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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once you narrow down your home loan lender search to a few top candidates, ask them the following questions.
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.
If a lot of the process is online, there may be fewer fees, but it’s also harder to ask questions or negotiate terms.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
Those who choose a home in the Prosper Independent School District can be assured that their children’s schools will reflect our diverse world.
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.
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.