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posted: 4/12/2014 12:01 AM

First-time buyers explore all their options

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  • This model home is at Reston Ponds in Sycamore, where the builder is offering a discount on two popular floor plans.

      This model home is at Reston Ponds in Sycamore, where the builder is offering a discount on two popular floor plans.
    Courtesy of Shodeen Homes

  • Energy efficiency and improved technology have been the focus of design efforts at William Ryan Homes, which offers this Coventry model in the Chicago area, said Todd Warshauer, director of sales and marketing.

      Energy efficiency and improved technology have been the focus of design efforts at William Ryan Homes, which offers this Coventry model in the Chicago area, said Todd Warshauer, director of sales and marketing.
    Courtesy of William Ryan Homes

  • Lexington Station is under construction in Morton Grove.

      Lexington Station is under construction in Morton Grove.
    Courtesy of Lexington Homes

  • Bristol Park is a new floor plan unveiled recently by D.R. Horton.

      Bristol Park is a new floor plan unveiled recently by D.R. Horton.
    Courtesy of D.R. Horton

  • The Arlington model is offered at Heather Glen in New Lenox, one of nine D.R. Horton communities under construction in the Chicago area.

      The Arlington model is offered at Heather Glen in New Lenox, one of nine D.R. Horton communities under construction in the Chicago area.
    Courtesy of D.R. Horton

  • Airhart Construction's new modern Series are designed to bring an "urban studio experience to the suburbs," President Court Airhart said.

      Airhart Construction's new modern Series are designed to bring an "urban studio experience to the suburbs," President Court Airhart said.
    Courtesy of Airhart Construction

  • Lexington Hills is under construction in Palatine.

      Lexington Hills is under construction in Palatine.
    Courtesy of Lexington Homes

 
By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent

There is nothing more exciting than buying your first home -- except maybe having your first baby!

Now that the economy is back on the right track, more young people are daring to invest in a home, according to local builders. So, homebuilders are making sure they know exactly what this latest generation of homebuyers wants and then are serving it up on their menu of home options.

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"Buyers today want flexible spaces so they can adapt their homes for their specific needs. They know that practicality and versatility ensure lasting value," said Chris Naatz, vice president of D.R. Horton's Chicago division.

"Our home designs put the space in all the right places," he said. "Expansive, open informal areas are popular, with kitchens highlighted by large islands that are ideal for gatherings. In addition, we build homes that can adapt to the changing lifestyle of a first-time buyer who eventually decides to convert that second-floor movie or fitness room into a play room as their family grows."

"We have also found many buyers want a dining room or a living room, but not both, because those rooms are expensive to furnish and they want space that they can use every day," he added.

When it comes to amenities, D.R. Horton offers many that are important to first-time buyers. For instance, most don't take a lot of time to soak in baths. So Naatz said D.R. Horton offers large, spalike "serenity shower" options instead of tubs.

They also offer affordable flooring products like laminate wood floors, vinyl that looks like wood and even ceramic plank tiles that look like wood. They cost much less than wood and demand much less expensive maintenance, so they are popular with first-time buyers, Naatz said. D.R. Horton also offers a wide variety of cabinets and other products that are uniquely suited to meet the budgets of young buyers.

And all of the appliances put into D.R. Horton homes are Energy Star-certified so buyers will see significant savings in their monthly utility bills.

Finally, Naatz said, D.R. Horton has its own mortgage company so first-time buyers can have a seamless experience and will have someone there to "hold their hand through the mortgage process."

D.R. Horton has nine communities in the Chicago area that are geared toward first-time buyers. They are located in such disparate areas as Elgin, New Lenox, Johnsburg, Huntley and Volo. For more information, including prices, visit www.drhorton.com/Chicago.

Airhart Construction

Three refreshing new home designs aimed at hip, young buyers, in particular, are now available from West Chicago-based Airhart Construction at select new home communities.

"These Modern Series homes are inspired by the international forms that debuted in the 1930s, namely from architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, pioneers in modern design," said Court Airhart, president. "The Modern homes can be built at certain Airhart locations and are also ideal for infill teardown sites. The designs lend themselves well to the smaller lots found close to town centers."

The interiors of these homes have great open spaces providing a myriad furniture plan options, helping to meet the living and entertaining needs of the of the modern homebuyer. Unique exteriors present the buyer with the exciting opportunity to participate through their own artistic expression in the discreet use of color, form, balance and texture, he said.

Windows are placed in a way that not only give interesting form to the exterior design, but add to the home's interior feeling of spaciousness through the careful consideration of exterior views through the windows.

"By creating intriguing, flexible space with our new designs, our architects bring the urban studio experience to the suburbs," Airhart said. "In addition, the customer is encouraged to be very much involved in the design of their new home, bringing a sense of achievement and real value to their experience."

Low maintenance exterior materials used in the construction of the Modern Series include brick, natural wood design accents, stone, stucco, glass, Pella vinyl windows and fiber cement surfaces. Interior features include bamboo, carpet and tile floors; modern millwork trims, cabinets, natural stone counters, stainless appliances and distinctive modern plumbing. The ceilings are varied in height. The homes are built with full basements and two-car garages.

Two home designs feature walk-in closets in all bedrooms and another offers a master-bedroom suite on the first floor. The homes feature three to four bedrooms and 2½ to 3½ baths and range in size from 1,900 to 2,700 square feet of living space. In addition, every Airhart Construction home is built to stringent energy-efficiency specifications.

To preview the Modern Series designs, visit Fisher Farm, 1N578 Golf View Lane, Winfield, visit www.airhartconstruction.com or call (630) 665-5700.

William Ryan Homes

William Ryan Homes has made a concerted effort to attract the millennials who are today's first-time buyers.

"For about two years we have offered a customizable wiring package in our homes that allows the tech-savvy, first-time buyer to control their thermostat, doors and lighting from their Smartphone or tablet, if they so wish. It is called the Control 4 System and is provided by Abt Electronics, our electronics supplier," said Todd Warshauer, director of sales and marketing for William Ryan Homes' Chicago division.

"This system acts as the 'brain' of the home and also has the potential to control security, audio and video throughout," he added.

William Ryan Homes has also made its website entirely "mobile device friendly" so that millennials can search out information about the firm from wherever they are.

Energy efficiency is another important box to check for first-time buyers, Warshauer said. So William Ryan Homes feature hi-efficiency furnaces, insulated basements and high-end insulation throughout the home so homebuyers can count on minimized energy bills once they move in.

"First-time buyers tend to be more price-conscious so they are looking at what their total investment in the home will be, including utility bills," he said.

William Ryan Homes is also offering smaller homes to keep the price down for young buyers. All of its homes now offer a three-bedroom option, instead of its formerly standard four bedrooms. They have also fine-tuned floor plans to offer more space that can be used however each buyer wishes. The same space could potentially be used as a game room, office or dining room, depending on the owner.

"It gives homebuyers more choice in how they use their new home," Warshauer said. "We also offer them the option of having us finish their basement for them, complete with a wet bar, so they have even more usable space that they can use as their family grows."

When it comes to exteriors, Warshauer and his team have found that young buyers want less monotony and more choice. So William Ryan exterior elevations offer multiple choices when it comes to adding brick, stone or columns so that the neighborhood has a unique look to it with nice streetscapes, cul-de-sacs and parks.

William Ryan Homes has seven active communities offering homes geared to first-time buyers. They include The Coves in Algonquin, White Ash in Plainfield and Walnut Glen in Island Lake. For more information, visit www.WilliamRyanHomes.com.

Shodeen Homes

Shodeen Homes' new single-family community in Sycamore, Reston Ponds, has introduced reduced pricing on two of its most popular models, a ranch and a two-story home, both starting just under $200,000, in order to capture the first-time buyer market.

"We have noticed that more first-time buyers are looking at single-family homes because they are thinking more long-term and wanting a home they can grow into with a yard. So we are trying to accommodate them," said Nate Amidon, director of sales.

"They are looking for three-bedroom homes, generally. Two bedrooms aren't enough and four bedrooms are a bit too pricey for most. But they like the better features. So we are offering granite countertops, stainless steel kitchen appliances, luxury baths; ceramic tile floors in the kitchen, foyer and powder room and even framed and insulated basements, so we are including them as standard," he said.

"They also want to be able to live in lots of different ways in their house. They want, for instance, a living room that can be converted into a den and we offer that in these models in Sycamore."

Amidon said Reston Ponds is designed to attract both first-time buyers and move-up buyers, with three models aimed at each group. The community features six ponds, a gazebo, walking paths and acres of land that have been donated for use as future park space. For more information, call (877) 901-5151 or visit www.shodeenhomes.com/reston-ponds.

Lexington Homes

Townhouse communities like those built by Chicago-based Lexington Homes have always appealed to first-time buyers as an intermediate step between an apartment and a single-family home.

But the townhouses that Lexington is building today are even more appealing to these young buyers because they are coming equipped with "Green Edge," a smart technology that helps homeowners save on their utility bills by turning off things when no one is home and controlling other aspects of the home environment for maximum energy savings, said Jeff Benach, co-principal of Lexington Homes. The new models now under construction at both Lexington Hills in Palatine and Lexington Station in Morton Grove include this technology.

"As one of Chicago's oldest private homebuilders, we're known for staying on top of changing lifestyles and design trends in Chicago's housing market. So, we are constantly evolving our portfolio to ensure we are always meeting homebuyers' needs," Benach said.

"At Lexington Station, for example, new designs include functional and flexible spaces like great rooms and larger kitchens with more countertop and seating space that provide convenient day-to-day living and ample room for entertaining," he added.

First-time buyers are also attracted to Lexington's energy-efficient furnace and increased insulation, as well as the fact that it offers a wide variety of mortgage packages to make the financing of their new home very easy, Benach said.

For more information about Lexington Homes, visit www.lexingtonchicago.com or call (847) 232-7200 (for Morton Grove) or (847) 818-0800 (for Palatine).

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