What should customers look for in a custom builder? What questions should they ask?

January 28th, 2013

Trends in Customer Homebuilding in Orange County

What should customers look for in a custom builder? What questions should they ask?

Obviously, experience should be at the top of the list.  And not necessarily just experience building custom homes, but experience in high-end materials, finishes and the ability to purchase those materials at competitive prices.

The stability of the builder is also key.  It has been a rough few years for everyone in this business and the last thing that a homeowner needs is to have the contractor close up shop in the middle of construction due to financial difficulties.

Finally, customers should look for a builder who they can be personally compatible with.  Ask to meet the person who will be in charge of their home on a daily basis.  Most clients don’t realize how much of building a new custom home is a collaborative effort.  If you don’t get along with the project manager, it will be a long process for everyone involved.

 

 


MARK WHITEHEAD, VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS FOR BRANDYWINE CUSTOM HOMES

The attention to quality construction and detail that Whitehead brings to his role with our company is one of the reasons many of our customers have purchased second and third Brandywine homes.

As vice president of operations, Whitehead’s duties include overseeing construction, purchasing and customer service. Since joining our company in 1995, he has established long-term relationships with material suppliers and subcontractors which have allowed Brandywine Homes to benefit from master contracts. This helps to minimize construction costs while maintaining a quality that shows in every completed home, which is a testament to the quality control and attention to customer service that Brandywine demands.

Whitehead learned the business from the ground up by working as a field superintendent overseeing daily operations and construction of various communities in Southern California.

His ability to work closely with municipal officials during the entitlement process sets the stage for Brandywine and cities to work together to create cohesive communities.

 

 

 

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West Covina housing project to be built on church property

January 23rd, 2013

By Juliette Funes, Staff Writer
12/28/2012

West Covina housing project to be built on church property

WEST COVINA – After being vacant for the last several years, a Lutheran Church elementary school and playground on Valinda Avenue will soon be demolished to make room for a neighborhood of 19 single-family homes.

The Planning Commission earlier this month approved plans for Irvine-based developer Brandywine Homes to build 19 two-story homes adjacent to Immanuel First Lutheran Church at 512 S. Valinda Ave. The new gated housing community will be built on a 2.3-acre site that church officials have agreed to sell to the real estate developer.

The City Council is expected to take final action on the project at a public hearing tentatively scheduled for Jan. 15.

“It looks like a great project for the area,” Commissioner Paul Blackburn said. “Hopefully the prices will be good and we’ll have 19 new families in the area.”

The church has been actively trying to sell a portion of its 5.1-acre land that includes a vacant pre-school through eighth-grade school, snack bar, walkways, grass athletic field and a sandlot with playground equipment.

The site also contains trees that would be removed as part of the proposed residential project.

The sanctuary and the parking lot leased out to the East Valley Community Health Center will remain intact.

“We had to close the school for various reasons and we felt it was time to close it permanently and better serve the community in other ways,” Immanuel First Lutheran Church

Pastor Mason Okubo said. “It’s just been sitting there, so we thought, let’s develop it with some nice homes.”

Brandywine Homes is proposing to build the homes – which will either be 2,150-square-feet or 2,430-square-feet, including attached two-car garages – in several phases.

Two model homes will be built, with units being constructed as they’re sold, company official Kye Evans said.

The project will include extra parking for guests and private open space for homeowners, he said.

According to Evans, the cost of the homes will range from the high $400,000s to low $500,000s. It will take about 21 months for the project to be fully built out.

“When I see a project like this – and we’ve had them before – I go for the pluses and minus,” Commissioner David Steward said. “With this project, it comes out real well on the plus side. I don’t see any problem at all.”

 

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How Much Do I Have to Save to Buy a Home?

January 21st, 2013

Saving for a home doesn’t have to be stressful — most lenders will finance 80% to 95% of the purchase cost if you’re in good financial standing.  Do you know what factors lenders consider when pre-approving and approving home loans?  John Adams on Realtor.com shares how much you have to save to buy a home and factors that affect your home loan approval: [READ more…]

 


via http://www.realtor.com/home-finance/buyers-basics/how-much-do-i-have-to-save-to-buy-a-home.aspx?source=web

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San Gabriel Valley Tribune “West Covina council approves development of housing project on church site”

January 16th, 2013

WEST COVINA – The council on Tuesday unanimously voted to approve a 19-unit housing project that will be constructed on property adjacent to Immanuel First Lutheran Church.

The Planning Commission last month approved plans for Irvine-based developer Brandywine Homes to develop the new gated housing community, which will be built on a 2.3-acre site at 512 S. Valinda Ave.

The council took final action to approve plans and a zoning change.

“We’re very excited to be in the city of West Covina with our first project,” said Brett Whitehead, president of Brandywine Homes. “We’ve worked hand-in-hand with staff and I think we’ve come up with a really fantastic project. We’re excited to finally be at this stage.”

The church has been actively trying to sell a portion of its 5.1-acre land that includes a vacant pre-school through eighth-grade school, snack bar, walkways, grass athletic field and a sandlot with playground equipment. The site also contains trees that would be removed as part of the proposed residential project.

The sanctuary and the parking lot leased out to the East Valley Community Health Center will remain intact.

Officials with the real estate company said the cost of the homes will range from the high $400,000s to low $500,000s. It will take about 21 months for the project to be fully built out.

 

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How Much Home Can I Afford

January 16th, 2013

by: Scott Schang, FindMyWayHome.com

According to the most recent Housing Affordability Index (http://www.car.org/marketdata/data/ftbhai/), nearly two-thirds of Californians can afford to purchase an entry level home.

Affordability is more than just a word, especially when you hear it in the context of reports like this that are based on price averages, median incomes and 10% down payment.  Being able to realize the American Dream of Home Ownership is too important to rely on statistics and analytics.

Here is a simple guide to help you understand how to calculate how much you can afford, and a few tricks you can use to increase your affordability.

 

Debt to Income Ratio (DTI)

Your Debt to Income Ratio is what determines how much home you can afford.  Simply put, it’s the percentage of your gross income that is committed to paying the debts on your credit report, and your proposed housing payment.

The next step is calculating your Gross Income.

 

Gross Income Calculation

Your gross income is what you make before taxes and deductions.  For most W2 employees, the gross income from your W2 is all you’ll need to start with.

Self-employed homebuyers must use the written down, net taxable income from your tax returns, averaged over two years.

Add in your proposed mortgage payment of $1750 (hypothetically)

Now, we calculate debt.

 

Calculating Debt

The debt portion of your debt to income ratio comes from your credit report.

Note:  If you have student loans that are deferred, proof that it will be deferred for at least 12 months is required to not have to include in debt to income ratio.  Also, if you have an auto loan with less than 10 months left on the installment loan, that payment can be taken out of your calculation.

 

Calculating your Debt to Income ratio

The calculation for finding your debt to income ratio is pretty actually:  Debt / divided by Income = DTI

 

Example of Debt Calculation

Car:                 $400
Credit Cards:  $300
Debt Calc:       $700

Proposed Payment: $1,750

 

Example of Income Calculation

Gross from W2:   $55,000
Divide by 12 to get gross monthly income
Gross Monthly:  $4,583

(Debt $700 + House Payment $1,750) = $2,450 / Income $4,583 = .5345

You have a back end DTI ratio of 53% (front end DTI is housing payment only).  Your housing payment includes taxes, insurance, mortgage insurance and HOA insurance if any apply.

 

Maximum Allowable DTI for Common Loan Types

  • FHA:  56% with automated underwriting approval
  • VA:  41% but may be flexible with compensating factors
  • Conventional:  45% with automated approval / 50% with compensating factors

Based on the above example, here is what you’ve found out:

  1. You could look at ways to decrease your debt
  2. You can lower your price range so that your payment decreases
  3. You can simply use a FHA insured mortgage allows up to 56% DTI

Important: Your debt to income ratio is just one of many factors that go into establishing eligibility for a home loan.  While the calculations are accurate, there are many factors that go into calculating the debt, and the income that are used for determining your final DTI.

Use this as a rule of thumb and consult a licensed loan officer about qualifying.

 

 

 

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OC Register “Saurastri: All signs point to a boon for sellers in 2013”

January 15th, 2013

The Lemongrass Development built by Brandywine Homes that is just south of Talbert Avenue and east of Magnolia Street has sold out. I spoke with Brian Taylor in the sales office at Solana Walk, the new development by Olson Homes behind City Hall. Brian said there are still Arbor and Fountain townhouses available and there is no release date yet for Phase IV of the single family homes. Whether it’s a new house or a resale home, all market indications are that 2013 will be a boon for sellers with rising home prices. If you’ve been sitting on the fence waiting for the market to turn around, now is the time to call your Realtor and jump off the fence. Multiple buyers will be waiting at your front door with their bid in hand. Some will have family photos and letters attempting to convince you to choose their offer over the others. Anyway you slice it sellers will be getting the bigger piece of the pie in 2013.

 

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The Garden Grove Journal “Harbor, apartments on GG agenda”

January 7th, 2013

Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater tabled a proposal to shorten the public comment period to three minutes after residents voiced opposition Tuesday night—some for more than five minutes, the current limit.

A few said three minutes isn’t enough time to express their opinions on more than one issue. Another cited the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law, and the First Amendment.

Tony Flores, a West Garden Grove resident, directed his comments at the mayor.

“Like you said so many times Mr. Mayor, Garden Grove sets the standard,” Flores said. “Garden Grove should be smart enough that we keep our freedom of speech intact.”

Before tabling the proposal, Broadwater cited his years of council meetings, in which some residents spoke for well over the time limit, and meetings ran for five or six hours. He now sees residents use the open-comment period as a platform for their political campaigns, he said.

“They sometimes turn around and address the audience,” Broadwater added. “The Brown Act is there to give the opportunity to discuss an issue for a certain amount of time prior to voting on it.”

Also Tuesday, the council gave developer Brandywine Homes the go-ahead to build an apartment project at 14051 and 14061 Hope Street. With the project, Brandywine agreed to pay a $65,144 fee, although the sole resident who spoke about the project asked for something else as a “small token of appreciation.”

“I ask Brandywine to give back to Garden Grove and supply brand new American flags for Main Street,” said longtime resident John McIntosh.

Afterwards, City Manager Matt Fertal noted that the developer also paid $5,500 per unit toward the parking fund and must contribute toward parks and public areas.

In other business, the council approved new median landscaping, decorative walkways and updated business signs along the stretch of Harbor Boulevard from the Hampton Inn north of Chapman Avenue to just south of Lampson Avenue.

 

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The Garden Grove Journal “Harbor, apartments on GG agenda”

January 7th, 2013

Bruce Broadwater will wield the gavel as mayor for his first full meeting of his new term when the Garden Grove City Council convenes Tuesday evening.

The agenda looks fairly light, although there are several noteworthy items. In a study session in the Founders’ Room in the Community Meeting Center at 5:30 p.m., the subject of Harbor Boulevard improvements will be considered.

Harbor Boulevard is at the center of Garden Grove’s efforts to create a tourism-entertainment corridor called “International West.”  Harbor is already home to nearly a dozen mid- to high-rise hotels as well as several new chain restaurants, but city leaders are hoping to extend a lively thoroughfare of entertainment venues, hotels and more from the Anaheim city limit all the way to Westminster Avenue.

Part of the re-branding process could include improvements on Harbor such as attractive themed signage, landscaping and synchronized traffic signals.

The regular open session of the city council will begin at 6:30 p.m.

A public hearing is scheduled on a proposal by Brandywine Homes to construct an apartment complex at 14051 and 14061 Hope St.

Also on the agenda are appointments to various public agencies, boards, commissions and committees.

The city council meets at the CMC at 11300 Stanford Ave.

 

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What type of homebuyer/owner seeks a custom home builder?

January 7th, 2013

Trends in Customer Homebuilding in Orange County

Many people think that all custom homebuyers are wealthy individuals looking to build their dream house in an exclusive neighborhood filled with other custom homes.  While this may be true some of the time, there can be many other reasons for a homeowner to build a custom home. Just recently, we completed a 4,000 sq. ft. custom home in Yorba Linda for a family who lost their home in the Freeway Complex Fire in November of 2008.  This OC family didn’t want to leave their neighborhood and had insurance adequate to complete a beautiful new home to their specifications.

 

Mark Whitehead, Vice President of Operations for Brandywine Custom Homes

The attention to quality construction and detail that Whitehead brings to his role with our company is one
of the reasons many of our customers have purchased second and third Brandywine homes.

As vice president of operations, Whitehead’s duties include overseeing construction, purchasing and
customer service. Since joining our company in 1995, he has established long-term relationships with
material suppliers and subcontractors which have allowed Brandywine Homes to benefit from master
contracts. This helps to minimize construction costs while maintaining a quality that shows in every
completed home, which is a testament to the quality control and attention to customer service that
Brandywine demands.

Whitehead learned the business from the ground up by working as a field superintendent overseeing daily
operations and construction of various communities in Southern California.

His ability to work closely with municipal officials during the entitlement process sets the stage for
Brandywine and cities to work together to create cohesive communities.

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OC Metro “13 business essentials for 2013 … and beyond”

January 1st, 2013

Whether you’re a sole proprietor or have 1,000 employees, every professional needs to hone his tools of the trade to remain razor sharp in the New Year.

It’s not just carpenters and homebuilders who need a sound set of tools to optimize their work. So do those in the business world. Their hammers, drills and wire cutters are the strategies, the planning and the adaptability that make their businesses successful.

However, many experts warn that the old clunky tools for businesspeople may not work in the new year. As society grows more sophisticated, we need to grow with it. Trying to operate in today’s world with the equipment of the 20th century is like attempting to position a fiber optic wire with a monkey wrench.

“A businessperson in 2013 may want to try and forget the last few years for any guidance on how to operate in the future,” says Dr. Anil Puri, dean of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at Cal State Fullerton. “The last four years have taught us all to be hard-nosed about business and investment ventures that do not have good plans or well-defined objectives.”

Others say you should know how to combine sound principles of the past with a need for changing market strategies – and cultivate a new respect for social media.

We asked business experts from a variety of industries around Orange County for their thoughts on what should be in a business leader’s toolbox for success in 2013. Here are 13 pieces of advice to stay successful – now and in the coming years.


1 Recognize that not everything has to change.

“The fundamentals of sound marketing haven’t changed, just the delivery systems. And the fundamentals are even more important than ever to master and leverage, because in the world of business uncertainty, they have the power to inject critical doses of consistency and reliability into your brand.”

– Hilary Kaye, president, HKA Inc. Public Relations of Tustin, whose clients include some of the major business players in Orange County

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