Thursday, November 6, 2008

Go Penn State!

The McKee Group would like to congratulate Pennsylvania State University's football players, students and alumni on what is turning out to be an awesome season! Go Nittany Lions!



The Village of Nittany Glen is also in the middle of an awesome season! We have brand new models with kitchens like this standard.




Check them out here: http://www.nittanyglen.com/nittany_ranch.asp

The Village of Buckingham Springs

Have you considered a McKee Village community? The Village communities are an exciting pathway to your new 55 and better lifestyle. You'll purchase your home, and in an unique ownership module, rent the land from The McKee Group. With that you get a clubhouse and outside amenities with a full-time social director, on-site maintenance and service staff, a carefree life and much, much more.

Check out homes currently for sale at The Village of Buckingham Springs.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Big Day

No matter how you voted yesterday, I think we can all agree that with the elections over the country can move on. Since most of my readers have homes for sale or are thinking of putting their homes for sale (to enjoy their new McKee lifestyle), let's hope that a change can boost consumer confidence enough to get people to your open houses and web listings. So, put away the knickknacks, paint the garage floor and spend some money on landscaping - I am feeling very good about your prospects!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Villa's at Foxfield

On Saturday, October 11th, we debuted two new models at Foxfield, one of our premier 55+ communities, located in Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania. The new Villas models begin in the low $200's and feature private garages, maintenance-free living, a golf course and a fully-equipped and busy clubhouse.

Savvy Woman Homebuyer

Women - you are practical and smart! Twice as many single women by homes as do single men! Check out this resource for women buying and selling their homes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall, Part 2: Fab Fall Closer to Home

Fab Fall Activities

1. Maize Maze
This is my absolute favorite fall activity. Last year I discovered Cherry Crest Adventure Farm and fell in love. They have a petting zoo, crafts and even an Amish dollmaking workshop. But the best part is the 5 acre maze made out of corn! Hours of fun for groups of 2 or 200! Check it out here: http://www.cherrycrestfarm.com/, but hurry - there are only 5 weeks left and the corn is good and tall.



2. New Hope, PA
This town is adorable and worth your attention. Delicious restaurants, easy transportation and just a very pretty place.

3. Get outside and get dirty!
We know that you have said goodbye to having to do your yardwork, but if you miss it at all (probably not) - get dirty for a good cause. Join Philadelphia Cares and check out their environmental offerrings. Work on hiking trails with the Riverbend Environmental Education Center or help take care of the stables at the Chamounix Stables.

Fall, Part 1: Fun Fall Getaways

Fall is my favorite time of the year! And it is my favorite time of the year to go on adventures near and far. Since our homeowners also love adventures, I thought I would suggest a few. Fall, Part 1 will feature Fun Fall Getaways. Fall, Part 2 will be about adventures closer to home.

1. Boston
My home for 12 years is a great palce to visit in the fall. I recommend driving there. The ride through Western Mass is absolutely beautiful this time of the year. Spend a night or two in a B & B there, then get up in the morning and hit the city. Take a Duck Tour and eat lunch at Durgin Park in Quincy Market. Fun fun fun.

2. Annapolis, Maryland
Fall is the time to visit Annapolis. This is one of the most beautiful towns around in my opinion and not to be missed. Go now and avoidthe heat and the crowds. Yippee! Check out http://www.visitannapolis.org/. Make sure you take a tour of the Naval Academy.

3. Cape May, New Jersey or 4. Atlantic City, New Jersey
Take advantage of the fall prices and visit the Garden State. Many of you are from there anyway! Either go Victorian and visit another era, or pretend that you are part of the Brat Pack and party it up!

Home Again, Home Again

Hello Everyone!


I have been away from the blog for too long and I apologize. I have a good excuse though. I got married and went on a honeymoon!


Here's the proof:



Stay tuned for more! Jenni

Friday, September 19, 2008

On the House: For sellers, 'as is' isn't an option

From our friend, Al Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Columnist

A colleague has decided to downsize to a condo and has added her house to the substantial existing-home inventory in Philadelphia.

She and her late husband were part of the urban-pioneering movement in their neighborhood in the early 1970s. For their efforts, and as a result of the housing boom in the early part of this decade, they accumulated a substantial amount of equity that even this bump in the real estate road cannot reduce.

But she faces a buyer's market, with all that implies, made more difficult by tighter credit in the aftermath of the subprime debacle of August 2007.

The price she is asking is within the financial means of a young professional single or couple - I've seen newly minted lawyers buy Rittenhouse Square condos for about the same amount.
She also is willing to negotiate, and that puts her ahead of the pack. Agents tell me that there are plenty of sellers who remain unwilling to budge from the wrongheaded "but my neighbor sold his house in 2006 for a zillion dollars" view of proper pricing.

Still, she and her agent realize that she cannot sell the house "as is." With record inventory on the city market and sales down about 25 percent from a year ago, buyers can afford to be picky. So seller and agent need to come up with a game plan to turn the house into a sale.
Simple things: Toilets need to flush, faucets mustn't drip or drain sluggishly, water heaters must operate properly.

Heating and central air-conditioning systems go without saying. It would be better if they were newer, for the sake of maximum energy efficiency, but if they operate properly and well, and look as if they'll do the job for a few more years, then they should be fine.

Prospective buyers may ask to see your monthly heating and cooling bills, as well as your water bills. Living costs are rising, salaries are flat, and today's buyers are adding a whole host of expenses to the monthly mortgage payment to see whether they can handle homeownership.
Lots of insulation, efficient windows and doors, a roof that doesn't leak or need replacement, gutters and chimneys that are clean and in good working order are also important.

The exterior of a house tends to be more a buyer issue than the interior, since the innards are exposed to the wider world by invitation only. Today's shoppers won't be fooled by mulch or freshly planted flowers, just as they know the potpourri, freshly baked bread and boiled cinnamon stick ploys, too.

If the exterior needs painting and repair, pay for it. If the interior is gorgeous but too dark, washing the windows will let in natural light.

Don't worry about the interior. If they don't like the colors, that's easy to change.

Remember, listen to your agent. One who's worth the commission will know the market and the competition.

Most of all, hang in there. It may take awhile, but your house will sell - maybe even for more than the "proper price."

"On the House" appears Sundays in The Inquirer. Contact Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472 or aheavens@phillynews.com.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Realtor.com blog

We love Realtors!! Check them out here: http://talk.realtor.com/

MVP Awards

Here at McKee Builders we like to give credit where credit is due.

We know that we would not be able to provide the quality that we require on our homes without the hard work and dedication of our wonderful subcontractors. We rely on them to build a quality product with quality materials on time with excellent customer service. Our relationships with our subcontractors is one of our most valued assets and we do not take them for granted.

To recognize those subcontractors that go above and beyond even our strictest requirements we present Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards twice a year in each community.

This quarter's MVP's are (DRUM ROLL PLEASE):

FOXFIELD
Creative Carpentry Trim Crew

FOXFIELD VILLAS
Component Technology (They make the roof trusses - I had to ask!)

CHAMPIONS' CLUB
Creative Touch Interiors (CTI) (Our flooring partner)

SPRING ARBOR
MacLaren Fabrication, Inc. (They are responsible for your beautiful countertops.)

(WILD DEAFENING ROAR)

Monday, July 21, 2008

10 Ways to make sure your house does NOT sell!

Pretty funny...from cnn.com...

1. Leave out your pictures, magazines, books, and knickknacks. You want a prospective buyer to feel that they know you, right?
Wrong. You want the buyers to immediately begin imagining themselves living in your house, and they'll have a hard time seeing beyond the pictures of your family at Beaver Creek and the old issues of Gun & Garden.
Even worse, they might find your taste in books laughable or your choice of evening wear tacky and decide they couldn't possibly live in your house.
So clear every surface, every side table, every coffee table, the sideboard, the desk and the dining room table. You can put one item in each room, and it should be a plant or flowers.

2. Don't change the cat litter. After all, you changed it yesterday, right? It doesn't smell that bad yet.
Or.....give your house the sniff test. It should smell fresh and clean. Nothing is more off-putting to a prospective buyer than a house that's stale-smelling, or worse.
Often, you become so inured to the smell of your own home that you don't notice scents that might offend a visitor. Empty the garbage cans, load dirty clothes into the washing machine, run a lemon through the disposal, give wood furniture a quick swipe with polish, and for goodness sake, change the litter box.

3. Express yourself! Indulge in your favorite colors in vividly painted walls and furniture. Paint an accent wall a bright color. It's fun!
Or...make your house a place anyone could imagine making their own. This means removing most evidence of your own personality. Decorate with a rigorous devotion to beige.
Neutral walls, pale furniture, soft lighting, and inoffensive art all go a long way towards creating a crowd-pleasing interior. Remove your collections to a safe place for the duration of the selling process, since you want a prospective buyer to look at the space, not get distracted by your Beanie Baby collection.

4. Stash your dirty magazines and movies in your oven or drawers! No one will open them to look inside.
Oh, yes they will. Get rid of everything you wouldn't want your mother to see. Prospective buyers will open the oven, investigate drawers for function and capacity, and study your closets and your medicine cabinet.
Part of preparing your house to sell is a ruthless purging of all these places and a thoughtful review of potentially embarrassing items in your house. If your bedroom is your personal love palace, remove any evidence of your rollicking sex life, at least temporarily.

5. Leave your furniture arranged as it is. That way people can see how much you can fit into the room!
Or....remove those extra pieces of furniture that make a room livable but add to the sense of clutter -- side tables, foot stools, magazine racks, and rocking chairs, which take up more space than a fixed chair. Create simple arrangements with maximum impact.
Often people arrange their living room as if they're hosting the neighborhood watch association meeting, with all the furniture lined up along the walls. Instead, place a sofa facing the fireplace, and flank it with two chairs facing a coffee table in between. This will create visual depth and an inviting vignette.

6. Make sure buyers know your team loyalties. Don't forget to fly that Red Sox flag!
Or...put your fan-of-the-year behavior on hold for a while, and stash your team merchandise away in the attic. What if your best prospect is a Yankee's fan? You don't want to lose a buyer over a big sponge #1 finger. The same goes for religious paraphernalia, although that may actually be less of a deal-breaker than the wrong team loyalty.

7. Don't worry about the breakfast dishes in the sink. People will understand you were in a rush to get out the door that morning.
Or....they'll think you're a slob who couldn't be bothered to put the dishes in the dishwasher, and probably hasn't taken very good care of the house. Other people's dirty dishes are especially revolting, and conjure images of squalor. If it means you have to take your family out to breakfast, make sure you leave the kitchen pristine. My Home Ideas: Company-ready kitchen
The same goes for the bathroom. Dry the inside of the sink and the surrounding counter completely before you leave the house.

8. Let the buyer fix the hole in the wall and the broken light fixture. They may want to choose their own!
Or...be prepared to lose a sale over the poor condition of your house. Everything in your house must be in good working order before you put it on the market. This process can take a couple of months, but you need to fix all broken fixtures, change all burned out light bulbs, repair any flaws in the walls, and refresh any paint that needs it.
The same goes for outdated or worn wallpaper. Some things do not get better with age, and nothing dates a room more than eighties wallpaper.

9. Leave the yard as is. After all, it's the house they're coming to see!
Or...learn to see your yard an extension of the house, and give it a thorough once-over. Trim unruly bushes, pull weeds, spread fresh mulch, and keep it mowed.
Your yard sets the expectations of the buyer before they've even stepped in your house. Consider installing attractive outdoor lighting. It goes a long way, for a little investment, toward creating a dramatic mood. And if you have a dog, go on a hunt for "land-mines" and clean them up.

10. Leave your dog in his crate while people look at your house. He's well-behaved.
Or...he's not so well-behaved when you're not there and strangers are tromping through his house. Nothing is so distracting as a barking dog when prospects are trying to get a detailed look at your house. Even though he might be contained, his voice will carry. Take him with you if you can, or drop him at a pet-friendly neighbor's house and repay them with house-sitting or a similar service.

Foxfield golf course

The Foxfield golf course as been receiving some great press. Here is a sample from cybergolf.com and philly.com.

Scott-Taylor Designs Six-hole Course in Pennsylvania

Welsh golf architect, Ian Scott-Taylor, has completed the design and construction of a six-hole golf course for an over-55 community called Foxfield Clubhouse Community in Garnet Valley, Pa.
Last year, project developer The McKee Group contracted Scott-Taylor to design and build the "Old World-style" course as part of the project. In addition to the course the project includes a 9,200-square-foot clubhouse and pool and tennis facilities. Europe's first six-hole course opened in 2006 at the Northwick Park Golf Course in the Watford Road section of London. A handful of six-hole courses exist in the U.S. Today, more six-hole golf courses have been built and in planning in the States for time-strapped golfers and sites with smaller tracts of land.
Foxfield is located 20 miles outside of Philadelphia. The course will serve as a centerpiece in the development, which will also contain single-family, carriage-style, and villa homes.
Of the course, George T. Hyjurick, McKee's VP of Land Development says, "We had originally wanted a nine-hole course but Ian knew the space we had allocated for the course was not large enough. He proposed a fairly new concept - the six-hole course - that ended up being a win-win for both McKee and the homeowners. Not only can we offer an attractive and enjoyable amenity to current and potential community homeowners but also the short and long-term maintenance costs will be much less to the homeowners association than a nine-hole course due to the decision to use synthetic materials for the tees and greens. We estimate that 20 percent of our signed contracts were confirmed due to having this course."
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Scott-Taylor added: "In general, residents of 55-plus communities are savvy and discerning consumers. They expect a certain level of lifestyle and amenities that can be commanded by age-specific neighborhoods. The McKee Group was able to meet those needs at the Foxfield location where land is a premium by committing to build a marketable 'Old World Style' golf course while at the same time keeping the maintenance costs in line with the community's other compelling amenities - the pool and tennis courts."

For details about the development, visit http://www.mckeebuilders.com/foxfield.asp

Tips for Living Green

TIPS FOR LIVING GREEN

1. Turn off your tap. While brushing your teeth, remember to turn off the faucet.

2. Unplug! Pull out cords for cell-phone chargers, microwaves and other "occasional" appliances when not in use. Yes, even your cell phone charge uses up energy when plugged in.

3. Ditch paper napkins. An elegant way to conserve, cloth napkins save both kinds of green (that's money and trees). Wash in cold water and line-dry for bonus points.

4. Stop unwanted catalogues! Go to http://www.greendimes.com/ and they will handle it all for you.

5. Buy local produce. You are supporting the local economy and reducing fuel consumption. It takes a lot of gas to ship fruits and veggies!

6. Try the Method line available at Target. Eco-friendly products are people-friendly products!

7. Turn down the thermostat. Doing so not only conserves fuel and money (even a couple of degrees counts), but studies show it may also help you fall asleep more quickly and have a more restful night once you do.

8. Use Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs.

9. Use a new McKee Grocery tote when shopping. Save any plastic bags you do get for pet cleanup.

10. Recycle and re-use recycled paper.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy 4th!


Happy 4th of July!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Champions Club Clubhouse Opening

Please join us for the opening of the Clubhouse at Champions' Club. This Saturday, June 28 from 11 am to 4 pm.

RSVP:
rsvp@mckeegroup.net
or
484.908.6336

Champions' Club
488 Augusta National Drive
Magnolia, DE 19962

Friday, May 16, 2008

Flooring by Mick Kenney

AdvanTech Flooring

Most of the homes we build here at McKee have at least one wood flooring system. This would be over the basement or crawlspace and loft conditions. For this reason the wood sub flooring we use is very important to us. The product we most like to use is called AdvanTech. AdvanTech is a ¾’’ thick tongue and grove wood panel. It comes in 4x8 sheets. The product is manufactured with resin technology that creates a highly moisture resistant surface. We have found it performs much better than standard plywood or OSB products. Moisture can cause the seams of the wood to swell. This condition would require sanding of seams prior to finish flooring. With AdvanTech this is minimized. The product is also manufactured to be environmentally friendly. They utilize the small, fast growing tree species and use the process waste to fuel their facilities. AdvanTech is manufactured by Huber Engineered Woods. For more information go to http://huberwood.com

Friday, May 9, 2008

Organizing

I am always trying to get organized. Unfortunately, I am really not at all organized although I would love to be. Here are some ideas I have had lately to get organized. Hopefully, sharing them with you will make me actually do it. Whether you are getting your house ready to sell or just moving into your new McKee home, it never hurts to be organized. Ask my fiance.


To begin, craft rooms:


This one is bright and cheery.
This one looks like I could actually pull it off.


And this one is beautiful.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Construction of the Champions' Club clubhouse

The Champions' Club clubhouse is coming along! So exciting! They have even already dug the pool. Mark your calendars - the Grand Opening is June 21st!






Fox Hill Farm

Fox Hill Farm is an active adult community that we are all especially proud of. Located in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, Fox Hill boasts a beautiful clubhouse and truly fabulous people.

The McKee Group broke ground on Fox Hill Farm in 1995. It was one of the first communities like it in this area and it quickly became a keystone project.

The residents of Fox Hill Farm have SO MUCH FUN. Here are just a few of their activities:
Photography Club
Trips to the Mediterranean, Wineries, Cruises
Ceramics
Yoga
Aerobics
Ladies' and Men's Golf Clubs
and my favorite, the ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) Club

The residents have a nicely built and organized website for residents and visitors here:
www.foxhillfarm.org

The Village of Nittany Glen, Foxfield, Spring Arbor and Champions' Club are all well on their way!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Guest Blogger - Natalie Surles

Design Trends for Spring 2008, from Natalie Surles, Design Coordinator at McKee Builders' Delaware communities (Spring Arbor and Foxfield)

Although the temperature has been slow to reflect it, spring is here, and with spring comes new design and color trends. Here are a few of my favorites:

Beach Style
Spring Arbor and Champions’ Club’s close proximity to the Delaware beaches provide residents loads of inspiration for the ‘beach house’ feeling – casual and simple, with pastel patterns and stripes in soft shades of aqua, cream, peach and khaki are perfect for a bathroom or comfortable bedroom retreat. Add seashells or a small piece of driftwood for the perfect finishing touch!

Paint Color
Every season, Sherwin Williams releases several color palettes based on fashion trends. The palette called ‘No Place Like Home’ showcases classic, elegant colors inspired by a desire to balance the old and new. The colors focus on wonderful neutrals, such as Evening Shadow and Fleur De Sel, and earthier colors, such as Bateau Brown and Classic Sand.

Black and White
There is nothing that I love more than the combination of black and white – traditional silhouettes or black and white photographs matted in white and framed in black, or even white kitchen cabinetry and black granite countertops. I think the combination acts as the perfect backdrop for another color, and can be changed from season to season with little effort. My dining room is black and white, with different accent colors for each season – daffodil yellow and spring green for the spring and summer, pumpkin orange and cranberry red for the fall and winter.

Eco-Friendly Style
Bamboo rugs and pillows are more popular than ever with the green design movement. Consumers are trying to use natural colors, textures and materials in their homes. My favorite way of doing this is incorporating bamboo sticks or branches from the yard in floral arrangements.

On a personal note, something that I love to see is the mixing of old and new. I love to see traditional 18th century bedroom furniture with contemporary glass lamps, or a home with a flat-panel television on one wall, with an heirloom quilt on another wall. For some people, the thought of moving their current furnishings into a new state-of-the-art home is overwhelming. It can absolutely be done, and can be stunning!

Happy Spring!

Green, black and white

As promised, here are some green. black and white ideas.




I really like this lamp and mirror both from Target.



Fabric from Calico Corner to consider.

Click here.



Friday, April 11, 2008

McKee Lifestyle

Are you taking full advantage of your McKee Lifestyle? Remember one of the reasons why you purchased a McKee Home - turn the key and go on an adventure! Let Misty inspire you.


Misty of Chincoteague is a classic children's book written by Marguerite Henry about Pony Penning. Once a year (the last Wednesday in July), "salt water cowboys" swim the ponies across the Assateague Channel to Chincoteague for a fair and pony auction on Wednesday and Thursday. If you are up for an adventure that would most certainly be one!

From May 17th to October 11 (make sure to check the website in case any of this changes), take a ride on the Assateague Explorer to see the wild ponies in their natural habitat.

Some resources:

www.assateagueisland.com
National Parks - Assateague Island Information
A story about the swim.

Target Faves

I have a confession to make. I LOVE Target (and Jon and Kate Plus 8 on TLC/Discovery Health, but that is a whole other story).

If I was moving into a new home, these are just some of the things that I might purchase there. Or, I might just buy them anyway.

This nifty white tray table. Summery and useful.



Beautiful and warm.



Love, love, love.



Coming soon - what I like just from their Black, White and Green section.

It's getting warmer!



The weather is getting warmer. I am dedicating this picture of the pool at Foxfield to Summer. You can't get here soon enough.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Guest Blogger - Dianne Muhe

Dianne Muhe is the Selections Coordinator at Foxfield. Not only does she guide our customers through the most fun part of building a new home, but she also has an eye for design that she happily shares to suit everyone's home to their personal style. The entry below is from Dianne. Thanks, Dianne!

Kitchens

Fashion, as well as color schemes, seem to come and go in cycles. How many of us have heard the phrase “if you hold on to it long enough, it will be back in style?” We can see this happening now, especially in the color of kitchen cabinets. Over the last several years, “white and light” dominated the marketplace. Now it seems people are gravitating towards the darker shades of cabinetry. Here at Foxfield, more and more people are choosing the richer shades of cherry wood like spice and chocolate for their cabinets and pairing it up with a natural granite for a warm, inviting look. Off setting this combination with stainless steel appliances gives the kitchen a state-of-the-art look. Of course, for our residents who like the light and airy look we still offer a nice selection of the more neutral shades. Remember, your home should reflect your style and taste and we are here to guide you through that process.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Real Estate Radio

If you are thinking of buying a home, or just want to add some education to your Sunday morning coffee and pancakes, don't forget to listen to Jay Lamont, Philadelphia Real Estate guru.

For more information, click here. The show is called All About Real Estate and it airs Sunday mornings at 10 am on 950 am.

Innovation, the All-Natural Motivation

Here at The McKee Group we put a lot of stock into Innovation. We have a committee called the Bright Ideas committee which encourages and vets employee submissions of innovative ideas. Their slogan is: "Innovation, the All-Natural Motivation."

Some recent suggestions have been a Business Retreat for Administrative Assistants and a Friends and Family Discount Program on New Homes.

I think it's pretty neat!

Monday, March 17, 2008

National 50+ Housing Awards

This week I will be judging the National 50+ Housing awards at the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) headquarters in DC.


Last year we won three of these awards and traveled to Denver to accept them. From left to right is me, my dad, Frank McKee, and Perry DeSiato, V.P. of Sales and Marketing accepting the awards for Foxfield of Best Overall Community (Mid-size), Best Model (the Booth ) and Best Logo.

It is exciting to be on the other side of the judging. A lot less stressful!

The awards will be given out at the 50+ Housing Symposium in New Orleans.

Happy St. Patrick's Day from our family to yours

Happy St. Patrick's Day from The McKee Group!


Bless This House

Bless this house, o Lord, we pray.
Make it safe by night and day.
Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out.
Bless the roof and chimney tall,
Let thy peace lie over all.
Bless the doors that they may prove
Ever open to joy and love.
Bless the windows shining bright,
Letting in God's heavenly light.
Bless the hearth a-blazing there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer.
Bless the people here within...
Keep them pure and free from sin.
Bless us all, that one day, we
May be fit, O lord, to dwell with Thee.

Windows - from Mick Kenney

Whenever time permits, we at The McKee Group like to visit the production facilities for the products we purchase. We recently toured the Simonton Window Plant in Parkersburg West Virginia.
The Simonton Brick Mould 300 single hung is the McKee standard window. This window contains Low – E glass( low emissivity). Low E glass admits the full spectrum of sunlight but blocks radiant heat from escaping. This results in energy savings for the homeowner and a more comfortable living atmosphere. The glass is also filled with Argon gas. The Argon helps to further insulate the window glass.
One thing we learned that sets Simonton Windows apart from the competitors is they are voluntarily enrolled in the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) Certification Program. AAMA has developed a strict set of guidelines that must be met to obtain the AAMA Gold certification that our windows have. These tests include water and air infiltration, structural stability and operation.
The 300 series window is also available with the double hung option. For more information on Simonton Windows go to www.simonton.com.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Collectibles and downsizing

We get SO many questions at The McKee Group about downsizing. People have many different reasons to downsize: one-floor living, smaller carbon footprint, travel, maintenance, health...I, myself, live in a 1,300 square foot home with my fiance.

You have amassed treasures that you are loathe to get rid of and we understand. So, what do you do about your collectibles?

How about swapping them in and out just like you might do with holiday decorations? I have one beautiful shelf in my downstairs powder room that is about 12 inches wide and 5 inches deep. It holds three collections! Sort of. I display one Hummel figurine, 2 Beatrix Potter figurines and 3 pieces from a nativity sceme made out of bread that friends brough back from a trip the the Dominican Republic. I rotate the pieces so that when visitors go into the powder room, it's always new.

The other thing I do is add interest to bookshelves with collectibles and photographs. I will take some pictures over the weekend and post them on Monday.

Housewarming


Here's a neat party idea: Custom M & M's!




You can put whatever (short) phrases you want, pick colors and packaging! A great gift for the person who has everything, favor for a party or an anytime for fun kind of thing.


I tried the following combinations: TGIF (because it is Friday); McKee Group & Spring Arbor; Happy 80th and Grandmom (for my Grandmother); Thanks Boss & For the Raise (because it seemed useful); and, Club house & CC 2008.


Fun!

Scrabulous is Fabulous

I urge everyone to sign up for a Facebook account - if only to play Scrabulous!

Facebook is a social networking site a la MySpace and Friendster. Log on and either get a friend to log on too, or find a friend already on it. Add the Scrabulous application and play away. If you like Scrabble, it's a fun way to stay in touch with friends and beat them at board games!

Google Search - What to look for in a new home...

The National Association of Homebuilders is a tremendous resource for builders large and small. What many don't know is that they are also a resource for homebuyers.

Check out their website at http://www.nahb.org/

For a sneak peek, read their guide to buying a home.
____________________________________________________

Guide to Buying a Home

If you are thinking of buying a new home, you must pay close attention to many details to ensure that you find one that will suit your needs and preferences. Before you start shopping, you should sit down with the members of your household to discuss your preferences and the many options available to you. Here are some things you should consider:

Financing
How much can you afford? Visit ourFinancing Your Home section for resources and tools to help you learn about mortgages, obtaining financing, insurance and other useful information.

Features
An easy way to organize your thoughts is to write each separate feature that you want on a 3X5 card, and arrange the cards in order of their importance to you. For instance, if you like to cook, you may want a home with a large, well-equipped kitchen. Or you may settle for a small kitchen, so that you can have extra space for a library, office, or computer room. Some home buyers seek large, open interior spaces, while others prefer traditional rooms that afford more privacy. Some choose homes with large yards. Others opt for condominiums where they can avoid yard maintenance entirely.
While looking for a home, consider whether your needs are likely to change over time. If you plan to add rooms, find out if there is enough space on your site for such expansion and whether such additions are permitted by your local jurisdiction.

Management
Options include single-family homes, condominiums or cooperatives. With a single-family home in a development, you'll be responsible for your own yard and home, but may be restricted to certain design elements or other regulations if there is a home owners association.
A condominium is a home in a multi-unit complex, such as an apartment building or a townhouse cluster. You own the home, and you and your neighbors jointly own the common elements, such as the land around the complex, the parking areas, building exteriors, hallways, utility pipes and recreational facilities. A condominium owners association is responsible for maintaining the jointly owned elements. The day-to-day business of the complex is generally handled by a managing agency.
The owner of each condominium unit has a vote in the affairs of the community. Each owner pays a fee to cover the operating expenses of the property and usually contributes to a reserve fund for replacements (such as a new roof) or improvements (such as decorative landscaping to improve the value of the property). Changes and improvements to the complex may be made only as you and your co-owners desire. You are responsible for maintaining the interior of your condominium unit. Typically, you will not have to perform outdoor chores.
Cooperatives offer lifestyles similar to condominiums, but rather than owning your unit, you own shares of the stock of the complex. Stock owners are jointly liable for the cooperative's debts.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pickleball!

Pickleball has become very popular in some of our communities. Check it out here: www.pickleball.com and here: www.usapa.org

The original purpose of the game was to provide a sport for the entire family, according to co-inventors U.S. Congressman Joel Pritchard, William Bell, and Barney McCallum.

How did Pickleball get it's name?
Pickles was the family dog that would chase after the errant balls and then hide in the bushes, thus Pickle's ball which was later shortened to the namesake of Pickleball.

Eons

Check out this great website: www.eons.com

It is a networking website focused on baby Boomers from across the country. It is pretty neat.

Concrete in the Winter, from Mick Kenney


"A question or concern we often hear from our Buyers: How will building in the winter affect our home’s quality? Most of the concern relates to concrete. There are a few steps we take to ensure that concrete is placed correctly.

The most important thing to remember is that concrete must maintain a temperature of 55 degrees for the first 24 hours after it is placed. This temperature is necessary to allow the chemical reaction between the cement and the water to take place. In order to make sure we can achieve 55 degrees, we do not place concrete unless the outside temperature is 36 degrees and rising. We also watch for severe nighttime lows. If it is too cold, we don’t pour.

Another step we take is admixtures. Add mixtures are chemicals added to the concrete at the plant that either speed up or slow down the hydration process. In the winter we want to speed it up. This is done by using hot water in the mix and often changing the cement to Type III Hi- Early cement.

Another important step is protecting the concrete after it has been poured. This is done with specifically designed concrete blankets. These blankets will be placed over foundation walls and flatwork after pour is complete and left in place over night and sometimes longer.

Something else to consider in the winter is allowing the concrete more time than normal to cure prior to backfilling a foundation or adding weight bearing to a slab."

Thanks, Mick!

An interesting Philly magazine article

http://www.phillymag.com/articles/everything_you_know_about_philly_real_estate_is_wrong/

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Volunteer from home or with friends

I wanted to make sure you were all aware of a non-profit that I have worked with named Project Linus. Project Linus is a national non-profit whose mission is to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.” Check out the Project Linus website here.

All styles of blankets are welcome, including quilts, tied comforters, fleece blankets, crocheted or knitted afghans, and receiving blankets in child-friendly colors as long as they are new and handmade. "Blanketeers" can be from all skill levels. This could be a great project for winter Sundays at home or even small groups in a circle. This can even be a neat group activity for children or other artistic types. Simply provide the same size muslin squares and fabric markers. Ask folks to draw on tehir squares and then all of the squares can be put together to make a security "quilt."

Health At Any Age

A few years ago I committed to a healthier lifestyle and for the most part have been able to incorporate healthy activities into my everyday life.


Friends, a couple of trusted resources and an exercise regime that worked for me helped me do it. Sharing my goals with friends who had already gotten healthy was helpful and inspiring. They turned me on to healthy, low-cal foods, offered to take walks and were there at parties to make sure I didn't let the celebration get to me and eat too much! I even started a healthy eating lunch group that met once a week with our bagged lunches. Ultimately, I also joined a workplace Weight Watchers group, but I was happier in the more spontaneous lunch group where we discussed health minimally, and gossip majorly!


Two resources that helped greatly were Eat, Drink and Be Healthy by Walter Willett and a fun, informative website called Hungry Girl (I do not see why it couldn't be for men, too!).

Walter Willett is a Harvard professor who redid the Food Pyramid. His focus is on eating for health. He also came out with a more traditional weight-loss book a couple of years ago that I also like. Buy them on Amazon here and here.

Hungry Girl is a fun website with tips and tricks, polls and reviews. I highly recommend!

Healthy eating and exercise turned things around for me. I hated exercising before and I hate exercising now! BUT, I found a gym with individual TV's on each cardio machine and that reduces the pain.

Clubhouses found in many active adult communities are a perfect spot for a healthy lifestyle. They usually offer a fitness center AND places to gather for a healthy bagged lunch and support.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I would love to introduce you to the Americana Series. Created to recall a time of sitting on porches and Fridays at the neighbors, the Americana Series are true ranch homes. These homes are our newest designs and have been a cause of great excitement here at the McKee Group. It's been "all hands on deck" to get these homes exactly right and the result is unmistakable. These homes live large in a beautifully designed floor plan in a small space.

At 1,324 square feet, the Charleston model offers:

Covered front porch; large great room; designer kitchen with a peninsula breakfast bar; private master suite with tray ceiling, two walk in closets and private bath; large second bedroom; two storage areas (including one heated); and, an oversized garage with additional storage space. Click here to see floor plans.


At 1,477 square feet, the Savannah model features:


Covered front porch; large great room; designer kitchen with an island breakfast bar and optional desk; private master suite with tray ceiling, two walk in closets and private bath; large second bedroom with option to convert to study; two storage areas (including one heated); oversized garage with additional storage space. Click here to see floor plans.


The Americana Series is available at Champions' Club.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Selling Your Home, Part 3: Preparing Your Home

De-Personalize the House

Removing personal items is a very important step in painting a picture for potential buyers. This might seem strange since it means removing things like family pictures, sports trophies and collectible items. It really is best to pack them up and put them in storage.

Remove Clutter

EVERYTHING that is not regularly used needs to go into storage. This can be a difficult thing for you to realize since clutter does not necessarily mean junk, but years of everyday living. Clutter does collect on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets, garages, basements and attics. Your goal is to showcase your home and emphasize spaces and designs. ALL areas need to be clutter free. Don’t forget knick knacks!

Fixtures and Plumbing - Plumbing and fixtures throughout your house should be shiny and work properly.

Painting and Wall/Ceiling Repairs - Painting can be your best investment when selling a home. It’s not too expensive and often can be done yourself. White and off-white appeal to the widest number of buyers, while expanding spaces. In many cases, it’s better to remove drapes and let the light come in!

Carpets and Flooring - Have carpets professionally cleaned and all stains removed. Repair or replace broken tiles and hardwood floor cracks.

House Odors

If you smoke, anyone entering your home will know immediately. If you follow our suggestions on painting, carpet cleaning and a professional service for a one time clean, then the majority of smoke odor has been removed. Pets also create odors that you have become used to, but are very noticeable. Keep the kitty litter box clean and sprinkle carpet freshener on rugs.

Selling Your Home, Part 2: Listing Your Home

Most of us think we know what our house is worth, but do we really? A professional appraiser can determine the proper value for your home. If you list your home at the appraised value or very close to it, you will eliminate a lot of the competition. Homes priced right are the first to sell in any neighborhood!
A more traditional way of determining value is to ask your realtor to perform a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA). Have two to three Realtors perform a CMA and give you a presentation on how they will market your home.
This is extremely important for several reasons:
· A home priced right sells quickly
· It generally gives you the highest net dollars
· Relieves you of the stress of selling
· Frees up your time to purchase your new home

Selling Your Home, Part 1: Hiring Professionals

In today’s volatile market, it takes professional experience and tools to most effectively sell a home. From inspection and appraisal to marketing and closing the deal, professionals can sell your home for more and save you time and stress to concentrate on your new home purchase!

Appraiser
A Certified Independent Appraisal Company performs a full appraisal of your home to indicate its market value. This is the same type of appraisal done for banks and mortgage companies. This report will substantiate current market conditions and home value, saving you a great deal of time on the market place in finding a buyer.

Realtor
Choosing a realtor is perhaps the most important decision you can make when selling your home. A few tips :
· When interviewing potential Realtors, ask each the same set of questions so that you can compare their answers
· Better to not choose a friend or family member to market your home
· Check referrals and others in your neighborhood who have used the Realtors’ services
· Do not tell the Realtor what you think your home is worth - rather ask them to tell you what they think its worth
· Have all marketing plans for selling your home put in writing
· Always use a Realtor that is a member of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

Inspector
A licensed home inspector will inspect your home thoroughly in much the same way that any potential buyer will do. Identifying and fixing problem areas can make your home more attractive and prevent possible pitfalls in the negotiation process.

Foxfield decor


For those of you building your fox collections at Foxfield, check out Horse and Hound. I particularly like the following, all from Horse and Hound, a needlepoint pillow, letter holder, stained glass artwork and coktail napkins.




Foxfield

In case you haven't heard, Foxfield has won some major awards recently. We won three Best of 50+ Housing awards, including silver awards for Best Overall Community and Best Model (the Booth). Pretty exciting!

Four-legged Friends

In honor of our four-legged friends, here are some cool products to help them meet their new neighbors.



Stash your leashes on these cute puppy dog tail hooks from Ikea.



I like the anti-slip material on this food and water dish also from Ikea.


Finally, I couldn't resist sharing this Jeff Gordon doggy wear for all of you race fans living at Champions' Club!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Champions' Club

Check out...

Located in Magnolia, Delaware, Champions' Club is just 7 miles from Dover, Delaware. Residents of Delaware enjoy low taxes and in a McKee community that translates into the financial freedom to spend on YOU! Put in the gourmet kitchen you have always dreamed of, go on a safari with a loved one, take flying lessons! With the extra cash in your pockets and time on your hands, thanks to our maintenance-free living, it is YOUR time to shine!

To learn more about Champions' Club, click here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Grandchildren in New House



It occurs to me that the first time your grandchildren/nieces/nephews visit your new home, you are thrilled, but also possibly anxious about your freshly painted walls!

Consider this Melissa and Doug easel from Olliebollen on sale for $29.95. It looks sturdy, cute and will keep the crayons off of your walls.

Welcome to Our Blog!

We thought we would try blogging...

With a blog, our customers can learn more about The McKee Group and stay conected before, during and after their home's construction. For the most part you will hear from me, Jennifer McKee, Director of Communications. I will routinely ask others from the company to guest blog.

For now, I intend to blog about a large variety of topics. We could cover everything from selling your house and downsizing to decorating a room for grandchildren and the newest restaurant opening in Garnet Valley. I will ask some of our construction professionals to guest blog as well so that our readers can learn more about the building of a McKee home.

Thanks for reading!