August 3 2018

Lennar Sets the Trend in Homes of the Future with Amazon Alexa

by Kelley

Amazon Alexa Lennar Homes

If you haven’t heard already, Lennar has partnered with Amazon to make Alexa standard in every new home. Each Lennar home will include built-in Wi-Fi, smart locks, doorbells, thermostats and lights – all controlled by the voice-activated assistant. This roll out comes shortly after the merge of Lennar and CalAtlantic, now making Lennar the largest homebuilder in the nation and more accessible to millions of homebuyers. Customers currently have the opportunity to experience the Alexa smart home environment with Amazon Experience Centers at select Lennar communities in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC with more markets to come.


While experiencing Alexa in a real home environment, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the benefits of using the digital assistant first hand. Features of Alexa include putting your home on auto-pilot with “good morning” and “good night” routines, ordering household essentials, scheduling home services, notifications for doorbells, entries, exits and more. Included in the flagship Amazon Experience Centers are the latest smart home products for lighting, locks, entertainment, sprinklers, shades, car chargers and so much more.


With Lennar being the first home builder to implement Amazon Alexa as a standard feature, it seems like a safe assumption that we’ll see a rise in demand for Alexa smart home solutions in new home communities across the country.  This may open a larger door for Amazon to dominate the market for digital voice-activated assistants and custom solutions for each market, in house training, education, marketing and installation make this partnership all the more appealing for home builders.


To experience an Amazon Experience Center, tour a Lennar home near you.

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July 26 2018

Becoming Mentally Prepared for Your First Home Purchase

by Kelley

Becoming Mentally Prepared for Your First Home Purchase

Now that you have a better understanding of Becoming Financially Prepared for Your First Home Purchase, it’s time to become mentally prepared because there is far more that goes into curating your dream home than money. The home itself may seem like the perfect option for you and your family but there are several other factors that need to be considered in order to make sure you’re making the right decision.


Create a Wish List


Having the money without knowing what you want in a home is pointless so it’s important to really think about what you want short term and long term. What type of home do you want? Can you see yourself in a condo, townhome, single-family home, new construction, or custom home? Considering the type of home first is very important because depending on your choice, you may be limited on options for the remainder of your wish list. Another important thing to consider is what you want to get out of your neighborhood. Some homebuyers prefer master-planned communities that come with a community designed specifically for the residents which includes amenities and other convenient perks. If you have children or are planning to have children in the future that will attend public school, making sure you’re in the right school district may also be a priority. After you’ve checked off all the tough decisions, have a little fun and make of list of design features you want in your home. Keep in mind that when searching you may not be able to accommodate everything on your wish list so figure out what you can’t live without in order to create a more realistic list.


Where Do You Want to Live and For How Long?


Buying a home can be a great long term investment but unless you’re flipping a resell home for a quick turnaround, it’s best to own the home until you start seeing substantial equity which can take time. This means either finding an area that you want to live in long term or being prepared to find renters to occupy your home so the cost does not solely fall on you. If you plan to stay in the area long term, do some research before choosing a neighborhood by attending community events or visiting restaurants and shops in the area. This will give you a feel for the locals and the tempo of the location. Also, consider commuting options if you have to travel for work. Considering the traffic if you have to take freeways, distance from the airport or lack of public transportation may be deal breakers so explore the options before making an offer.


Window Shop the Market


One of the best ways to understand the current real estate market is to understand what is out there. Browsing listings for sale in the area you want to move can help determine what you want in a home and it could give you some insight on where to get the best bang for your buck.  Take it a step further and tour open houses. The peak season for most areas is during the spring and summer months so finding multiple open houses near your area should be a breeze.


Find the Right Team


Once you’ve determined what you want in your home find a team of professional experts that can help guide you to locking down your perfect home. The home buying process can be overwhelming but finding the right real estate agent will make the experience much more enjoyable. In addition to a realtor, you’ll need a mortgage professional and depending on what type of home you want you’ll need to find a builder. Often times finding the right builder provides you with everything you need for a one-stop shop so be transparent with what you need. Ask and you shall receive!


Be Patient


Buying a home is extremely rewarding but it takes time. Be patient, trust the process and enjoy the journey to home!

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July 20 2018

Becoming Financially Prepared for Your First Home Purchase

by Kelley

How to Become Financially Prepared to Buy a Home

The home buying process is not for the faint of heart so before you press go, being financially prepared is a must. For first time buyers without proper instruction, the steps leading up to a home purchase can seem daunting and overwhelming so here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if you’re financially ready to purchase your first home.


Is Your Credit in Good Shape?


Having good credit is one of the most important factors when buying home. Your credit score helps to determine whether you’ll qualify for a home loan and the terms of that loan including your interest rate. It’s important to ask yourself this question first because building good credit takes time so if there are issues on your credit report it’s time to start fixing them now to ensure your score will be ready when you are.


Are You Financially Prepared to Apply for a Loan?


Being financially prepared to apply for a home loan has multiple parts.

There is the matter of being financially ready to payback a home loan which requires evaluating your debt to determine your DTI (Debt to Income Ratio). Your DTI will tell lenders if you can easily afford to make payments every month depending on how much income is remaining after you have made payments on your current debt.

Next, you’ll need to determine how much you can put aside for a down payment and closing cost. The amount of your down payment has the potential to affect your interest rate and may require you to pay for PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) until you’ve paid for a certain percentage of the home. Closing cost vary on a case by case basis so it’s best to have an extra amount saved and consult with a realtor for a more detailed estimate on how much you should be planning for.


Are You Financially Secure to Maintain Your Home?


Renters are used to paying rent, renter’s insurance and utilities but there’s much more to homeownership than paying the mortgage and home insurance. Again, depending on how much you present for your down payment, you may be required to pay for PMI each month in addition to the mortgage, property taxes, home insurance, and cost of any maintenance your home may require. The days of calling the property manager or owner to fix and replace things are over because the home is completely your responsibility. New homes come with a warranty that often cover problems that arise within the warranty period but as a homeowner, it’s best to financially plan to cover unplanned home expenses by maintaining a designated savings account.

In addition to unexpected home expenses, it’s a smart move to plan for unexpected life events. Securing an emergency fund with at least 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses can be the difference maker in staying afloat in the event of job loss, illness, or other unplanned circumstances.


As you can see, being financially prepared to buy a home takes time but with proper research, planning and discipline, you’ll be financially ready for your new home purchase in no time. Next week, look for Part 2 on Becoming Mentally Prepared for Your First Home Purchase.

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July 15 2018

July Realtor of the Month: Gary Scott

by Kelley

Gary Scott

If you’re in the market for a Southern Texas home then Home Team of America is your go to brokerage. With over 600 + agents, all with concentrated efforts in the Greater San Antonio real estate market, the Home Team makes up the largest non-franchised brokerage in the city. Among the San Antonio real estate agents that stand out is Gary Scott whose approach to success is firmly rooted in exceptional customer service. With service in areas throughout San Antonio, TX including New Braunfels and Fair Oaks Ranch, Gary and his team have helped hundreds of families find a place to call home.


As the New Homes Directory San Antonio, TX Real Estate Market Expert, Gary Scott has been reporting his insights on the market since April 2017. Gary shares that San Antonio, TX is currently one of the most popular cities to move to, second to Phoenix, AZ, and that now is the time to consider your move as the market continues to rise.


The Home Team of America partners with a variety of military-friendly agents many of which are active duty and veterans themselves. Gary Scott is a proud USAF veteran and we thank him for his service.

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July 13 2018

Protect Your Home From the Summer Heat with Phantom Screens

by Kelley

Phantom Screens Retractable Wall Screen

As temperatures rise for the summer months, everyone is looking for cost saving and energy efficient ways to stay cool inside of the house. Of course the obvious choice is to turn on the AC but what if you had a way to stay cool without running up your electricity bill? Adding shade to your home is a great place to start and Phantom Screens offers stylish and flexible solutions for protecting the interior and outdoor lounging areas of your home.


Phantom Screens offer retractable screens for doors, multi-panel systems, outdoor spaces and windows. Since their introduction in 1992, Phantom Screens has been the leader of the custom retractable screens industry expanding their reach across the United States as well as internationally. Now offering products in thousands of stores, Phantom Screens continues to evolve, with the customer in mind, by continuing to offer cutting edge and innovative designs.


Phantom Screens shaded options allow you to bring the outside in without the direct heat of the sun. With screens for almost every type of door and window including single, double-French, in-swing, out-swing and sliding patio doors there is a screen available for every type of entry.


With the rising demand for indoor-outdoor living, outdoor rooms are all the more prevalent in modern home design, especially in the California home market. Phantom Screens motorized wall screens allow you to experience the joys of indoor-outdoor living while remaining protected from the natural elements. Manual wall screens are also available for multi-panel systems like sliding, accordion and folding glass doors.


When you’re ready to enjoy your view without a veil, Phantom screens retract out of sight and fit your décor seamlessly. With multiple colors available including wood grain finishes, matching the trim of your home is as simple as choosing your favorite option.


Added features include mesh retention, custom mounting options and professional installation. Make the most of your summer experience and find a store near you.

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July 9 2018

Enjoy Your New Home Faster with 6 Ways to Ease Moving Challenges

by Kelley

Moving Tips

Now that you’ve completed your final walk through with the builder, it’s time to move into your brand new home. The adventure that awaits is exciting but the process of the actual move can keep you from enjoying this great accomplishment. We all wait in anticipation for the days when smart home technology offers an option for the home to pack itself but until that day here are a few tips that will help moving challenges seem a little less challenging.


1.    Pack One Room at a Time
Packing room by room is your best chance to stay organized throughout the moving process. Label where each box goes and pack them next to each other in the moving truck or car. Once you reach your new home, this allows for easy navigation of where everything goes so there won’t be a sea of boxes in the hallway for days.


2.    De-Clutter Before You Pack
Before you put anything into a box, take the opportunity to organize your things and finally get rid of all those items you’ve been meaning to donate for the past year. In each room, start three piles labeled “Keep”, “Donate” and “Toss”. This ultimately saves you time and money because you’ll have fewer items to load on a truck and less to unpack when you reach your destination.


3.    Prepare Your Home for the Move
Nothing dampers the appeal of enjoying a blemish-free home like moving damage so if possible, prep your floors by taping down heavy-duty paper on walkways and carpeted areas. This not only keeps your floor clean but also prevents scratches and scrapes on your floor and furniture.


4.    Move in the Big Items First
Have your new furniture delivered first or pack your existing furniture last. By placing the larger items where they go before anything else, you’ll have a better vision of the flow of the room which will allow the smaller items to be placed much easier. Also having your bed, dining table and couch readily available will offer a comfortable and familiar place to take a rest when you need it.


5.    Unpack the Kitchen Next
Unless you’re a superhero, you probably won’t want to cook your first night in the house but if you do have the desire make sure your kitchen is up and running. Packing and especially labeling a couple of boxes designated for kitchen essentials with items like everyday spices, cooking oil, cooking utensils, pots, pans and enough tableware for the family allows your kitchen to be ready for use when you are.


6.    Schedule a Play Date for the Kids and Pets
The chaos of moving can be stressful for young children and pets so call in a favor and let them hang with a family member or friend. You’ll get things done a lot faster without having to tend to the needs of the kids or worrying about the dog chasing after the movers trying to smell every item brought into the house.


Before you know it, you’ll be settled in and looking for ways to make your house a home. Until then remember to plan ahead by preparing for potential challenges and enjoy the process knowing there’s a beautiful home waiting for you on the other side.

Happy Moving!

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July 3 2018

The First All Glass Garage Door is Introduced at the 2018 Pacific Coast Builder Show

by Kelley

Wayne Dalton All Glass Garage Door

If you’re looking for a simple way to make your front elevation more modern and your landscape just isn’t cutting it, Wayne Dalton has an eye catching solution that will offer some major curb appeal to your home. The Model 8450 Luminous garage door is the first all-glass garage door on the market and is modeled after the appearance of a modern skyscraper. This sleek design is made up of glass panels that are constructed on an aluminum frame with no visible framework and comes in five finishes that are offered in translucent black, mirrored gray, mirrored bronze, opaque white and opaque black. The bottom vinyl seal of the door helps to prevent breakage and provides added protection against the elements and has also been tested to withstand extreme temperatures. In addition to great design and durability, The Model 8450 Luminous garage door offers the same great insulation as Wayne Dalton’s aluminum, steel, wood and vinyl doors which in turn provide energy efficiency and savings.


Upgrading your garage door is a great way to improve the visual appeal of your home but it’s also a great investment. Great curb appeal adds to the value of your home which could eventually allow you to receive a greater return on your investment. If you’re still not sold, The Wayne Dalton Garage Door Design Center is an interactive app that allows you to visualize what your home will look like after the installation. To find out more information on ordering the Model 8450 Luminous garage door, contact your local Wayne Dalton Dealer.

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June 22 2018

Why You Need The Brilliant Control for Operating Your Smart Home Products

by Kelley

The Brilliant Control

As smart homes continue to get smarter, so do the smart products that allow them to exist. Long gone are the days where homeowners have to stumble through the dark to turn on a light and just when we thought it couldn’t get any easier than controlling your lights from a mobile app, Brilliant has found a way to make this act simply effortless.


At the mere size of a smart phone screen, Brilliant Control replaces the space of an existing light switch and offers homeowners touch and voice access to adjust smart lighting throughout the home. The elegant panel offers a modern design and is available in multiple colors with four different switch configurations.


In addition to smart lighting, The Brilliant Control comes with Amazon Alexa built right in so homeowners can easily access climate systems, music, weather forecast and much more. Use the video intercom to call in between rooms or access a number of other smart home products with a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.


Installation is not only easy but cost effective because you don’t need costly custom wiring like many other smart home hubs. Homeowners can easily self-install The Brilliant Control in 5 to 10 minutes all for under $250.


With beautiful design, simplicity and affordable price all rolled into one package, it only makes sense to upgrade your smart home hub to The Brilliant Control. The pre-order campaign for this award-winning product as already sold out so sign up to be notified when you can order The Brilliant Control for your home at

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June 15 2018

Will Live-Work Spaces Become Standard in New Home Floor Plans?

by Kelley

Live Worrk Spaces in Orange County

With growing numbers in entrepreneurship and telecommuting, there has been a greater demand for high functioning live-work spaces.  Custom homeowners enjoy the luxury of curating the perfect home office and/or studio but now home builders are making live-work spaces standard in new home floorplans. Among the innovative is Intracorp Homes, who is now selling three-story detached homes with a designated work space on the main level. This Westside Costa Mesa, CA community, named The Place, is just minutes from the Newport Beach Pier making it an attractive location for young entrepreneurs and eclectic home buyers.


The first floor welcomes you into an approximately 11’ x 12’ work space that is illuminated by an abundance of natural light. The area is complete with a coat closet and powder room making it the all-around ideal location for client meetings or collaborative sessions. On the opposite wall of the front entry is a door that leads to the direct-access 2-car garage and a staircase leads up to the second floor with a full chef’s kitchen, dining, living room, 2nd powder room and deck. The entire third level is designated to the bedrooms, laundry and full baths which creates complete privacy from the work and entertaining spaces.


Could we be seeing more work spaces offered as a standard for homes in the near future? There seems to be many advantages to this luxury like saving money on gas and commuting cost, a more flexible schedule and greater tax deductions. With a greater demand for a home office, it definitely seems like live-work spaces could very well be the next big home trend.

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June 14 2018

June Realtor of the Month : DJ Arsenault

by Kelley

DJ Arsenault

If you’re in the market for a North Houston home, contact DJ Arsenault and the team at Diamond Homes Realty. As the Premier Listing Agent, DJ Arsenault leads the team with his values of high level customer service. DJ has been in the industry since 2002 and has continued to “eat, sleep, and breathe” real estate in order to stay ahead of the game on the best trends and techniques for top results. Against the common tactic of over pricing a home on the listing, DJ and his team take a different route to ensure more money in their clients’ pockets and less time on the market. In addition to buying and selling, DJ also educates his clients on how to make strong financial investments and shares some of his insights on how to be a successful homeowner and financially free on the Diamond Homes Realty Blog.


Diamond Homes Realty Super Truck

Diamond Homes Realty prides themselves on being involved in the community and can be seen around The Woodlands, Spring, Magnolia and Conroe in the Diamond Homes Realty 6 Door Custom Super Truck. You won’t be able to miss it so if you spot the truck around town, share a picture on Facebook and #Diamond Homes for your chance to win a gift.

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