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The Arosa at Lost Plantation

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Imagine a place where time and space suddenly become your ally. A place where there’s a surprising amount of room for everything you want in a home and a lifestyle. That place is The Arosa at Lost Plantation.

Lost Plantation is a distinctive, established neighborhood that just keeps adding new homes every year. It’s a place where you feel a genuine sense of belonging. And where each new day is an opportunity to reach out and take life further than you ever imagined.

Everyone loves a beautiful golf course, even if you’ve never picked up a putter or driver in your life. The large expanses of manicured fairways and rolling greens around every bend in the road make everyone stop a minute and gaze.

Imagine if you could live in such a place and have an expansive home site for that home of your dreams? All brick. A 3-car garage. Deep lawns that ensure the privacy you crave. And set back in a quiet enclave encircled by tall Georgia pines that add an ambiance to your home’s setting. You’ll find it in The Arosa.

The home sites in Arosa are designed for the discriminating homebuyer. At least 100 feet wide and up to 200 feet deep, some are as much as an acre in size. Every home built in The Arosa must be all brick with a side-entry garage. With home sites this wide, you’ll enjoy the side-entry garages that are part of the covenants.

Come visit Lost Plantation today and let our New Home Consultant, Sonya Lowry, show you all the amenities you’ll enjoy in Lost Plantation. It’s truly a playground for the entire family. Then select the perfect home site in Arosa before someone else chooses it first. Arosa just opened this summer so you’ll have the opportunity to select the perfect oriented site for your home. Speaking of homes, we have a new collection of plans with homes from 2,500 to 3,400 square feet that will help you make that dream home a reality.

At least a third of the home sites are on the golf course, so if you love to have a serene fairway view with your morning coffee, these will be the ones to look at first. Another third are heavily wooded, so you can select which trees to keep to add to your landscaping plan. All of the sites are spacious so you can put in a large swimming pool or design an outdoor entertaining space however you desire. And again, there’s plenty of room for that third car garage from your wish list!

If you hurry, you’ll have the luxury of first choice of Arosa homesites. You won’t be envious later on of not having the perfect spot. Why not get started today?  (912) 826-5321

Success Out of Adversity!

In the summer of 2008, Lamar Smith took an unimaginable step at the height of the real estate crisis. He started a homebuilding company.

Lamar (left) and Jeff Kramer are a formidable homebuilding team.

Most of his friends and colleagues privately wondered about his sanity. But inside every good businessperson, and especially a builder, lives an optimist.

A well-respected and successful land developer, residential and commercial, Lamar Smith Signature Development and local homebuilders had teamed up over the past decade to create some of the most “in-demand” places to live and do business in the Greater Savannah area. It was an exciting time. But that came to an abrupt halt by late 2007.  Lamar realized that local homebuilders were hurting and his commercial customers as well, leaving him with the prospect of reinventing his professional life. He had the land, but could he transition from a developer to a builder – and do it while an economic tsunami washed builders out of the business right and left?

He took the plunge in July 2008 when he formed Lamar Smith Signature Homes and broke ground in The Retreat at Rice Creek near Port Wentworth. Following quickly was his expansion into Lost Plantation in Effingham County. In their first year, they built and sold 48 homes and became widely known as the “Home of the Mini-Mansion.” He quickly picked up awards from the Home Builders Association of Greater Savannah for “Homebuilder of the Year,” “Best Master Suite,” and runner up for “Best Home Value.” And the future is brighter still!

From 2009 thru 2010, the economy bumped along and then stagnated. Most builders were just trying to survive. Again, Lamar Smith Signature Homes saw opportunity when other builders were throwing in the towel. With a keen sense that homebuyers will bring the market back through pent-up demand, Lamar had quietly put together a top-notch team, including his most important decision:  Bringing Jeff Kramer on as president to head up and manage the homebuilding company so Lamar could focus on expansion and securing sound financial relationships with local banks.

A custom kitchen in Parkside at Rice Hope.

Jeff’s first move was to raise the bar on quality and expand our library of home plans to meet the demand for single level homes, master suites on the main floor, and aesthetically-attractive exteriors. While he ratcheted up the quality and plan offerings, Lamar focused on finding new communities that were stressed and had been sitting in limbo but that also had great potential. He knew that the key was finding the right locations, whether that is for schools or proximity to shopping or to a job or church or amenities in the neighborhood.

In 2011, Lamar chose three new areas to expand – Teal Lake on the Southside of Savannah, Covington Pointe near Brunswick, and two places near Hinesville/Fort Stewart, Timberlands and Mill Pond.

Although the housing market is not strong yet, Lamar Smith keeps all the elements in play – a vision, risk tolerance, a strong financial foundation, and an exceptional team. It’s the summer of 2012 now, and we look back to see how a weak market was the impetus behind our growth as a top homebuilder in Coastal Georgia.

If you are in the midst of your homebuying search, we invite you to look at one of our new home communities located close to where you need to live. Our New Home Counselors are a great resource on not only finding the perfect home, but also in helping you arrange financing or any other need you might have in buying or building a brand new home.

3 Ways to Mess Up a Mortgage Closing

HIGHLIGHTS

1.  Lenders have gotten stricter in response to the mortgage meltdown.
2.  If you want to implode your impending mortgage, get a new credit card or auto loan.
3.  Changing jobs is another good way to derail a mortgage before closing.

Want a lender to delay or even cancel your mortgage closing? Then change your “borrower circumstances” between the day you apply for and the day you close a home loan.

Lenders have gotten stricter in response to the mortgage meltdown. The latest tightening of the screws comes from Fannie Mae. The mortgage titan’s Loan Quality Initiative, which went into effect June 1, requires lenders to track “changes in borrower circumstances” between application and closing.

The rules aren’t new, but Fannie will enforce them more vigorously. For borrowers, it means certain actions are likely to delay or otherwise mess up a mortgage closing.

“Any change in circumstance could affect and delay a borrower’s closing on a transaction,” says David Adamo, CEO of Luxury Mortgage of Stamford, Conn.

Following are three things borrowers can do to mess up their next mortgage closing.

Get a new credit card or auto loan

If you want to implode your impending mortgage, get a new credit card or auto loan.

Lenders have long admonished mortgage applicants to avoid getting new credit cards and auto loans while home loans are in underwriting. Fannie’s Loan Quality Initiative adds urgency to this request.

For example, picture a borrower who gets a car loan a week before closing on the mortgage. The mortgage lender doesn’t know about it. Later, the borrower misses a couple of mortgage payments.

Fannie Mae can look back, discover the undisclosed auto loan and make the lender buy back the bad mortgage. That’s a money loser for the lender.

So at the eleventh hour, most lenders check credit for new accounts.

Even merely opening an account — without charging anything to it — can be a mistake.

Retailers often offer discounts to customers who apply for store credit, Adamo says. “That is something that most consumers will take advantage of, and even something as benign as that could affect a borrower’s ability to close on a mortgage approval.”

Charge up credit cards

Charging up credit cards with thousands of dollars’ worth of appliances, tools and yard equipment is another surefire way to muck up a closing. It’s best to leave those cards alone.

“Don’t increase your credit card balances at all. Consider paying cash for everything,” says Dan Green, a mortgage planner for Waterstone Mortgage in Cincinnati.

Mortgage approval is based partly on debt-to-income ratio. The lender looks at the borrower’s minimum monthly debt payments and compares them to income. If the ratio of debt payments to income is too high, the borrower could be turned down for a mortgage.

Fannie encourages mortgage lenders to recalculate debt-to-income ratios just before closing. If a spending spree sends the debt-to-income ratio too high, the mortgage could be doomed. For this reason, borrowers should wait until after closing the mortgage before buying furniture, a refrigerator or a lawn mower on credit.

Change jobs

Changing jobs is another good way to derail a mortgage before closing. Other potential deal-breakers include staying with a current employer, but switching from a salaried position to one where primary income comes from commissions or bonuses.

“Because the rules about any job change, especially if you go to commission or bonus, usually you need a two-year history,” says Bob Walters, chief economist for Quicken Loans. “So if all of a sudden you switch from W-2 to some other kind of compensation, and you don’t have the history, a lot of times that income can’t be included. So all of a sudden you’ll find maybe you don’t qualify.”

Read more: 3 ways to mess up a mortgage closing http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/3-ways-to-mess-up-a-home-mortgage-closing.aspx#ixzz1xdafCBK8

Covington Pointe Grand Opening Bicycle Winners!

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Our Grand Opening Weekend at Covington Pointe near Brunswick, Ga., was a “grand” success capped off by the Giveaway of 8 Brand New Bicycles!

These lucky winners heard their names called in our drawings for these shiny new bikes at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 10th.

Happy Bike Trails to All!

Disaster Resilient Building Code Task Force Public Forum

Kenny King Speaks to Disaster Resilient Building Code Task Force Forum.

NEWS FROM THE HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION OF GEORGIA

On May 30, 2012, Kenny King, builder member from the Greater Atlanta area, spoke to the Disaster Resilient Building Code Task Force Public Forum.

Others in attendance at the Public Forum on behalf of the Home Builders Association of Georgia were Kelly Lass, Executive Vice President and Bettie Sleeth, HBAG Regulatory Affairs Consultant.

(At Right) Mr. Lamar Smith from Savannah with Lamar Smith Signature Group (seated front left) and Mr. Tim Thornton from Macon with Thornton Realty (seated front right) are members of the task force representing the Builders and Realtors.

GRAND OPENING WEEKEND @ Covington Pointe

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GRAND OPENING WEEKEND!

If you are looking for a home near Brunswick and the Golden Isles, come out to our GRAND OPENING at Covington Pointe new home community this weekend, June 9 & 10th.  Saturday 12-5 PM and Sunday 1-4 PM.

You can tour beautifully staged new homes and enjoy free food & drinks.

The kids can take pony rides and work off their energy in our Bounce House! And, we are giving away 8 FREE BICYCLES and all you have to do is register when you visit. A variety of small toddler bikes up to adult bikes will be on display for you to register to win! Drawing will be at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Don’t miss this fun time for every member of the family. We’ll have consultants on hand to answer questions and a mortgage loan expert to give you up to date information about the different mortgage loans available today.

Come on out this weekend! For directions, go to the community of Covington Pointe web page on this website for a Google map! See you there!

7 Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New Home

Pitfall #1: Setting yourself up for high energy bills

A new home built today is required by law to meet stricter energy codes than homes built in the past when energy codes didn’t exist or were much more lenient. Lamar Smith Signature Homes uses materials that are designed to exceed the strict limits to produce future savings for the owner. These savings can often be hundreds of dollars per year. Low “E” glass, Radiant Barriers, Poly‐foam around all windows, doors, and along ceiling and corner joints and an engineered 14 seer Amana Air Conditioning unit are all available or standard with Lamar Smith Signature Homes making our homes extremely energy efficient. Additionally, our use of 30 “R” blown fiberglass insulation in all flat ceilings and 13 “R” batts fiberglass insulation in exterior walls keep energy costs to a minimum. We also use ridge vents on roofs because they are the best venting system for residential homes. We use air hawks to assist venting when ridge vents are not as efficient.

Pitfall #2: Financing your home through a lender who works slowly and charges high fees

By using one of our preferred lenders, you will not only benefit from their expertise and their familiarity with the neighborhoods in which we build, but we will help to pay some of your closing costs. This makes the process less expensive and easier for the new home owner. The loan/closing process is greatly simplified because of this close relationship. Both offices are staffed with exceptionally qualified personnel who are in touch with the market and are able to offer the best available mortgage plan for your needs.

Pitfall #3: Buying a home that’s constructed with inferior materials

Lamar Smith Signature Homes consistently upgrades the building materials used in an effort to offer our customers the latest and best materials on the market. Code requirements are a measure of minimum acceptable construction techniques and materials. Lamar Smith Signature Homes strives to exceed those requirements.

Pitfall #4: Settling for no appliances or sub-standard appliances

Appliance manufacturers introduce new models every year and homebuilders like Lamar Smith are able to offer the latest state‐of‐the‐art equipment at the time of completing a new home. And, because the homebuilder buys for his entire production of new homes, his purchasing power can reduce the cost to the buyer. Lamar Smith Signature Homes offers one of the best appliance packages on the market.

Pitfall #5: Buying a home now that will lead to high maintenance bills later

A primary benefit of owning a Lamar Smith Signature Home is that they are low maintenance. New technology has made the homes of today virtually maintenance free, especially on the exterior. For example, no longer does the homeowner have to worry about painting every 3‐5 years. Along with the many code inspections performed by city municipalities and others, Lamar Smith Signature Homes performs several self‐imposed inspection of all aspects of the construction process to ensure that the homes are being built to our standards and that future maintenance issues will be kept to a minimum.

Pitfall #6: Inheriting the prior owner’s bad tastes

With a new home, it’s possible for the buyer to be the designer before moving in. You choose the carpet, wall coverings, paint color, light fixtures, window treatments, floor coverings, crown molding, and more. This enables you to live with your personal selections instead of being restricted by the tastes of the previous owner.

Pitfall #7: Failing to get a warranty or getting a warranty from an unreliable source

Lamar Smith Signature Home buyers are assured at least a one year warranty on the home itself and most likely five years on major appliances including air conditioning and heating systems. Lamar Smith Signature Homes extends structural warranties to a full ten years, underwritten by 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty. We are local and always available to address customers’ warranty questions. Our construction managers are all highly‐experienced builders. It is unlikely that you will have warranty issues due to that experience. However, if you do, Lamar Smith Signature Homes has the reputation of rapid response to customers’ needs and concerns.

Bonus Pitfall: Purchasing a home with sloppy finishing

Finish work is one of the most important parts of the building process. Poor quality craftsmanship in the finish process makes the home look cheap and exposes obvious faults in the construction. We ensure that your home has a professional touch by properly finishing all walls, corners, window reveals, countertops, cabinets, trim, and moldings.

Houzz! As in Decorating Your New House

by Karen Powell, Marketing Consultant

I have to admit, I love to watch HGTV for design and decorating ideas. I also buy those niche magazines filled with tips and pictures of what I could create if I just had the energy and the nerve to try. But this weekend, I came across a real nugget. Houzz!

That’s a funky way to spell houses.

With more than 350,000 photos and 140,000 product recommendations, Houzz is a titan among design and home improvement websites, and it’s also available as a mobile app. All of this material is searchable by keyword or phrase, so just type in “pressed tin ceiling” and scroll through hundreds of images. But the site’s most compelling feature may be the ability for users to register for a Houzz account and create themed “idea books” through bookmarking and uploading photos. There are some 2 million idea books to explore and comment on, and more than 1 million home improvement professionals participate through uploading photos and sharing expertise.

So, now that you have built or purchased that brand new home you’ve dreamed about, why not start dreaming all over again of projects that will turn your new home into your true dream home?  Check it out!

Subtle Shifts Mark Savannah Home Sales Market in April

By Adam Van Brimmer
Appeared on SavannahNow.com (Savannah Morning News), May 12, 2012

http://savannahnow.com/exchange/2012-05-12/subtle-shifts-mark-home-sales-market-april#.T8D5OFLJCF8

The signs of Savannah’s residential real estate recovery won’t be of the flashing, neon-light variety, Realtors and other industry insiders say.

The subtle indicators of a mending market continued to emerge in April, according to Savannah Multi-List Corp. statistics. Inventory fell for the 10th time in the last 11 months. Sales beat April 2011’s performance by nearly 10 percent. And investors extended their frenzy by again snapping up approximately 100 properties, many of them bank owned or in the foreclosure process.

The numbers that caught many a Realtor’s eye involved activity in Savannah’s most desirable areas.

• Skidaway Island saw an influx of retirees as markets in the Northeast and Midwest improve. April marked the gated community’s second best month for sales since the housing slump started.

• The islands — Wilmington, Whitemarsh, Oatland, Isle of Hope and Tybee — regained the momentum enjoyed last summer. The 36 sales are the most since last August.

• West Chatham saw a significant bump in the wake of the announced attendance zones for the new westside high school at New Hampstead.

The market is shifting in some areas, such as the islands and Ardsley Park, as evidenced by a loss of buyer power, Realtors say.

“Buyers playing the kind of hardball they’ve been able to for the last few years are now learning the hard way they are not the only buyers out there anymore,” said Sandy McCloud with Century 21 Fox Properties. “Play too much hardball on Tybee or Wilmington or in Ardsley or at The Landings — places where you aren’t competing with builders — and you lose property.”

Demand is building in underdeveloped areas like West Chatham as well. The months’ supply of inventory in that area, which includes Pooler, hit nine months in April, meaning at the current sales pace all the inventory would be bought up in nine months time. Anything less than eight months is considered undersupplied.

The builders are responding. Fifty lots sold in the West Chatham area in 2012’s first four months; 60 sold all of last year. And south of Pooler near the Bryan County line, builder Lamar Smith has started a new subdivision called Teal Lake, with six homes under construction.

“We certainly are optimistic based on what we’re seeing,” said David Hagan,” Lamar Smith Signature Group’s director of sales and marketing.

When Location Matters – TEAL LAKE

When homebuyers start their home hunt, they often spend hours pouring over pictures of homes and studying their floor plans. Today, they mostly do this online in the privacy of their current homes. But once their search gets real where they set out in the car to see the homes they have selected, it quickly becomes apparent to them that location is much more important than the home itself. Why? Because location determines their overall quality of life.

Location determines how much time they will spend commuting to their jobs. It determines how much time they spend running to the grocery store or going out to dinner. It determines the quality of the school their children will attend. It determines how safe they feel in their new neighborhood. It determines the possible resale value their home would retain. So after all of these realities settle upon them, they go back to their online searching and look for communities that meet all of these requirements. Only then do they start looking at the available homes in their newly chosen neighborhood.

So, these novice new homebuyers have learned why experienced homebuyers say: it’s LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

At Lamar Smith Signature Homes, we choose where we will build our new homes after a careful study of where our homebuyers will want to live. As one of Savannah’s most experienced residential developers over the past 20 years, Lamar Smith has a long track record of developing successful new home communities. His latest new home community in the Savannah area is Teal Lake, and his decision to build in Teal Lake was based on LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.

Teal Lake is situated on Savannah’s southside where it is commuter-friendly to most Savannahians and our military families. Just south of the Abercorn Extension/Hwy 204 off Highway 17 just past the popular WalMart shopping and dining area, Teal Lake offers a scenic, secluded setting yet easy access to I-95, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air Base, and both of Savannah’s major malls. Richmond Hill is 10 minutes south on Hwy 17. You’ll love the pool complex and lake within the community and King’s Ferry Landing on the Ogeechee River just 5 minutes from your door.  When time with your family is precious, you’ll discover that living in Teal Lake is the perfect answer to that all-important quality of LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.

Tall Ships Arrive in Savannah

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One of the beautiful perks of living around Savannah are the coastal activities – and one you never want to miss is when the Tall Ships come to visit!

This weekend the Tall Ships sailed up the Savannah River and whether you view them from River Street in Historic Downtown Savannah or from the high-rising Talmadge Bridge crossing over into South Carolina, it’s a sight to behold. So if you’re thinking of moving to Savannah, this is one more thing to add to your “pro” list!

Lamar Smith, our CEO & Builder, was meeting with Leadership Georgia in downtown Savannah and snapped this photo on Saturday, May 5th.

Top 10 Features Home Buyers Want

What can our friends from up North teach us about what home buyers want?

Plenty, it turns out. It’s clear the preferences of Canadian home buyers closely match those of American home buyers.

The nationally-recognized designers from Rooms in Bloom shared their experience in a recent blog post. As the 2012 Home Staging firm in Canada, they should know. These expert interior designers devote a big portion of their firm’s work to helping real estate professionals and home builders “stage” or decorate homes that are currently for sale. Like many top interior designers, Heather Cook and Alana Merrit of Rooms in Bloom find the challenge of staying one step ahead of the latest trends while staging homes for sale to be of great value in all of their interior design work.

As you search for a home, look for these trends. You’ll find today’s new homes deliver on the features home buyers like you want most. And when you’ve found your new dream home, keep these ideas in mind as you feather your new nest.

Let’s take a look at how today’s new homes compare to re-sale homes in delivering:

THE TOP 10 FEATURES HOME BUYERS WANT

1.  Open Concept Homes — New homes offer spacious, flowing floor plans, and high ceilings that older homes don’t provide.

2.  Smaller Homes — It’s important to consider what it will cost to heat, cool and maintain your home. The wide array of new homes make it easy to find the size just right for you.

3.  Outdoor Living Spaces — True in Canada and even more so in the many temperate areas of the U.S.

4.  Neutral Decor — Probably best for selling a home, but as a new home buyer, don’t be afraid to display your true colors.

5.  Modern Kitchens — The heart of every home and where new homes shine with the latest & greatest design, cabinets, countertops, lighting and appliances.

6.  Smart Growth — Many of today’s Master-Planned new home communities offer Community Clubhouses and Pools, protected nature areas, hiking trails, playgrounds and more.

7.  Going Green — Hands down, new homes win here, too.

8.  Linen Closets & Smart Storage Options — New homes take the win in this category, too.  Simply compare the far larger walk-in closets of today’s new homes with the cramped closest of old homes.

9.  Energy-Efficient Fixtures & Appliances — Our new vs. resale home comparison is turning into a rout! Today’s new homes feature enormous energy efficiency in appliances and throughout. A typical new home of today is much more energy efficient than a home built just five years ago. And a new home compared to a 10-20 year old home? Game over!

10.  Double Car Garage with Organized Work/Storage Space — You’d be hard-pressed to find a new home that doesn’t score a “10” on our Criteria #10. And, in many cases, three-car garages or greater are available with storage space to make the man of the house grow weak in the knees.

It’s looking like a landslide win for new homes vs. used houses in delivering the features home buyers want. The odds are good that a new home is your best bet to realize your dream home. And while you may plan to stay for many years in your next home, it’s also clear your new home will be much more likely to meet a buyer’s needs (should you ever wish to sell it) compared to a used home that’s already out of date today.

To Get Ahead, Use Your Head

Sometimes a good article comes along that you just want to share. Such is the case today. Below is one written by Harvey Mackay, an associate one of the world’s great wordsmiths, the late Jim Rohn. One of Rohn’s best known quotes:  Success is what you attract by the person you become.”  Well, enjoy Harvey’s article below, and come see us soon at any of our new home communities!

“To Get Ahead, Use Your Head” by Harvey Mackay

I’m the last person in the world who would tell you not to work hard. I’m also the first one to remind you that working hard must also be tempered by working smart, or you might just be wasting a load of effort. There is a reason why we were born with both muscles and brains.

Consider the story of two lumberjacks in a tree-cutting contest. Both were strong and determined, hoping to win the prize. But one was hardworking and ambitious, chopping down every tree in his path at the fastest pace possible, while the other appeared to be a little more laid back, methodically felling trees and pacing himself. The go-getter worked all day, skipping his lunch break, expecting that his superior effort would be rewarded. His opponent, however, took an hour-long lunch and then resumed his steady pace. In the end, the eager beaver was dismayed to lose to his “lazier” competition. Thinking he deserved to win after his hard work, he finally approached his opponent and said, “I just don’t understand. I worked longer and harder than you, and went hungry to get ahead. You took a break, and yet you still won. It just doesn’t seem fair. Where did I go wrong?” The winner responded, “While I was taking my lunch break, I was sharpening my ax.”

Hard work will always pay off; smart work will pay better. Remember back in college, there were the kids who studied all day and all night, but still struggled to pass exams? Then there were the kids who studied hard but also found time for a game of cards or basketball, and still aced every test. Both groups studied the same material, attended the same lectures taught by the same professors, and took the same test. Was the second group just that much more brilliant? Maybe, but my money’s on the way they approached their material and learned how to study. If they were smart, they applied those same principles after graduation: work hard, but work smart.

That’s a lesson that can be learned by even young children. A little girl visiting a watermelon farm asked the farmer how much a large watermelon cost. “Three dollars,” he told her. “But I only have thirty cents,” the little girl said. The farmer looked around his field, and feeling sorry for the little girl, pointed at a small watermelon and said, “That one’s thirty cents.” “Oh good,” she replied as she paid him, “Just leave it on the vine and I’ll be back in a month to get it.”

Call it creativity, call it ingenuity, call it whatever: I call it using your head. Knowing how to analyze a situation and how to execute an action plan will put you ahead of the game in the long run. There’s nothing wrong with having a leg up on your competition—it’s how you win. The combination of hard work and smart work is the formula for success. Think about what needs to be done, and then think again about the best way to accomplish it—not necessarily the way you’ve always done it, or the fastest way, and certainly not the hardest way. Never make work harder than it has to be. That’s just a colossal waste of time.

Perhaps the ingenuity award goes to the fellow who came to the Canadian border on his motorcycle, carrying two saddlebags strapped across his seat. The border guards asked the obvious question, “What’s in your saddlebags?” “Rocks,” was the reply. So the guards emptied the bags to check out his story. Sure enough, all they found were rocks. So they sent him on his way. The next week, the same fellow came to the crossing, again on a motorcycle, again with the same payload. The guards checked once again, and found more rocks. Off he went. The scene repeated itself weekly for several months, until finally the guards couldn’t stand it any longer. “We know you are smuggling something across the border, but every time we inspect your saddlebags we find only rocks. Please tell us what you are up to, and we promise not to turn you in.”

“Well,” the fellow replied, “It’s really very simple. I’m smuggling stolen motorcycles.”

Mackay’s Moral:  It’s good to work hard. It’s great to work smart. But it’s best to work hard and smart.

Don't Forget Your Pre-Approval Letter

Here are five reasons why getting a pre-approval letter is a good idea.

Most home buyers know they should get a mortgage pre-approval letter from a lender before they begin seriously shopping for a home. But the reasons for this advice aren’t always clear, and buyers sometimes are dismayed by the amount of paperwork involved. Here is some of the reasoning behind the advice:

1. A pre-approval letter is more reliable than a pre-qualification letter.  Getting a pre-qualification letter is easy. You just call a mortgage broker or lender, provide some basic financial information, then wait a few minutes for the letter to come through your fax machine. Getting a “pre-qual” from a Web site is just as easy. Enter some information, click “submit” and voilà.  On the other hand, a pre-approval letter involves verification of the information. Rather than taking your word on faith, the lender will ask for documentation to confirm your employment, the source of your down payment, and other aspects of your financial circumstances. Granted, a pre-approval is more time-consuming (and possibly more stressful) than a pre-qualification.  The additional due diligence is exactly why the pre-approval carries more weight.

2. You’ll know how much money you can qualify to borrow.  Most home buyers have a rough idea of how much they would feel comfortable paying every month on their mortgage. However, there’s no quick way to translate that monthly payment into a specific maximum mortgage amount because other factors — down payment percentage, mortgage insurance, property taxes, adjustable interest rates and so on — are part of the calculation. And, you might not be qualified to borrow as much as you think you should be able to borrow, depending on your income, your debts, and your credit history.

3. You’ll have more leverage in negotiations with the seller.  Sellers of resale homes often prefer to negotiate with pre-approved buyers because the sellers know such buyers are financially qualified to obtain the financing they need to close the transaction. Builders won’t feel comfortable going out on a limb and building a home for you if you don’t have a pre-approval letter. A pre-approval letter is an especially favorable point in a close, multiple-offer situation. And, you might feel more confident about making an offer with a pre-approval letter in hand and the knowledge that you’ll be able to obtain a mortgage.

4. Your real estate agent will work harder on your behalf.  A pre-approval letter signals to your real estate agent that you’re a well-qualified buyer who is serious about purchasing a home. The increased likelihood of a closed sale — and a commission — will naturally motivate your agent to devote more time and energy to you. In fact, some agents won’t even show property to buyers who don’t have a pre-approval letter. At the builder’s sales centers, our on-site new home consultants will be happy to show you any of our homes or spend some time with you to discuss the pros and cons to buying one of our available new homes or building a new home from one of our custom plans. But, you will still need a pre-approval letter before the builder will break ground on your new home or within 5 days of our accepting your offer on an available new home.

5. A few caveats: Pre-approval letters aren’t binding on the lender, are subject to an appraisal of the home you want to purchase, and are time-sensitive. If your financial situation changes (e.g., you lose your job, lease a car, or run up credit-card bills), interest rates rise, or a specified expiration date passes then the lender will review your situation and recalculate your maximum mortgage amount accordingly.

Foreclosed Home vs Brand New Home

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Why do the benefits of a new home far outweigh a foreclosed home? Read on to find out. . .

1.  Many foreclosures are sold “as is” with no inspection and no disclosure requirements that could require major hidden repair bills.

2.  Peace of mind. Brand new homes are under warranty and can be personalized with appliances, cabinets, countertops, carpets, floor coverings and other personal preferences to meet individual needs and tastes.

3.  Newly-built homes are highly energy-efficient, saving the buyer money and helping the environment.

4.  New homes come equipped with the latest home automation and wiring components that provide state-of-the-art hi-tech capabilities and home entertainment resources.

5.  Financing a new home is much easier than financing a foreclosed home. Many builders offer incentives to reduce closing costs, unlike banks that are seeking to get foreclosed homes off their books.

Buyers must calculate the true cost of purchasing a foreclosed home and getting it into move-in ready condition.

Estimate legal fees and repair costs based on price per square foot on foreclosed houses of various sizes and conditions in nearby areas. After you compute the final cost of what it will take to fix up that foreclosed home, compare that figure with brand new Lamar Smith Signature homes that are located nearby and sell in a similar price range.

As a buyer, you must discover all the hidden add-on costs involved in purchasing a foreclosed home and decide whether the initial cheaper sales price is actually a good value.

The true cost of a foreclosure home may give you sticker shock!

Have you considered the repair estimates on:

Appliances

Exterior Paint

Foundation

Interior Paint

Carpet/Flooring

Drywall

Cabinets

Countertops

Plumbing

Electrical

Windows

Termites

HVAC

Mold Removal

Roof

Interior Cleaning

Get legal fee estimates on:

Is home currently occupied? What about possible eviction fees?

Does home have clear title?

Does home have any outstanding liens?

Once you have checked into and collected estimates for any repairs or legal fees that would be required to get the home into the same condition as our new homes or at least into the condition that you would accept as “move-in ready,” then compare to the cost of buying or building a brand new home at Lamar Smith Signature Homes. We think you may be surprised at the money you’d save and the home you’d have without all of the headaches of a foreclosed home.

Dream, Build, Live — Beyond the Ordinary

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Spring is definitely in the air, and everyone’s thoughts turn to getting outside and fixing up those things around the house that bugged you all winter — that’s when you start thinking about “should we wait any longer?”

Of course, what you’re really thinking about is “should we wait any longer to buy that new home?”

Instead of constantly fixing things in a home that has seen its best years or trying to fix the landscaping that suffers from weary-looking bushes and scraggly lawns — why not start with a new, energy-efficient home that is designed just the way your family wants to live? And a yard with fresh new sod and a clean palette waiting for your creative touch? You keep reading about the low-interest rates and prices — unlike anytime in maybe the past 50 years to buy a home! Now, you’re afraid this special time may be passing you by.

As the economy is showing signs of life again, you know this incredible opportunity to own a brand new home with more luxury than you dreamed won’t last forever. So, after you’ve finished mowing the lawn and planting a few flowers to do what you can for your old place, why not sit down and take a good look at our new floor plans and all of the communities where we are building at Lamar Smith Signature Homes?

From a gorgeous, golf community like Lost Plantation in Effingham County, whose school system is the envy of the region, all the way down to Covington Pointe in Glynn County, which is the gateway to the Golden Isles of St. Simons and Jekyll Islands — we have 7 communities all along the I-95 corridor in the price range most families desire, the $120’s to the low $200’s.

Our Preferred Lenders can help you figure out the best mortgage program to fit your particular circumstance, and our New Home Consultants will listen to your list of wants and needs in a new home and help you uncover a host of floor plans to consider. Now that’s what springtime really means — a time to start anew and dream.

At Lamar Smith Signature Homes, we help you “dream, build, live…beyond the ordinary!”

How to Care for Your Laminate Floors

Did you choose, or plan to choose, beautiful laminate floors for your new home? We thought perhaps a good reminder of how to care for your laminate floors would be helpful because a flooring upgrade is a major investment.

Laminate floors are among the easiest to keep clean and, with proper care, their beauty will endure for decades. The tips below are intended to help you care for and prevent damage to your laminate floor.

Don’t Damp Mop–Water and wood floors don’t mix!. Use only the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning products, such as Bona Kemi hard-surface cleaner on your hardwood. Wood floors require a relative humidity similar to your personal comfort levels to limit cracking and swelling over time. Limiting excessive heat and moisture will ensure that your floors perform as they should.

Dust Mop–Use a good dust mop, one with a 12 to 18 inch cotton head. Apply a special dust mop treatment. Spray the treatment onto the mop head, not the floor.

Sweep–Brooms with fine, exploded ends trap dust and grit effectively.

Vacuum Regularly–Small stones, mud and gritty dirt tracked in from outside can damage a laminate floor’s finish. To help combat this, use long bristle welcome mats placed at all outside entrances for people to wipe their feet before stepping on the laminate floor. Also, when vacuuming, use a bristle brush attachment. Don’t use vacuums with beater bars. Canister vacuums with special bare floor attachments are the best way to get rid of dirt and dust.

The Master Bedroom of the Athens Plan

 

Use the Proper Chair Glides–Narrow wheels, sharp wooden legs, and metal furniture legs can scratch and dent laminate floors. Any furniture that rests directly on top of a laminate floor should have felt protectors under all its feet.

Don’t Use Oil Soaps–There are many over the counter oil-based soaps and wax-based cleaning products that may damage or dull the finish of your laminate floor. The best suggestion is to only use the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning products on your laminate flooring.

Wipe Spills Up Immediately–When accidents happen and liquid is spilled on your laminate floor, you should use a paper towel to immediately clean up and dry the affected area.

Furniture–Lift the furniture to move it, avoid dragging. The legs of furniture should have felt on the bases to prevent scratching as the furniture moves with use. Take caution when moving heavy objects across laminate floors; it is preferable not to drag things on the laminate, but if one must then lay down a blanket or other item that will slide easily for the item to rest on.

Shoe Marks–The biggest cause of floor damage is what is on one’s feet; make sure your shoes are not exceedingly dirty, be cautious of walking in high heels or cleats across laminate, and black rubber soles can leave marks which will require friction to remove.

Pets–The previous statements also apply to your household pets! Keep your pets’ nails trimmed so they do not scratch the laminate, and your pets’ dishes should sit on a nonslip rubber mat to keep the food and water off the floor. All accidents of a house-training nature should be removed and cleaned as soon as possible to avoid staining of your floors.

Groundbreaking at Covington Pointe

Glynn County has a new homebuilder. Lamar Smith Signature Homes recently broke ground at Covington Pointe, a West Glynn community adjacent to the new Sterling Elementary and Jane Macon Middle Schools. Lamar Smith Signature Homes is a leader in redefining the affordable home in Coastal Georgia and is proud to join the homebuilding community of Glynn County.

With over 20 years experience in the development and residential building industry, Lamar Smith Signature Homes has garnered awards ranging from Savannah’s Best Home Value and Best Master Suite to Builder of the Year by the Home Builders Association of Greater Savannah. Their leadership team of Lamar Smith, Jeff Kramer, and Ashley Durrence consistently provide the vision, experience, and expertise to create the homes and planned communities that today’s buyers want.

Lamar Smith, a well-known businessman throughout Southeast Georgia, believes his company’s success, in spite of the recent downturn in the homebuilding business, is due to creative design, attention to detail, a strategic growth plan, and a commitment to teamwork from marketing to production to sales.

Smith chose Covington Pointe for the site of his first new home community in Glynn County because of its location just off Highway 341 and next to the new, top-ranked elementary and middle schools – Sterling Elementary and Jane Macon Middle. An advocate of designing living spaces where families can ‘live, work, and play,’ Smith says, “Covington Pointe is a great fit for us since students can walk to the new elementary and middle schools through connecting pathways between our residential community and the schools.”

Home plans at Covington Pointe include both one- and two-story floor plans priced from the mid-$120’s to high $170’s. Three homes are currently under construction and will be ready for move-in by late spring, and new contracts “to build” are being accepted by Julie Chapman, Broker, and her team at Chapman Realty, who will be marketing Covington Pointe.  Chapman can be reached at 912-280-0088 or chapmanrealty@yahoo.com.

Cutline for photo: Participating in Lamar Smith Signature Homes’ groundbreaking at the Covington Pointe new home community in West Glynn County were, left-to-right, Arnold Rogers, Jeff Kramer, Syd Gervin, Lamar Smith, Julie Chapman, Richard Latham, David Gynn, Jerry Jones, and Ryan Edenfield.

Cottonvale – Hot Location! Affordability!!

The LAKES at COTTONVALE – One of Chatham County’s most popular communities for price, location, and style can now be your new home address! We have 3 new homes under construction that will be ready for an early summer move in.

At Cottonvale, your neighbors care about curb appeal as much as you do, so you know your community will hold its value. Located off the Highway 17 corridor and across from the Berwick Marketplace, you’ll find that Cottonvale puts you in the heart of West Chatham County.

Shown here are some homes in Cottonvale to give you an idea of the community’s homes and how your neighbors live. Mostly cozy, homey, ranch-style homes, and the sidewalks and trees make it seem like the neighborhoods you remember, where everyone knew everyone and waved when you passed by.

Cottonvale offers families a tremendous opportunity to own a home that will steadily appreciate in value. Competition in this market niche is intense, so owning a home in Cottonvale means it will hold its own and you’ll reap the reward when its time to sell.

Area amenities include a new shopping complex, upgraded transportation routes, quality public schools, and easy access to Historic Downtown Savannah, as well as the major shopping malls.

If you’d like to see Cottonvale and learn about the Lamar Smith Signature homes we are building there, please call Robin Lance, Associate Broker of Prudential Coastal Georgia Properties in Richmond Hill, 912-756-2448.

Lamar was the developer of Cottonvale so you can be assured this new home community was planned and developed with his expert hand guiding the project from its  inception till today. Robin is one of Savannah’s most well-known and most experienced Realtors, and she has long represented Lamar Smith Signature Homes. Her knowledge of the area and of all of the satisfied homeowners in Cottonvale means she can give you detailed information on this highly popular community.

Landscaping Projects for Your New Home

Congratulations! You built or bought your beautiful new home. You have moved in, unpacked, and decorated. But the outside? Does your landscaping leave you wondering what to do? Well, now is the time to start dreaming and planning – Spring is just around the corner!

What is at the top of your list?

–Play area for children
–Pet friendly area
–Vegetable garden
–Dining / barbecue area
–A shed for gardening tools / supplies

 

When planning your backyard, consider what you need and want in your space.

Once you’ve decided on what you want in your backyard, then make up your lists, design your plan, and develop a realistic work schedule. Usually you should start with the bigger jobs to get them out of the way, but don’t force yourself to complete the job within a year. Your plan should be divided in stages over a span of 2-3 years, that way your budget is in alignment and you don’t overwhelm yourself. You should also incorporate things from the list below to enhance the look of your backyard

–Using water features such as fountains, ponds, hot tubs & swimming pools
–Add shade features like pergolas & gazebos
–Assign a theme for your backyard, such as color, style, scent. Or others such as a Japanese rock garden, southwest/desert, or a cottage garden.

There’s enough room for style and comfort. The trend in designing your home indoors has also led it’s way to the outdoors. It’s a trend to make your outdoor living just as comfortable as the indoors. Your backyard can be just as cozy; the main concern would be to weatherproof your outdoor furniture and to also plan for the weather you’ll encounter outside such as rain, wind and sun. For example, a gazebo or awning can help protect against harmful UV rays during the day and insects when the sun goes down. With furniture, make sure to include comfortable seating with cushions and throws when the evening gets a bit chillier.

If you have limited space to work with, consider using containers that are portable and can easily be replaced. You can move them around when guests are over, and you can use the containers to store colorful flowers to brighten dark corners.

Another tip is to include more curved walkways and paths to create the illusion of more space. The flow of space from one area to the next allows an open space feeling compared to small and boxed in.