When it comes to debt, we each tend to think of different types of debt in different ways. For example, you may feel “normal” for having an auto loan but ashamed of having credit card debt. So what about real estate? People buy homes either as a home to live in or as a way to earn extra income. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that most look at it as “good” debt — either out of necessity (the cost of a home makes it nearly impossible for anyone to purchase one in cash) or simply because it’s so common.

Since the housing bubble burst, it may be time to rethink whether real estate can always be considered “good” debt. Like anything else, the answer to this depends on where you are financially and what you can afford to take on. Below are a few points to help you make a decision that’s right for you.

How Much Home Can You Afford?

Thursday January 17, 2013

For anyone thinking about purchasing a home, it’s the most fundamental question: How much can you really afford? 

Here’s an overview of what matters to lenders and how you can more accurately predict whether you’ll qualify for a given loan amount or not.

Mortgage Secret #1: Ratios are hugely important.

As you plan your new home, one of the most important decisions is selecting the floor plan. The arrangement of rooms, the flow from one room to another and the use of space help determine the feel of your new home. Lamar Smith Signature Homes has long recognized the vital role that floor plans play in determining your opinion of a home. That’s why we create furnished model homes that home buyers can walk through, to better experience a new home before purchase. However, you may be considering a version of one of our floor plans that’s not available for tour as a model home. If so, there are several simple tips that will have you reading a two-dimensional floor plan like a pro.

Housewarming Party

Did you know that the original housewarming party was literally a housewarming? Guests brought firewood as gifts and lit fires in all the fireplaces in the home. Obviously this warmed up the place for the family, but it was also believed to ward off evil spirits. Uninhabited homes were thought to attract roaming ghosts, so a new home would have to be rid of that bad energy before it could become a happy abode.

Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to move into a new home in 2013? One of the keys to making the home-buying process easier and more understandable is planning. In doing so, you’ll be able to anticipate requests from lenders, lawyers and a host of other professionals. Furthermore, planning will help you discover valuable shortcuts in the home-buying process. Follow these steps to achieve your goal of home ownership in 2013.

Resolution #1: Decide What You Want
Let’s start with the fun part. The first step is to decide what you are looking for. You need to determine the what, where, and when of your purchase. What kind of house are you looking for? Where would you like to live? When would you like to buy? Spend a lot of time thinking about this, a new home is a serious commitment and you want to choose somewhere where you can happily live for several years.

Today’s new homes offer more benefits than ever before. Here’s a quick list of the Top 10 reasons why so many home buyers prefer new homes to used houses:

1) Design Your Dream Home Your Way: Why settle for someone else’s choices when you can select your favorite cabinets, countertops, appliances, carpets and flooring? Your new Lamar Smith Signature Home will reflect your style, not someone else’s taste. You will choose your exterior and interior finishes, including the colors for your siding, brick or stone (if applicable), cabinets, countertops, carpet, hard surface flooring (e.g., tile, hardwood or laminate), lighting, kitchen and bath fixtures, and any optional features you chose for your home. Visit our Design Center for more details.

According to a new report by,  the average operating cost of a new home is less than an older home. The annual operation costs associated with owning a home include utilities, maintenance, property taxes, and insurance. Recent studies using data from the 2011 the American Housing Survey (AHS), sponsored by HUD and conducted by the Census Bureau investigate these operating expenses and looks at how these costs vary depending on the age of the structure. Findings include the following:

Enjoy Your Outdoor Living Space All Year

Wednesday December 12, 2012

When people talk about outdoor living space, all thoughts seem to head towards summer cookouts. Once the autumn weather slips in, however, you have plenty of time and activities to enjoy outside on your patio, deck, balcony, and yard.

Seasonal outdoor decorating is as festive outside as it is inside your home. Add autumn colors and décor, like pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, and wreaths. Place easy-to-tend container gardens with hardy plants like kale, asters, mums, and sedum, which can tolerate the chill but keep your outdoors colorful and alive!

Change your outdoor color scheme by swapping out the cushions on your patio furniture. It’s a good time to clean and stash the summer cushions. Have some warm lap throws available for use outdoors, too. Lay down an outdoor rug to cozy up an area for fall.

Throwing a Labor-Day Party

Monday August 27, 2012

For as hard as Americans work, it’s a good thing there’s a national holiday to commemorate the contributions the workforce has made to the welfare of the country. For more than 100 years, Americans have been celebrating Labor Day. From street parades to in-home gatherings, we sure know how to observe this holiday the right way. If you’re one of the millions of people who will be hosting a Labor Day party at your home, pay attention: There are ways to take the labor out of planning, while keeping your home in tip-top shape. Here are some tips to help you throw a labor-free soiree to honor that little thing we call work.