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Choosing a Mortgage Lender

House for sale in Prosper, TX

Buying a new home is a massive investment, and most of us need a mortgage to make it happen. But not all mortgages are created equal; different mortgage lenders offer different things.

Choosing a mortgage lender that you’re comfortable with is just as crucial as finding one that offers a competitive interest rate. If you’re not sure how to find the best mortgage lender for you, the information below will help guide you through the process.

Types of Mortgage Lenders

There are several different types of companies that offer home loans. So, finding a mortgage lender that works for you and your financial situation starts with choosing the right kind.

Retail/Conventional Banks

Retail or conventional banks, like Wells Fargo or Chase Bank, offer mortgages directly to consumers. They also provide other products like savings accounts, personal loans, and auto loans.

They tend to have the most stringent underwriting terms, but many choose them because they already have a relationship with the bank through a savings or checking account. Retail banks also tend to offer a loan process handled in-person rather than online, which makes many mortgage seekers more comfortable.

Credit Unions

Credit unions are like retail banks in that they offer a variety of products and services. However, you must be a member of the credit union to use them.

Joining a credit union usually requires you to share a “common bond” with its other members. This bond could be as simple as living in the same geographical area, or it could be more specific, such as being a military veteran.

Many choose credit unions because they offer member-only deals and provide the same hands-on, personalized service you’d receive at a traditional bank.

Mortgage Brokers

A mortgage broker doesn’t underwrite your mortgage, but they can help you find a lender that will at the best available rate. These 3rd-party intermediaries collect your mortgage application and any other supporting documents; then, they shop mortgage lenders on your behalf.

If you use a mortgage broker, you should ask how many lenders they shop before presenting you with quotes; be sure to get a list of their fees and when they collect them, as well.

Non-Bank Mortgage Lenders (AKA Online Lenders)

Thanks to the internet, non-bank mortgage lenders like Quicken Loans and Loan Depot are growing in popularity. They’re fast and easy to use. Plus, they’re more likely to work with you if you have credit issues.

However, they intimidate many customers who want more personalized service. When the process is entirely online, you may have to dig to find answers to your questions.

What to Look for in a Mortgage Lender

Whether you want to use a broker, a traditional bank, or an online lender, there are several factors to consider when choosing a home loan lender. Remember, if the loan originator is also your loan servicer, you could be in a relationship with them for several decades.

Even if the originator and servicer aren’t the same, it’s vital to consider more than the interest rate, though that’s important too. Below, we outline a few simple steps for choosing a mortgage lender.

How to Choose a Mortgage Lender

When choosing a mortgage lender, be prepared to do some research. Compare interest rates for common loan types, including fixed-rate loans, adjustable loans, and hybrid-adjustable options.

Your interest rate will be determined by several factors, including your credit score and the terms of the loan. You can use an online mortgage calculator to get an idea of what your payment might be. You can change factors such as the loan amount, interest rate, down payment, and term and see how the various combinations affect your monthly obligation.

Be sure you ask each home loan lender about down payment requirements. Many institutions require 20% down, and if you can’t afford that, you will be required to purchase mortgage insurance. If that’s you, it’s essential to factor this cost into your monthly payment budget or look for a more flexible lending option.

Finally, consider the loan terms you’re looking for. Short-term loans have high payments but lower interest rates. Long-term loans allow for more affordable payments but have somewhat higher interest rates.

Questions to Ask Potential Lenders

Once you narrow down your home loan lender search to a few top candidates, ask them the following questions.

  • Who is my main contact person, and how do I reach them?

Your contact person may change once your loan reaches the underwriting process, so knowing the answer to this will be helpful after you submit your application.

  • How much of the process is online vs. in-person?

If a lot of the process is online, there may be fewer fees, but it’s also harder to ask questions or negotiate terms.

  • What fees am I responsible for?

Ask about origination fees, commission, appraisal fees, and credit report fees. Also, ask about discount points, which are up-front fees that can lower the interest rate of your loan.

  • What’s the length of the closing process, and is it possible to expedite it?

Asking about the closing process and whether you can use pre-approval to expedite it will help you know what to expect after finding the house you love.

  • How long of an interest rate lock do you recommend? If closing doesn’t take place in that time frame, what’s the cost of an extension?

Interest rate locks are usually put into place by the lender to hold the interest rate while you’re in the closing process. That way, your interest rate doesn’t increase between accepting the loan and closing on a home.

Many mortgage lenders add extension fees if the closing process isn’t complete in a specified time. Sometimes these fees are high, so ensuring you have a cushion on your interest rate lock time is crucial.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a mortgage lender is a significant decision on your homebuying journey. Everyone wants a competitive interest rate and low closing costs, but other criteria such as time to close and comfort with your lender are also important. Finding a home lender is really about balancing all of these factors until you reach the sweet spot that is just right for your needs.

If you’re ready to buy a home in North Texas, take a look at Lilyana by Hillwood. Our beautiful, master-planned community in Celina, TX has new construction homes and is located within the acclaimed Prosper ISD. Lilyana has an array of fabulous amenities for homeowners to enjoy including a resort-style pool with an outdoor pavilion and kitchen, a catch-and-release fishing pond, and miles of walking trails. See our community for yourself, either in person or with a virtual tour. We’re happy to walk you through the homebuying process, so you can find the home you’ve been dreaming of.

10 Benefits of an Outdoor Kitchen the Whole Family Will Enjoy

If you’re wondering, “What is an outdoor kitchen and why would I use one?” you’ve come to the right place. An outdoor kitchen offers a fun new way of cooking and enjoying nature at the same time by placing the conveniences of an indoor kitchen in a beautiful outdoor setting.

The concept of a kitchen outside the house has become increasingly popular since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which encouraged social distancing and made outdoors the only option for people to meet friends and family. However, outdoor living spaces were already in demand before the pandemic, especially in warmer climates, like Texas and other southern states. People love the option to connect with the natural world and spend time socializing outdoors.

An outdoor kitchen area can be customized in almost any way you desire. Whether you want a sink outdoors for easy cleanup or are interested in ramping up your barbecue capabilities with a smoker, you can decide precisely what your exterior kitchen will have.

Read on to discover the key benefits of outdoor cooking spaces.

1. Simplify Meal Preparation

A kitchen outside the house offers more room. This makes it easier to collaborate and have multiple cooks at work at once without people getting in one another’s way. Plus, guests can help themselves—for example, to grab a drink from the fridge—without interrupting the chef.

2. Enjoy Healthier Meal Options

Having a kitchen outdoors expands your meal options. For example, you can incorporate a barbecue—something you can’t do indoors since you should never grill in enclosed spaces.

This paves the way for a more diverse and healthier selection of food options since grilled foods tend to be lower in fat. Grilled meat, in particular, is lower in calories.

3. Keep Food Smells Outdoors

The smell of a fresh-cooked meal can be tempting—before you eat it. Once you’re finished with your food, you probably don’t want lingering odors around you. With outdoor kitchen cooking, you leave the savory scents outside. This is especially useful for more pungent dishes like fish and garlic.

4. Cut Energy Costs & Keep the Cool Air Inside

Whether you’re using an oven, a stove, or a toaster, cooking generates heat. This can force your air conditioning system to work harder when it’s already warm out, pushing up your utility bills. When you prepare your food outside, this is not a concern.

Plus, if you bring your entire eating and dining area outside, you don’t have to keep opening and closing your door. In contrast, if you’re barbecuing outside, you’ll likely have to go in and out repeatedly, letting cooled air escape each time. With a kitchen outdoors, this isn’t an issue.

5. Spend More Time Outdoors

When you move your meal preparation outside, the entire family will spend more time in nature. This is excellent news for your health, as research shows that spending time in green spaces can improve mental health, alleviate stress, and improve blood pressure. Adults and children alike will benefit.

6. Encourage Physical Activity

Spending time outside also opens up the opportunity for other health-enhancing activities. Residents of Lilyana by Hillwood can prepare a meal at the community’s outdoor pavilion and kitchen while their kids enjoy the adjacent green spaces for a game of pickup soccer, frisbee, or tag.  And the gorgeous, resort-style pool is just steps away.

7. Expand Usable Living Space

A well-designed outdoor kitchen cooking space that also includes a dining spot significantly expands the usable space on your property. It’s like adding another room to the house—the room just happens to be outside.

You can enhance your exterior kitchen’s usability by housing it under a gazebo or pavilion. That way, even if it rains, you can use it.

8. Ramp Up Home Value

Boosting the amount of usable space on a property is a surefire way to increase its value. This is especially true for an outdoor kitchen, given how in-demand they have become. You can expect a return in investment of anywhere from 55% to 200%. If you ever sell your home, this will be a big boon.

9. It’s Fantastic for Entertaining

One of life’s greatest joys is enjoying a good meal with friends and family. A kitchen outside the house with an adjacent dining area gives you another venue to do this. Plus, the chef won’t feel excluded with everyone sitting nearby. It’s an innovative and fun way to entertain.

10. Save Money on Dining Out

What is an outdoor kitchen? It’s more than an outdoor cooking space. Add some twinkly lights or candles, and you can create your very own restaurant just steps from the house. Having this lovely space for dining can make going out to eat less appealing and save you money on restaurant expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, you’ve now got a clear answer to your initial query, “What is an outdoor kitchen?” If you still have questions about this topic, our FAQ section has you covered.

Can You Use a Regular Grill in an Outdoor Kitchen?
An outdoor cooking space can be tailored to your requirements. It’s possible to incorporate an outdoor grill into your exterior kitchen, if desired.

How Do I Protect My Outdoor Kitchen from the Weather?
Outdoor kitchens are generally designed with coverings to protect them from the weather. For example, the kitchen may be housed in a gazebo or under a pavilion.

Can You Put a Grill Next to the House?
If you incorporate a grill into your outdoor kitchen area, make sure it isn’t too close to the house which is a fire hazard.

How Far from the House Should the Grill Be?
Make sure to leave at least three feet of space between your grill and the sides of your house for fire safety.

Experience a Kitchen Outdoors at Lilyana

Want to experience the benefits of outdoor kitchen cooking for yourself? Take a virtual tour of Lilyana by Hillwood and see all our beautiful amenities including our outdoor pavilion and kitchen which residents can use year-round. Contact us for more information about our master-planned community in Celina, TX, within Prosper ISD.

Is a One-Story or a Two-Story Home Better for You?

Choosing between a one-story and a two-story home can be challenging. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Your decision will come down to your family and your needs.

Read on to figure out which home is best for you.

Advantages of a One-Story Home

There are both pros and cons of a one-story house. Some of the pros include:

  • More usable living space
  • More affordable to heat and cool
  • Better for aging in place
  • Safer for children & older folks
  • Easier to add square footage in the future

Living Space

One of the biggest advantages when it comes to a one-story vs two-story house is more usable living space. You won’t lose space to staircases and you can truly maximize your square footage by minimizing hallways. One-story homes also tend to feel more expansive, especially if you have an open floor plan.

Lower Heating & Cooling Bills

Because heat rises, it’s more difficult to cool the second floor of a two-story home. One-story homes tend to be less expensive to heat and cool overall.

Safety & Aging in Place

Staircases can be dangerous and difficult for both the elderly and small children. Climbing a staircase can be difficult for those who suffer from arthritis or other health issues. And even if you have no problem climbing stairs now, that may change later. A one-story home will be easier to navigate into your golden years.

For families with young children, there are a few considerations. First, stairs can be dangerous for little kids who aren’t steady on their feet. Even older kids can fall if they’re running up and down the stairs several times a day.

If the main bedroom is on the first floor and the children’s rooms are on the second floor, you’ll also want to consider that you’ll be a floor away from your kids at night. If you have a baby, you may be carrying the baby up and down the stairs several times a day.

Finally, while nobody wants to think about the possibility, single-story homes are easier to evacuate than two-story houses in the event of a fire.

Potential for Adding on

If you plan on adding square footage to your house in the future, it’s much easier to do with one story. You can just extend your roofline as much as you need. With a two-story home, it gets much more complicated and expensive.

Disadvantages of a One-Story House

Now that we know the pros, realize there are also some cons to a one-story vs a two-story house.

These include:

  • More expensive to build
  • A larger footprint and therefore a smaller yard
  • Less privacy

Higher Cost

In most cases, when it comes to the cost of a one-story vs a two-story house, it’s more expensive to build a one-story house. A home’s foundation and its roof are typically two of the more expensive line items and both of these will cost more in a one-story home versus a two-story home. Your plumbing and electrical systems will also require longer runs, which will make costs higher.

Since a one-story house has a bigger footprint, you may need a bigger lot, which will cost more as well.

Larger Footprint

While it’s easier to add on to a one-story house, you’re going to have a larger footprint. If you don’t opt for that larger, more expensive lot, you’ll have less yard space.

Less Privacy

All the windows of a one-story home are at street level, meaning that passersby can see into your home. Rooms on the upper floor of a two-story home have some measure of privacy based solely on their distance from the ground.

In a one-story home, public and private spaces are all on the same level, which may be inconvenient if you have young children and want to entertain guests after bedtime. Depending on your floor plan, you may have guests walking through bedrooms to use your bathroom which isn’t ideal.

Advantages of a Two-Story House

Two-story homes are popular. Here are a few reasons why people love two-story homes:

  • Lower building costs
  • More outdoor space and better views from inside
  • Privacy

Lower Cost

Two-story homes are typically cheaper to build. They have less foundation to pour and less pipe to run, which means you’ll most likely save on materials.

Outdoor Space & Views

Two-story homes have larger outdoor spaces. You’ll have a smaller footprint, which means a bigger yard. Two-story homes work well on narrower lots that won’t always accommodate a one-story home.

Since you have a second story, you’ll also have better views. You can often see out and appreciate the nature around you, whereas with a one-story home, you’ll be at eye-level with your neighbors’ homes.

More Privacy

If you prefer a house with separate living and entertainment spaces, a two-story may be right for you. You can have all of the bedrooms upstairs if you want privacy. This way the windows are not at street level and there’s less of a chance of someone looking in while walking or driving by.

If you have older kids or teens, you may enjoy the separation that a two-story home can offer. You can have the main bedroom on the bottom floor and put your kids rooms upstairs.

Disadvantages of a Two-Story Home

When considering the pros of a two-story house, there are also some cons to consider:

  • Safety issues
  • Less usable square footage
  • Longer build time

Safety Concerns

Stairs can pose a safety hazard, especially to the elderly or children. You may want to consider a staircase with a landing. If you have small children, you’ll need to use a gate to keep them protected.

Stairs Take Up Space

Not only are stairs dangerous, but they also take up a lot of space. If you’re working with less square footage, you may not be willing to give up some of it on stairs.

Longer Build

Two-story homes typically take longer to build. If it’s imperative that you get into your home as quickly as possible, you may want to consider one story.

Is a One- or Two-Story Home Better for You?

If it comes down to if it’s cheaper to build one-story or two-story houses, a two-story home will be less expensive to build but more expensive to maintain and expand. It’s not really the best strategy to let cost be the primary determining factor, though.

When you’re deciding between a one-story vs a two-story house, consider everything. Do you like the look of one- or two-story homes better? How long will you stay in the home? How large of a yard do you want? What are your privacy requirements? Consider how you will use your home, who will live there with you, and what features are most important to you before you decide.

A master-planned community like Lilyana by Hillwood offers both one- and two-story homes in a range of prices and styles! Plus we have a variety of amenities that homeowners love. Take a virtual tour of Lilyana and contact us today to discuss your dream home!

4 Reasons to Move to Collin County, Texas

Relocating to a new area can be quite overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to choose the right city for you and your family. If your next move is to the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area, the growing cities in Collin County, Texas should be at the top of your list.

Where Is Collin County, Texas?

You may be wondering where Collin County is. Collin County, TX, is situated in the northern part of the state, just south (about 30 miles) of the Red River. The county seat, McKinney, is less than 35 miles northeast of Dallas. As a part of the DFW metroplex area, Collin County is an ideal choice for people who are looking for access to all that DFW has to offer while still enjoying the benefits of a smaller city.

Collin County, TX, is one of the fastest-growing counties, not just in Texas but in the entire nation! The county had more than 1 million residents in 2018, and an estimated 80 people a day move to Collin County. The Collin County area includes fantastic cities such as Frisco, Plano, Celina, Prosper, Melissa, and many others. Consider these notable Collin County demographics:

  • There is a female-to-male ratio of 51 percent to 49 percent.
  • The median age of residents is 37.3 years.
  • More than 93 percent of the residents have completed high school, and 52 percent of them have acquired a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • The average household income is approximately $118,000.

Now that you have a snapshot of Collin County, let’s take a look at a few reasons that the county is the best place to call home.

1. Employment Opportunities

Collin County’s tax rate of .208395 per $100 of assessed value has remained the same for more than 20 years, making it an attractive location for large corporations, small businesses, and startups alike. The area is home to Toyota, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, Texas Instruments, NTT Data International, JP Morgan/Chase, FedEx, and Frito Lay, to name a few. The area is home to many innovative mixed-use projects and is expected to provide over 1.16 million job opportunities by 2054.

2. Housing

Along with all that business growth comes a bustling housing market. Collin County, TX is home to the number one place to live in the country, Frisco. It also offers a number of smaller cities where residents enjoy the benefits of small-town living just minutes from the excitement of the big city. There are many affordable options for those who want to own a piece of land in the country and those buyers who are seeking the vast array of amenities that master-planned communities can provide. Collin County offers an unmatchable blend of affordable and high-end neighborhoods featuring historical and newly built homes in urban and rural settings. You’re sure to find your forever home here.

3. Educational Opportunities

Collin County has the highest concentration of top-ranked schools in the state. It is home to 267 public schools and 108 private schools, as well as Collin College. According to the Public-School Review, Collin County, TX, public schools average math proficiency scores of 68 percent compared to the state average of 48 percent and reading proficiency scores of 65 percent compared to a statewide average of 45 percent. The county’s schools rank in the top 1 percent of Texas public schools. High-quality education is one of the main reasons families are choosing to move to Collin County.

4. Quality of Life and Things to Do

You’ll never run out of fun things to do in Collin County. Outdoor recreational opportunities are plentiful, and the county has numerous public parks, lakes, and natural areas for hiking and biking. Several professional sports teams have practice venues and stadiums in Collin County including the Dallas Cowboys, FC Dallas, the Dallas Stars, and the Frisco Rough Riders. There are also small-town farmers’ markets, a wide range of year-round cultural and community activities, and a slate of seasonal events and festivals including the Celina Cajun Fest, the Wildflower Festival, and the Anna Glowfest. And of course, there are fantastic shopping, dining, and entertainment options throughout the county and in nearby Dallas. 

Visit Lilyana by Hillwood

If you’ve decided Collin County, Texas is for you, take a look at Lilyana by Hillwood. Our 400-acre wooded master-planned community in picturesque Celina offers homesites for those seeking a tranquil life in a beautiful, natural setting, within minutes of the bustling city of Frisco. Our holistic approach to neighborhood design helps develop a community rooted in shared values, connection, and stewardship. We think you’ll find Lilyana is the perfect place to call home. Take a virtual tour or contact us to learn more.

Benefits of Buying a Home in a Small Town

Lilyana is in the small town of Celina Texas

One of the best parts of our great country is its friendly small towns. No matter where you live or what state you come from, you have likely experienced small-town charm and hospitality at some point in your life. The NCES classifies small towns as an incorporated area of 25,000 residents or less, meaning that many of our country’s most charming areas are considered small towns.

Despite this average, most small towns have around 6,000 residents, meaning that there is a real range of population sizes for U.S. small towns. Many people love small-town life for a variety of reasons, and there are certainly small-town advantages. Living in a small town means less traffic, lower crime rates, and a more relaxed way of life. For many, the pros of living in a small town far outweigh any negatives, which is why thousands of people are dropping their big city, stressed-out lifestyles for the joys of small-town life.

So why is it better to live in a small town? Let’s find out.

Close to Nature

One of the main advantages of living in a small town is increased time spent outdoors. Many small towns are located in areas with significant wildlife and open spaces. This extra green space and fresh air can improve mental health, and often inspires residents to get outside and do something active, as well. Living close to nature is one of the biggest benefits of living in a small town.

Affordability

Another of the advantages of living in a small town is affordability. According to Wealth Meta, prices on just about everything, from groceries to insurance to basic services are often cheaper in small towns. Additionally, in a small town, you may find that you can afford more home than you can in the city. Property tax rates are usually lower in smaller towns, too. This means you can create a home to your exact specifications and save in many other areas. Greater affordability is definitely one of the pros of living in a small town.

Safety

When talking about the benefits of living in a small town, one of the major topics of conversation is safety. As you may assume, crime rates are much higher in metropolitan or urban areas, where there are many more people. The number of violent crimes per 100,000 people in cities with populations of 500,000 or more is roughly double that of cities where the population is 100,000 or less.

The farther you move away from a large city, the more the crime rates go down. This is one of the small-town living benefits for families, as you are more likely to feel comfortable leaving your children unsupervised outdoors than you would be in a large urban area.

Community

One of the best reasons to live in a small town is the friendliness they are known for. Small towns often have a greater sense of community than big cities. Urban environments can create an atmosphere of stress and overachievement, which leaves little time for community bonding. What’s more, massive populations in cities make it easier to feel anonymous and harder to get to know those around you. In small towns, your neighbors are more likely to stop and say hello, and you can easily get to know others in your area. Small towns often have community events as well, which is a great way to bond with your neighbors. Community is at the top of the list of good things about small towns.

What It’s Like to Live in a Small Town

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to live in a small town. Living in a small town sets the scene for relaxation and family togetherness. Without the long commutes that are common in the city, your family will have more time to spend together at home. With more natural green spaces, you’ll likely find yourself spending more time outside enjoying nature, which is good for the mind and body.

Explore Lilyana By Hillwood

If the small-town life is calling your name, contact us at Lilyana by Hillwood. With our passion for nature, community, and smart living, we can help you find a home that fits your lifestyle.

The Fastest-Growing Cities in Collin County, Texas

According to recent US Census data, Collin County has grown significantly with its total population now at 1,095,580. Collin County experienced a steady 2% to 4% increase in population over the last five years and a 198.30% jump in population from 1990 to 2010.

Population growth means economic prosperity and diversity for the area. Many cities in Collin County have experienced tremendous growth in recent years. Below, we review the four fastest-growing cities in Collin County, based on their population in 2019 and their growth percentage rate from 2015 to 2019.

1. Celina

Population: 16,299

Population growth: 50.8%

Established in 1876 by settlers, Celina’s population has almost tripled in size since 2010, making it the fastest-growing city within Collin County. Celina boasts a vibrant economy, with a median household income of $92,000 and an average house value of over $450,000. Lilyana, a master-planned community by Hillwood Communities, is located within Celina and halfway between Celina and Prosper (Number 4 on our list).

2. Melissa

Population: 12,117

Population growth: 37.8%

The town of Melissa was laid out in 1872 when the Houston and Central Railroad was built through the area. Railway transportation made the town a commercial center for area farmers. Located in north-central Collin County, Melissa has enjoyed steady growth over the years and is projected to grow more in the future. Currently, Melissa is updating infrastructure and adding amenities to the city to be ready for its next phase of economic growth.

3. Princeton

Population: 13,894

Population growth: 35.4%

Established around 1888, Princeton is another historic town in the northeast section of Collin County, 30 miles away from Dallas. Princeton is known for a small-town feel and a slower pace. It boasts an excellent school system and a crime rate that is 1.7 times lower than the U.S. average.

4. Prosper

Population: 24,579

Population growth: 34.9%

As the name suggests, Prosper continues to do just that. The second-largest city on this list, just south of Celina, Prosper continues to grow while still maintaining its city motto of “A Place Where Everyone Matters.” Further doing credit to its name, Prosper’s average household income was $146,733 in 2019. Prosper is also an extremely active community. There are numerous public parks, hiking trails, golf courses, athletic fields, and recreational sports leagues for all ages.

Consider Lilyana by Hillwood

If you are looking to move to Collin County, consider Lilyana by Hillwood in the Celina/Prosper area, which puts you in the #1 fastest-growing city in the #1 fastest-growing county in Texas. Top-notch schools, fantastic community amenities, and 50 acres of beautiful green spaces are just the beginning of what Lilyana has to offer you.

Lilyana is a master-planned development by Hillwood Communities, a company established by Ross Perot Jr. in 1988. Hillwood Communities creates one-of-a-kind neighborhoods that foster meaningful interactions between neighbors.

Hillwood Communities Offers Loads of Amenities

Faster population growth means more demand for amenities, and Hillwood has that in spades. Each community within the Hillwood portfolio is thoughtfully and meticulously planned by our amazing staff. It is little wonder we received the Dallas Builders Association Developer of the Year award in 2016, 2018, and 2020.

With 30 years of experience under our belts, we are ready to provide you and your family with the ideal home in a safe, active, innovative, and flourishing community. To see more of what Lilyana has to offer you and your family, take a virtual tour or schedule a visit with a builder. If you like what you see and want to know more, contact us directly. We are eager to answer all your questions about our beautiful, friendly community and show you our model homes. Contact us today to explore your homebuying options in one of the fastest-growing areas of Collin County.

Is It Better To Build Or Buy A House?

Have you ever thought about having a house built? It’s not uncommon for people to dream about designing their ideal home, from the floor plan to the fine details. However, building a new house vs buying an existing one can be complicated, depending on the circumstances. If you’re uncertain about building vs buying a home, we will take you through some important points to consider before you decide.

Building A New Home

Having a house built within a master-planned community offers a more structured process than you would have if you buy a vacant lot in a subdivision. The infrastructure of a master-planned community will be established and there will be amenities like fitness centers, event pavilions, pools, parks, and playgrounds that are either available to residents now or planned for the future.

Additionally, the building process in a planned community is simplified as well. You can start by choosing your lot or the home design you want from an array of available options. Then, construction begins. The home builders at Lilyana by Hillwood offer homebuilding sites in our master-planned community in Celina, Texas and work with you to help you create your ideal new home.

Benefits of Building

There are several benefits of building a house including greater control and options for customization, among others.

  • Customization. You can select the design, features and finishes from the start rather than remodeling an existing house.
  • Control. When you choose to build, you will have much more control over the final product. An existing home may have features you do not like that you accept because you like other elements of the house.
  • Competition. Some cities have very few existing homes for sale. This means homeowners receive multiple full price offers before their home is even officially on the market. When you build a house vs buy a house, you don’t have to worry about competition from other buyers.
  • Newness. A home you have built will be brand new! It will have sparkling new appliances, updated finishes and likely be more energy efficient and tech savvy than an existing home. So, while the cost of building a home vs buying is likely more per square foot, you ultimately will get what you want (or very close to it) and great value for your money.

If you’re concerned about affording the cost of building new vs. buying existing, it may be possible to qualify for a Federal Housing Association (FHA) One-Time Close Construction loan that will significantly offset the construction costs of your new home. These are just a few of the reasons why many people opt for building versus buying their homes.

Buying an Existing Home

Buying a home can be a more straightforward process than building one, but you will face certain limitations. You may not face construction costs, but you must still account for certain expenses beyond just the market price of the house. You’ll need to prepare for your closing costs, the cost of an appraisal and home inspection, and any remodeling you require before you move.

There are many different loan programs available that can make buying a home easier and more affordable. The FHA, USDA, and VA all offer loan programs for first-time homebuyers, some of which may include zero down payment and lower interest rates. It’s worth taking time to investigate all of your options for financing to get maximum value from your home purchase.

When considering buying vs building a house, these factors may make buying more attractive:

  • Timing. Provided you don’t do an extensive remodel, there is no need to wait for construction when you choose a move-in ready existing home. If your moving timeline is urgent, then it may be in your best interests to choose an existing home to buy instead of having a house built
  • Price. Depending on the neighborhood, you may pay less for an existing home than you would for a newly built home. But then again, you may not. An existing home in a sought-after neighborhood can cost more than a newly built home in a brand-new development.
  • Decision Making. If you find it difficult to make decisions, building a house may not be for you. You will have a lot of choices to make from the lot to the home design, countertops, paint colors, flooring, etc. Buying an existing home will not require as many choices.

These are just a few of the benefits of buying vs building a house. Of course, if you decide to buy instead of build, you’ll need to decide what type of home you want to buy. The age of the home is one of the most important factors to consider.

Buying an Old Home vs. a New Home

There are some key considerations to evaluate with a new home vs old home. An established older home has a certain charm that many homebuyers will find attractive. New homes may have modern features and amenities, but some homebuyers find them less personal and attractive than older homes. Ultimately, buying a new home vs an old home comes down to personal preference.

Is It Better to Buy or Build a House for You?

If you are torn between the decision to build a house vs buy a house, it is vital to consider your family’s needs. If you are still unsure about building vs buying a home, Lilyana by Hillwood can help. You can take a virtual tour of our model homes or schedule an appointment with a builder to visit our community. If you are leaning toward building vs buying a home, Lilyana offers a wide range of amenities and community-driven features that will help you make your homesite selection with confidence. Contact us today for more information about building and buying options in Lilyana.

The Best Places to Raise Your Family in Collin County

With some of the best small towns in Texas for families, the Collin County area is a prime place to raise your children with good values, safety, and plenty of opportunities for family fun.

Let’s take a look at some of the great communities in Collin County.

Celina, Texas

When looking to purchase a home in North Texas and specifically the DFW area, Celina can’t be beat. With great schools, lots to do, and high ratings for safety, Celina is among the best family cities in Texas.

Growing Fast

The city of Celina is growing fast. That’s likely because it has developed a reputation as one of the best small towns in Texas to raise a family. It’s convenient location and reasonable cost of living have landed Celina on the list of the top cities in Collin County, TX for 2021. The great schools and fun, family friendly attractions make it one of the most kid-friendly cities in Texas.

Top Schools

Education is top priority for Collin County kids and their parents. Residents of Celina have two excellent school district options. Celina ISD serves the majority of the town’s students, including Bluewood by Hillwood, while kids living in the southern portion of the city, like Lilyana by Hillwood, attend Prosper ISD schools. Both are 3A school districts that have achieved recognition from the Texas Education Agency for the quality of their academics, with low student-teacher ratios and excellent teachers.

Community Safety

Celina has long enjoyed a reputation as a safe city and was recently named one of the 25 safest cities in Texas by Safewise.com. The Celina area is home to several master-planned communities, which usually offer residents increased safety based on the layout of the development. Lilyana by Hillwood was designed to create a sense of connection for residents. When neighbors see each other within their community and share amenities, they are drawn together in natural, authentic ways. This makes for a tight-knit neighborhood that is inherently safer.

Prosper, Texas

Settled right next to Celina, Prosper is considered one of the top five family-friendly cities in Texas. With its small-town charm and big-city resources, the Prosper area is a wonderful place for parents with children.

Small Town Ideals

As one of the best cities in Texas to raise a family, Prosper, Texas, gives residents the opportunity to be part of a thriving community. The area boasts large, expansive parks such as Frontier and Town Lake, making the area great fun for families. With a reasonable cost of living that rivals many other area cities, Prosper is an ideal place to plant your roots.

Quality Education

Prosper High School and Prosper ISD are both nationally ranked for giving students excellent access to education. Multiple elementary schools in the Prosper area are blue-ribbon rated, and the school district receives an accountability rating of A and an academic performance score of 10. These facts place Prosper among the top Collin County cities for families with kids.

Community Safety

Prosper, like many Collin County cities, has established a reputation for being a safe place for families. With low crime rates, you won’t need to worry about your family’s safety. In a Prosper neighborhood, you can relax with confidence knowing that you are in a secure and safe area, making it one of the best small towns in Texas to raise a family.

Little Elm, Texas

If you love to spend time outdoors, Little Elm, which has 66 miles of Lake Lewisville shoreline, might just be the place for you. With loads of family activities and great educational opportunities, it’s one of the top kid-friendly cities in Texas.

Recreational Activities Abound

Lake Lewisville is a main attraction for both residents and tourists of Little Elm, making the area a top Collin County, TX destination for fun and relaxation. However, Little Elm has even more to offer than the lake. With golf, hiking, water parks, hot air balloon rides, rock climbing, museums, amusement parks, and much more, the Little Elm area offers families ample adventures.

Great Schools

Little Elm residents have access to excellent schools for their children. Most homes in the city fall within the Little Elm School District. Residents in the eastern most portion of town are in the Frisco ISD and homes in the northern sections of the city are in the Denton ISD. As some of the fastest-growing in the state, these districts have the resources to educate their students properly, giving kids a great springboard for a bright future. Residents of Union Park by Hillwood attend Denton ISD, which is top-rated among local ISDs.

Safe Living

Crime rates in Little Elm are significantly lower than the rest of the state, making it one of the best cities in Texas to raise a family when it comes to safety.

Melissa, Texas

Melissa, Texas, is another incredible up-and-coming town in Collin County, Texas. With fantastic restaurants, entertainment, schools, and safety, this area is a home run for new and established families alike.

Hometown Values not Far from the City

Any parent can feel confident raising their children in Melissa, with its significant focus on education and family values. With a rich history and close-knit community, as well as great home and resale values, this area has the hometown charm you’re looking for coupled with close proximity to Frisco, Plano, and Dallas.

Award-Winning ISD

Melissa ISD has award-winning educational programs focused on the growth and development of its students. With an eye focused on student potential, this district is founded on principles you can feel confident in. Children receive nothing short of a first-class education at Melissa ISD.

Community Safety

As one of the safest towns in Collin County, you don’t have to spend any time worrying about your family’s security. In Melissa, and especially within Liberty by Hillwood, crime rates are some of the lowest in Texas. As a result, you can always rest easy knowing your family is safe.

Contact Lilyana by Hillwood

If you and your family are looking to join a close-knit community in Collin County, TX, look no further than Lilyana by Hillwood. With plenty of fun amenities, community events and neighborhood parks, your kids will make new friends and feel right at home fast. Contact us or visit our website for more information.

Benefits of Living Near Natural Beauty, Parks, Trails, and Other Green Spaces

parks, trails, & green spaces

Whether it’s biking, running, or walking the dog, spending active time outdoors is good for your health and happiness. But these activities require a significant amount of space. This is one of many reasons why living by nature can be a huge benefit if you love an active lifestyle.

Having access to true outdoor green spaces is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and that’s exactly what we provide at Lilyana by Hillwood. Here are some of the key benefits of living near a park, trail, or other green space.

Improved Mental Health

According to a recent study, spending regular time outdoors is linked with better mental wellbeing and happiness. This could be due to a number of reasons, including additional fresh air, added socialization, or better exercise. Living in natural beauty is relaxing and peaceful and provides a much-needed respite from the stress of daily life.

Cleaner Air

City planners know the importance of parks in urban areas. They give city dwellers a little slice of nature to enjoy. Even more important, the trees and other plants found in urban green spaces produce oxygen that we require for life and clean the air of carbon dioxide. Without parks and natural areas, life could not exist.

Better Physical Fitness

If you need a nudge on your fitness journey, living near a green space is a wonderful way to get just that. It’s hard to stay motivated when you only see grey concrete outside of your window, but with green spaces, it’s nearly impossible to stay inside. Parks and trails provide a beautiful and convenient reason to get outside and get active. With lovely views, interesting wildlife, and safe design, trails provide a built-in gym for those who live nearby. In fact, studies have shown a correlation between living near green spaces and physical fitness. Some researchers even believe living around nature could even make you live longer. If it doesn’t, it can certainly make your life more beautiful and enjoyable.

Natural Beauty Abounds at Lilyana

So why are parks important to the community? Because they are beautiful, they enhance property values, and they encourage us to get moving, engage with others in the community and enjoy nature. The benefits of green space in communities are numerous, so Hillwood incorporated them into all master-planned communities including Lilyana. Take a look at the amenities our residents enjoy including pocket parks, trails, ponds, and much more.

Lilyana has countless trails for your evening walks or daily runs, a pond for some catch-and-release fishing, an outdoor entertainment area, and more. In addition to these great amenities, our newest amenity, Bluebonnet Park, is coming soon. This pocket park will include a covered pavilion, gas grills, bocce ball and sport courts, and a children’s play area for residents of all ages to enjoy.

Contact Us

Now that you know the countless benefits of parks in communities, your healthy, happy, nature-filled life awaits you at Lilyana, located in Celina, TX within Prosper ISD. If you are ready to learn more about our community just north of the DFW Metroplex in North Texas, take a virtual tour, visit our website, or get in touch today!

4 Reasons to Love Living in Prosper ISD

Whether you’re looking to buy a starter home or need to move to a larger home for your growing family, location is a huge consideration. While you may be thinking about proximity to work, entertainment, and shopping, don’t forget to investigate the area’s schools. Fantastic public schools are one reason parents in Prosper, TX and the surrounding areas love living in the Prosper Independent School District.

Prosper ISD Ratings and Rankings

Out of 1,019 school districts evaluated, Prosper sits high on the charts as the 14th best district in Texas. As such, Prosper ISD school ratings consistently go above and beyond the average. Across Prosper ISD’s 12 elementary schools, four middle schools, and two high schools, the district received an A rating by the Texas Education Agency’s accountability system in 2019. This means that Prosper schools met the top performance targets for student achievement, school progress and “closing the gaps” for Texas schools, based upon testing results from every student enrolled.

Prosper Test Scores Rank in Top 5% for Texas

Prosper ISD’s mission is to prepare students so they can graduate excited, inspired, and prepared to succeed in the rapidly changing environment of higher education and the working world. This mission helps teachers motivate students to achieve 10/10 rankings on tests, placing Prosper schools’ ratings and test scores in the top 5% in the state.

Prosper ISD Rating: Top in Reading and Math Proficiency

Two specific areas in which students in Prosper, TX schools excel are reading and math proficiency—with average scores in the top 5% and 1%, respectively. When it comes to college preparedness, math and reading skills are important building blocks to understanding a large majority of university curricula. If a student has a firm grasp on math and reading, they will have much more flexibility in their future educational and career paths.

Prosper Schools Are More Diverse Than Similar Rural School Districts

Diversity is an important consideration for many young families as they search for a home in a new community. Prosper Independent School District is located in a community with a more diverse population than many other areas of north Texas. Minority enrollment in the Prosper Independent School District accounts for over 43% of the student population.

Students at Prosper schools are taught diversity and inclusion from an early age. Starting in pre-K, students begin learning competencies in interpersonal effectiveness, including:

  • Positive student self-concept
  • Effective interactions with diverse populations
  • Effective and appropriate communication
  • Recognition of personal boundaries, individual rights, and privacy needs of others
  • Effective conflict resolution

Those who choose a home in the Prosper Independent School District can be assured that their children’s schools will reflect our diverse world.

Prosper School District Rating: Top 1% in Graduation Rate

Across the state, the average graduation rate of Texas high schools is 90%. The Prosper school district, however, ranks in the top 1% of the state, with a graduation rate of 99.1%. Studies have shown that more rigorous academic programs tend to have higher graduation rates and lower dropout rates.

Earning a high school diploma has shown to have positive effects that last throughout life. Students who graduate from high school have higher self-esteem, earn a better living, and tend to have a greater quality of life overall.

Master-Planned Community in Prosper ISD

Now, if you’re looking for the best community for relocation within the north Texas and DFW area, look no further than Lilyana by Hillwood. Situated in Celina, TX, just outside Frisco and Plano, homes in Lilyana provide the best of both worlds—proximity to shopping, entertainment, work, and top-tier schools in Prosper ISD. Texas students living in Lilyana attend Johnson Elementary School, Rogers Middle School, and Prosper High School, giving them the opportunity to attend the acclaimed Prosper Independent School District.

In the near future, a Prosper ISD elementary school will be built within the Lilyana community, allowing the neighborhood’s youngest students to walk or bike to school.

Learn more about making your relocation dreams a reality with Lilyana by Hillwood virtual tours, or get in touch with us to discuss your options.