The Simmons Homes Blog

The Simmons Homes Blog

Smart home technology is getting smarter.

Categories: Lifestyle | Posted: April 21, 2017 | No Comments »

Do you have a good working relationship with your home? Is it doing more than providing comfortable shelter? With today’s advances in smart home technology, you can get much more.

Imagine waking up in the morning with your drapes opening automatically to let in the daylight. Meanwhile, the floor in your bathroom is warming up so you don’t experience the cold shock. Downstairs, the coffee is brewing, exactly to the strength you need. On a cold day, your car starts up and is toasty warm when you get in.

After you leave, you realize you left the lights on, so you send a message to your house to turn them off. While you’re at it, you ask your smart home to make sure all the doors are locked. The security system can also let you know if someone left the gate open to the pool. Floor sensors alert you when an elderly family member falls.

From work, you can check on the time your kids get home, and make sure they didn’t bring any surprise visitors. Your cleaning person has access to your home, only when you program it (and you can check on the actual arrival and departure).

Your thermostat automatically adjusts itself while you’re away, taking advantage of off-peak rates and more energy-efficient temperatures. You can alert your oven to turn on and pre-heat while you’re on the way home. And your refrigerator just sent you a text message that you need to stop for milk and eggs.

This is all possible with smart home technology. In addition to launching all these brilliant devices and systems, the manufacturers have realized that they need to work with each other for harmony. Until recently, managing the various smart systems in your home has been like juggling multiple remote controls, for your television, cable box, DVD player, and streaming video system.

Now, with hubs like Alexa and Google Home and apps that allow you to control multiple systems on your mobile device, you can truly enjoy the intelligence of your smart home.

2017 design trends for outdoor living spaces

Categories: Lifestyle | Posted: April 13, 2017 | No Comments »

For months, you’ve been looking outside, yearning for the days when you could relax, play, and entertain out there. With all this time to think about it, have you considered ways to improve or upgrade your outdoor living spaces?

New products have been introduced and we’re seeing a variety of 2017 design trends for outdoor living spaces. See if any of these decorating ideas sparks your desire to make some changes.

Outdoor kitchens are growing. The grill just isn’t enough for the person who likes to cook and entertain outdoors. The outdoor kitchen now incorporates a refrigerator, sink, warming drawer, smoker, beer tap, wine chiller, and maybe even a pizza oven or cooktop. Homeowners are installing cabinets that can withstand the weather, to complete this fun and functional space.

Outdoor fireplaces and fire pats sparked a frenzy. At the end of the day, relax in front of a crackling fire and indulge in gourmet s’mores. From simple to sophisticated, the scope of your fire feature can reflect any style. Create a hearth on your patio or build a fire pit that can be rustic, sleek, or anywhere in between.

Furnish it in style. With the passion for more stylish outdoor living spaces, you have more choices in outdoor furniture that’s durable, comfortable, and attractive. This year, expect to see natural materials—like wicker and rattan—in more vibrant colors than the traditional white. Accent pieces—like ottomans, side tables, and outdoor rugs—are showing up in every style imaginable. No matter what color palette you choose, you can find cushions and pillows to match.

Exterior lighting choices are broader and brighter. With new technology, you can add light outdoors, where you need. Solar lights can stick in the ground, hang from a tree, sit on a table, or be strung around, across, or above your spaces. Lanterns, lamps, and chandeliers allow you to create the style of indoor living outside the walls of your home. LED bulbs are also lighting the way for homeowners who want more light with less energy use.

Low maintenance is a high priority. Homeowner don’t want to spend long hours keeping their outdoor spaces looking good and staying safe. Stain-resistant concrete paving provides an easy-care surface that has become the preference over wood flooring outdoors—and the wide range of colors and patterns gives you the look you want.

Reduce lawn care by converting lawn to garden and planting perennials and sprawling ground cover. Some homeowners are also trending toward the use of synthetic grass and artificial turf, which have grown to appear far more realistic than the plastic grass you might recall.

With all the time you’ll be spending outdoors in the months ahead, isn’t it worth sprucing up your outdoor living space?

What’s in your dream kitchen?

Categories: Lifestyle | Posted: March 31, 2017 | No Comments »

Kitchens have evolved from the functional space of earlier generations to more creative and aesthetic areas. Thanks to today’s technology, storage options, and design details, the kitchen is grown exponentially in its functionality. With so many choices for flooring, countertops, cabinetry styles and materials, sinks, plumbing and lighting fixtures, there’s no end to what you can do with your kitchen design.

So, what’s in your dream kitchen?

From the food preparation perspective, plenty of counter space is essential. Whether those counters are made of natural stone, stainless steel, wood, or a combination, today’s homeowners want elbow room.

Under the counter, the dream kitchen should have drawers—deep ones, partitioned ones, and heated ones. Pulling out a drawer is preferred over opening a cabinet door. In fact, many of those cabinet doors are hiding pull-out drawers. In this dream world, there would be double drawers and divided drawers, so everything from a wooden spoon to a pot lid would be easily within reach, without the hassle of shuffling things around.

A top-notch kitchen would feature cabinetry that provided storage for everything, and in the color and style that blends with the rest of your home. A pull-out pantry cabinet, for example, would store canned goods and spices. Glass doors on upper cabinets would allow lighted displays of your nicest pieces.

With more and more foodies, kitchens need all the culinary wizardry. Today’s dream kitchen would include a commercial gas stove—possibly in a retro color—or a steam-assist oven or double oven, a third-rack dishwasher, fully appointed coffee bar, and a four-door refrigerator. In addition to the pull-down faucet, there would be a pot filler faucet by the stove to make it easy to fill large pots with water without leaving your cooking area. The must-have center island would include a second sink for prep work.

The lighting would combine style with function, to provide both ambience and task lighting, like under-cabinet lights.

Finally, this wonderful kitchen must include a restful place to sit and enjoy the sound of silence when everyone in your household is somewhere other than your kitchen. Whether you have an island with a breakfast bar or a sun-filled nook with perhaps a window bench, you could sit and take in the pleasure of this dream kitchen.

Buy or rent? Save 37.7% with the right choice.

Categories: Homebuying | Posted: March 23, 2017 | No Comments »

It’s the classic battle: Should I buy a home or keep renting?

If you’re leaning toward remaining a renter, consider this current statistic:

In the United States, buying a home averages 37.7% cheaper than renting.

Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy Report analyzed 100 metropolitan housing markets and compared the cost of owning a home over a seven-year period (with 20 percent down payment) to the bottom line for renting over that same time frame. In late 2016, the margin between the two choices actually widened a bit over the previous year’s average of 37.2% and reflected the widest gap since 2012, when buying averaged 40.7% less expensive than renting.

The cost comparison takes into account median home value and rent, including mortgage payments, maintenance, insurance, and taxes, plus one-time costs such as closing costs, down payment, sale proceeds, and security deposits.

Housing markets like Miami and Fort Lauderdale proved to homebuying to be a staggering 50% cheaper than renting. In Miami, for example, the median home price in the fall of 2016 was $259,527. A house rental averaged $2,000 per month.

Even in the markets where the margin was slimmer, the report showed that buying still held a significant advantage. Honolulu showed the smallest variation with a 17.4% savings for homebuyers over renters, followed by San Jose, CA, with 18.6%.

Home prices are rising at an average of 5.9%, with rents increasing at about 3.5%%. Low mortgage rates have enticed many renters to become homebuyers. Even with rising home prices, the value of homeownership presents a strong investment. According to the report, mortgage rates would have to make major gains—as much as 5% higher—to offset the homebuying advantage.

According to the Trulia report, “The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) has only raised rates once in the past 10 years, and prices would have to grow to their tipping [point] with little movement in rents—the latter of which hasn’t happened since the housing market recovery began in 2012.”

Need more convincing? Trulia’s Rent vs. Buy calculator to see a comparison with your specific parameters (e.g., housing market, rent, target home price, mortgage interest rate).

The path to new home ownership: Why appointments matter

Categories: Homebuying | Posted: March 16, 2017 | No Comments »

Appointments have become the norm—and with mobile technology, scheduling an appointment or reservation from your phone is easy. We are so accustomed to planning our days in advance that those businesses that accept walk-ins feel compelled to advertise it.

New home builders establish a model home as a sales center. Whenever it’s staffed, potential homebuyers can walk in and talk to an available sales consultant. Maybe you’re casually stopping in because you’re in the area. The associates are busy with other buyers, so you grab a brochure, a site map, a business card, and leave.

If you’re seriously following the path to new home ownership, you could make far better use of your time. Here’s why appointments matter to you and us.

  1. The focus is on you. As the demand for new homes continues to grow, our model homes and sales teams get busy, particularly on weekends. When you schedule time with us, we can dedicate that time and our full attention to you. Otherwise, with an impromptu visit, you might find that the staff is pulled in multiple directions, because there was no specific time set aside to provide you with information and answer your questions. With advance notice, your sales consultant can be fully prepared to make the most of your time by gathering the right materials that meet your homebuying needs and interests.
  2. You choose the best time. A planned visit allows you to select the time that best works for you. We accommodate appointments that are outside our sales center’s normal hours, because we respect that these times may not fit your busy schedule.
  3. Take the time you need. There are a lot of questions and considerations that go along with buying a new home. We’ll make sure there’s plenty of time to go through your list—and more. With a decision as important as choosing your next home, no one should rush you.
  4. Save yourself a trip. When you stop by on the off-chance that the model is open and someone is available, you might be disappointed, which means you’ll have to return another time.
  5. It’s so easy, there’s no reason not to. Our new home specialist is dedicated to helping you find the right home on the right lot in the right community.

Dream Home Tour – THIS WEEKEND!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 10, 2017 | No Comments »

Broken Arrow Dream Home Tour!
Explore our eight most popular floor plans and get an up-close look at the latest designer-selections and finishes. PLUS get inspired with hundreds of home decorating ideas in our fully furnished model homes. If you love that new home smell, or simply can’t get enough HGTV – this event is just for you!

The Dream Home Tour is THIS weekend from 1pm – 6pm Saturday and Sunday at all participating locations below (click a link below to get more details or driving directions):

The Villas at Spring Creek – Broken Arrow
6601 S. Elder Ave. | Archer | $230,150+
2511 W. Van Buren Circle | Winston | $260,770

Stone Horse – Broken Arrow
3509 W. El Dorado St. | Beckett | $201,950+

Willow Creek – Bixby
13148 S 93rd E Ave. | Bakersville | $274,150+
9116 E. 132nd St. S. | Sullivan | $275,709
9288 E. 132nd St. S. | Bailey | $270,685
9076 E. 132nd St. S. | Dawson | $255,538
13186 S. 92nd E. Ave. | Brookfield | $254,765

Mortgages 101: It’s not as scary as you think

Categories: Homebuying | Posted: March 9, 2017 | No Comments »

Financing a home can seem intimidating to the first-time homebuyer. If you’ve never applied for a mortgage before, don’t be afraid of the process. When you break it down and understand what is involved, you will be prepared to sail through the process!

Check your credit report.

First and foremost, review your credit report. Your credit score is a major factor in qualifying you for a mortgage and the amount you can borrow. A score of 720, for example, is excellent, and you can take your pick of lenders to secure the mortgage and terms you want (e.g., interest rate, no points). But even a lower score can be acceptable, depending on the lender and the mortgage program.

In addition to your credit score, review the entries on your credit report. It’s not unusual to find mistakes, which can be corrected with a letter to the credit reporting company (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian are the top three) or the business that reported the debt.

Late payments can also cause a problem when you’re seeking a mortgage. Try contacting those businesses to see what can be done to remove those “black marks”.

Collect your financial information.

You’ll need to prove your income, which requires two recent paycheck stubs and the last two years of income tax returns. You’ll also be asked for the past two months’ bank statements, so the lender can see how much is in your account as well as how you manage your funds. When you’re preparing to apply for a mortgage, spend a few months in advance ensuring you have reasonable cash flow without overdrafts.

If you receive any other income (e.g., alimony, commissions, investments), have the paperwork that documents it.

Research your loan options.

Mortgages come in all shapes and sizes—adjustable or fixed rate, 15 or 30 years. There are programs to assist first-time homebuyers. Veterans may qualify for a VA mortgage, a low-interest mortgage that requires no down payment. An FHA mortgage is a government-insured loan that requires a smaller down payment and accepts people with a less-than-stellar credit score.

Pre-qualify before you start your new home search.

Armed with the financial documents, you can contact lenders to be pre-approved for a mortgage. Your pre-approval letter will be submitted with your purchase and sale offer, showing the seller that you can actually purchase the home.

Builders usually have a preferred lender. There are many advantages to working with this lender if you are buying a new home or building one. In order to earn the “preferred” status from the homebuilder, the lender has proven himself as a resourceful professional who is committed to helping the buyer.

Don’t fear the mortgage process. It’s the pathway to homeownership!

14 questions to ask your homebuilder

Categories: Homebuying | Posted: March 2, 2017 | No Comments »

The process of progressing your custom home from vision to move-in should be an exciting experience. Choosing the right homebuilder is the first step toward ensuring your satisfaction. Here are 14 questions to ask your homebuilder before making this important choice.

  1. Will you build on my lot or do I need to purchase property from you? Some homebuilders focus on their own communities, while others will build elsewhere. Certainly, if you already have land in mind, you need a homebuilder who will build on your lot.
  2. Can I provide my own plans or do I need to choose one of yours? Some homebuilders stick with their own home designs because they’re “tried and true”. Others are comfortable working with quality home plans from another source (emphasis on “quality”).
  3. How many homes like the one I’m looking for have you built in this area? When a homebuilder is familiar with the geography, regulations, and challenges of building a home of a particular size and with certain features, you have the peace of mind that he is experienced with successfully navigating each one. That means timely construction without unanticipated overruns.
  4. Are you licensed and insured? Protect yourself by choosing a builder who can provide proof of insurance and a current builder’s license for the state where your home will be built.
  5. Do you offer a financing option? Is there a preferred lender you use? It can be convenient to use a homebuilder’s preferred lender, and they might offer better options than another lender. Before you decide on your homebuilder, determine your choices and whether or not you must use a preferred lender.
  6. What is standard in your homes and what is considered an upgrade? You need to determine what’s included in your price, so you’re comparing apples to apples with all of your homebuilders. Some standard features are options for other builders. Be clear about what you’re getting, particularly for those features that are important to you.
  7. Can I make changes after the construction has begun? It will cost more to make changes, and that price often goes up the farther along your home is in the building process. Discuss how your homebuilder handles changes so you know what to expect.
  8. What type of home warranty do you include? Appliances are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. The quality of the structure (workmanship, systems, materials) should be covered by the builder’s warranty. The builder will specify the time period, so ask how long they guarantee your home and how repairs are handled during this time.
  9. What energy-efficient features do you include? Today’s appliances, construction materials (windows, doors, insulation), and HVAC systems are geared toward energy efficiency. Ask each builder to explain the extent of their energy efficient commitment.
  10. Can you provide references from your homeowners, and can I tour a few of your homes? With any major purchase, you check reviews of past customers. Don’t be shy about asking for references. A reliable homebuilder will proudly share his successes.
  11. Who will be in charge of building my home? Can I meet this person? The contractor or project manager will become your close friend during the construction of your custom home. Learn that person’s experience and then talk to him before making your decision. Is he easy to work with and accessible? Does he understand and appreciate your concerns? How is communication handled?
  12. Is landscaping included in the price? If so, what exactly do you provide? Know whether you are getting a lawn, shrubs, and/or trees, and specifically which plants are included.
  13. How often can I tour the worksite? It’s your home, and you should be able to visit during construction, but showing up unannounced or too frequently can impede the progress. Determine the best process and schedule for arranging these tours.
  14. What is the estimated time to complete the homebuilding? When can you start? One builder might be able to complete your home in three months but has a backlog and can’t start soon enough to meet your deadline. Ask for realistic start and completion dates, and any factors that will impact them.

Interior design trends for 2017

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 23, 2017 | No Comments »

Spring is coming, and you might be thinking about some redecorating projects to refresh your home. Here are some interior design trends for 2017 to spark your creativity.

It’s trendy to be green. Pantone started the passion for green when it announced “Greenery” as its Color of the Year for 2017. Vibrant shades of green are showing up on walls, in carpets, bedding, linens, and accents.

In addition to the color green, the eco-friendly and natural materials are becoming even more popular. Look for more accessories made from bamboo—which is a highly sustainable plant—wood, cork, and recycled plastic accents. Jute, sisal, and hemp continue to be popular for rugs, for their durability, easy care, and natural look.

Marble is on the move. You can invest in the actual stone—for tabletops, backsplashes, and accessories—or simply go for the look of marble. Wallpaper, decorative boxes, placemats, and linens that are imprinted with the image of marbled veins brings a natural look to any room in your house.

Laundry room clean-up. The purely functional room is getting some decorating attention. Homeowners are adding custom cabinetry and replacing the old, old plastic utility sink with a more appealing stainless steel one and finishing with a vanity. Countertops, like granite and quartz, are also finding their way from the kitchen and bath into the laundry room.

Jewel tones shine. From the walls to the upholstery, the rich hues of jewel tones—amethyst purple, emerald green, sapphire blue, and garnet red—have become a popular design trend for 2017. If you don’t want to make a big change, add pillows, throws, candles, and decorative accents in these colors.

A cushy headrest. The upholstered headboard is the choice of many of today’s leading interior designers when it comes to bedroom décor. The shape, fabric, and color can be matched to any style—from sophisticated to kid-friendly.

In the raw. In keeping with the design trend toward a more natural look, interior décor will feature unfinished metals, like copper and unlacquered brass where the patina changes over time.

Above all, your home should be your personal signature. Your choices create a home that is your haven.

Are you ready to right-size your home and your life?

Categories: Lifestyle | Posted: February 16, 2017 | No Comments »

We’re hearing so much talk about “down-sizing” these days. People are finding ways to step back from quantity, and focus on quality. Simplify. Get rid of the excess. Live with less.

But is “down-sizing” really the right term? Maybe “right-sizing” is more accurate. Find the lifestyle that provides a better fit to your current priorities. Ten or twenty years ago, living in a suburb, for example, might have been the right choice, and the commute was worth it because your kids were in a great school district. Now, you might be yearning for a more walkable way of life. Conversely, your “right-size” lifestyle could include a stronger sense of community that comes with living in a non-urban neighborhood.

Are you ready to right-size your home and your life? Here are some clues that it’s time to consider that shift.

Your home feels cluttered.

Are you tired of navigating around the furnishings or spending too much time dusting all the items you’ve collected over the years? Is your closet overflowing with clothes you haven’t worn for a year or more? Has your attic or garage grown into a stash for things you really shouldn’t hold on to?

When the walls start closing in from the clutter, treat yourself to a good purge. Put sentiment aside. You don’t need all your kids’ homework papers and artwork. And just because that chair is comfortable, be honest—it’s an eyesore.

Donate usable items that have outlived their life in your home, but could be valuable to others. As you sort through what’s worth keeping, ask yourself, “Would I miss this?” When you’re truthful with yourself, you’ll discover you’ve been cluttering your life with things that have lost their meaning.

Your home feels larger than it used to.

Have you become tired of traipsing up and down the stairs? Do you have rooms that you’re not using regularly? Has it become more of a chore than a joy to maintain your yard?

It’s almost inevitable for a spacious home that was the right size for your life a few years ago to seem to grow as you reach a point when bigger isn’t better. Do you need extra bedrooms or that extra bathroom that is rarely used? You just might be ready to move to a right-sized home.

You want to lower your expenses.

When you’re in a home that doesn’t fit quite right, you’ll notice that certain household costs don’t feel right either. Your utility bill seems high for your current household. You might not feel that paying a monthly HOA is worthwhile now. Possibly, maintaining things like a pool aren’t delivering an appreciable return on investment. And you’re seeing the expense of costly replacements, like a new roof, furnace, air conditioning system, or other feature that is seeing the end of its life.

You’re more actively browsing home and interior designs.

You find yourself poking around HGTV, Pinterest, and home improvement shows, magazines, and websites for ideas to spark change—interior, exterior, or both. The fact that you’re straying this way shows you’re not satisfied with your home. Maybe you can make cosmetic changes, but ask yourself if that’s enough to fit your lifestyle in the years ahead.

Consider your needs today, not in the past. Determine what your right-size life and home would look like. Then take action to reshape it!