand the terms they offer you on a loan. Being well-versed in terms and types will also prevent you from getting scammed or taken advantage of by a predatory lender.

Home owners figuring out how to bring down their mortgage costs

It is important for first time home-buyers to understand the terms of their mortgage.

Overlooking or Ignoring Interest Rate Changes – Many first-time buyers make the mistake of thinking that today’s mortgage rates are guaranteed to be the same tomorrow. Unfortunately, interest rates often fluctuate throughout the week – and sometimes even throughout a single day. To avoid missing the mark and getting stuck with a higher rate, U.S. News recommends that buyers watch the market closely and pay attention to when rates change each day. According to U.S. News, rates tend to change at the same time every day, and knowing the right moment to start negotiating with lenders is imperative for obtaining a great rate.

Not Shopping Around – You may be tempted to give your bank or credit union a call and immediately apply for a mortgage through them because you have experience working together. However, your bank isn’t guaranteed to offer the best rates available. Spend plenty of time shopping for and comparing lenders to see how they stack up against your financial institution of choice – and against each other. You may find that another bank can save you big in the interest department over financing through the same institution you save your money with.

Failing to Negotiate – According to U.S. News, 34% of home buyers don’t realize that mortgage rates aren’t necessarily set in stone and that they have the ability to negotiate with potential lenders. Instead of whipping out your pen and immediately agreeing to whatever interest rate your lender offers, see if you can talk them down. If you’ve done your homework and shopped around, tell the lender you’ve looked at other companies and have been offered a better deal elsewhere that you’re tempted to take. The lender might not budge, but you may be pleasantly surprised and receive a great counteroffer from potential lenders to help you save.

Misunderstanding How Mortgage Points Work – According to U.S. News, nearly 50% of homebuyers don’t understand how mortgage points work. 45% of buyers polled in a survey by Zillow believed that mortgage points should always be purchased with a mortgage so a lower interest rate can be obtained later. However, this isn’t always best for everyone. If you plan to settle down in your new home until your mortgage is paid off, it’s certainly a good idea, but if you only plan to stick around for a few years, it can actually cost more to purchase discount points than you’ll save.

Stewart’s Forest is Almost Sold Out!

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If you’ve had your eye on our Woodlands-based community, Stewart’s Forest, now is your last chance to call this charming community “home.” That’s right, Stewart’s Forest is filling up fast and we’re almost entirely sold out!

Stewart’s Forest is a picturesque neighborhood filled with award-winning homes, and all we’re missing is you! The community is perfectly located away from the traffic and noise of the big city while still providing residents convenient access to some of the best shopping, dining, recreation and entertainment opportunities around! From The Woodlands Mall and Lake Conroe to Candy Cane Park and the Woodlands Country Club, you’ll find something for the entire family to enjoy just minutes from your front door. And for commuters, Stewart’s Forest is an easy drive to almost anywhere in the North Houston area!

Homes in Stewart's Forest Almost Sold out

New homes at the Luxurious Stewart’s Forest are almost sold out. The primary selling points new home owners point out are the prime location, affordable costs and the innovative designs of their new homes.

New homes at the Luxurious Stewart’s Forest are almost sold out. The primary selling points new home owners point out are the prime location, affordable costs and the innovative designs of their new homes. [/caption]The community features all of the things that make LGI Homes’ so great. We’ve included over $15,000 in upgrades inside every home in the neighborhood – at no extra cost to buyers! Some of the luxurious, state-of-the-art amenities and features you’ll enjoy in your new home include quality appliances, custom cabinets, granite countertops, raised six-panel doors, rounded corners, brushed nickel hardware and fixtures and vaulted ceilings, to name a few. Additionally, you’ll love having a fully-fenced backyard for its added privacy and the space it gives your children and pets to play. Every home in the neighborhood comes complete with a two-car garage and a utility room, so you’ll never hurt for extra storage space in your brand new home!

But there’s more! Stewart’s Forest isn’t just a neighborhood – it’s a master planned community! What does that mean for you? Access to exclusive, top-notch community amenities is just steps from your home. Stewart’s Forest contains a family park perfect for picnicking with the kids, as well as a community pool to keep you nice and cool in the Texas heat. Children will love exploring the neighborhood playground, and nature lovers and athletes will love trekking around the greenbelt areas and walking trails housed within the community.

Stewart’s Forest is truly the best deal you’ll find in the area, and with our affordable prices, owning a brand new home of your own will cost you less than renting in the Woodlands. Additionally, we offer no money down financing for buyers, so lack of a down payment doesn’t have to stand between you and the home of your dreams. We have a variety of resources to help you throughout your homebuying journey, and we’ll be here to offer our assistance every step of the way! Our remaining homes will be gone before you know it, so don’t let this once in a lifetime opportunity pass you by! Give us a call today!