How Mortgage Rates Compare

September 1st, 2010

Wilmington, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers an interesting article written by Carla Hill with about today’s mortgage rates.

You’ve heard it all across the media. Interest rates are at historic lows. If you are new to the mortgage process, these figures and statements give you little frame of reference. Let’s take a moment to look at where interest rates have been over the last few decades, and what today’s rates really mean for homebuyers. Interest rates are affected by a gamut of factors. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “Lower interest rates make it easier for people to borrow in order to buy cars and homes. Purchases of homes, in turn, increase the demand for other items, such as furniture and appliances, thus providing an additional boost to the economy. Lower interest rates mean that consumers spend less on interest costs, leaving them with more of their income to spend on goods and services.” And this is, after all, what you want people to do in a down economy. You want them to reinvigorate the economy with spending. The Fed continues, “If the rates that consumers and businesses have to pay to borrow rise too rapidly, however, spending may decline, leading to an economic slowdown.” So, it is a intricate dance the powers that be must perform in order to steer the economy the best they can. They, namely the Federal Reserve and Banks, are seeking stable prices, high employment rates, and sustainable growth in the economy. 30 years ago, in 1980, when many first-time home buyers parents were making home purchases, Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed rate mortgage hit a staggering 16.32 percent. Let’s compare that in relation to today’s interest rate, averaging around 4.5 percent.

  • In the most basic terms, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for $100,000 at 16.32 percent, will cost you around $1,450 a month.
  • For the same mortgage at a 4.5 percent rate, you’ll be paying $580 a month.

The difference is astounding, and this is the main reason the media is shouting news about interest rates. If you are in the position to buy, now could very well be the time.

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Wilmington, NC Green builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes understands the importance of recycling and would like to share the following information about recycling paper, courtesy of

  • Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees compared to paper made from virgin materials.
  • Instead of using a new piece of paper for rough work, turn over a used copy and write on the other side.
  • Junk mail is more than an annoyance. It clogs landfills as well as your mailbox, and costs millions of trees and tax dollars every year.
  • 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in U.S. landfills annually.
  • The average U.S. household receives unsolicited junk mail equal to 1.5 trees each year—That’s more than 100 million trees for all households combined.
  • 44 percent of junk mail is thrown away unopened, but only half that much junk mail (33 percent) is recycled.
  • Americans pay $370 million annually to dispose of junk mail that doesn’t get recycled.
  • On average, Americans spend 8 months opening junk mail in the course of their lives.
  • Start by registering with the Mail Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). It won’t guarantee you a life free of junk mail, but it can help.
  • You can also go to, which can enable you to remove your name from lists that mortgage, credit card and insurance companies use to mail you offers and solicitations.
  • One option is to use the Stop the Junk Mail Kit developed by the Consumer Research Institute.
  • The website provides further guidelines for reducing junk mail and other intrusions, from unwanted e-mail (Spam) to telemarketing.
  • Pay your bills online! Eliminate your paper trail as well as the energy used to transport paper bills.
  • Go digital. If only 10 million people in the US change Mon-Fri newspapers to online, we could save almost 50,000 trees each year!
  • Manufacturing products from recycled materials requires substantially less energy and natural resources than products from virgin materials.
  • You may think that a lot of paper gets recycled, but according to the National Recycling Coalition, Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 13-foot-high wall of paper from New York to Seattle.
  • Do your part – recycle!

Selecting Green Paint

February 2nd, 2010

Wilmington, NC custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an informative article from that explains things to look for when selecting Green paint. A new coat of paint can make a room feel fresh again, but it often has the opposite effect on the air quality in your home. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paints, stains, and other architectural coatings produce about 9 percent of the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from consumer and commercial products, making them the second-largest source of VOC emissions after after automobiles. For the complete article, click here

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Chocolate DrizzleSt James Plantation NC remodeler Mark Johnson Custom Homes recommends those in the Cape Fear area to attend the Wilmington Chocolate Festival, which kicks off Friday, February 5th, 2010 with the annual Chocolate Gala. This promises to be one of the area’s most fun Galas of the year. It’s also a great value at only $25 in advance. Friday’s Chocolate Gala features wonderful appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, free wine tastings, artisan beers, live music, and of course the “Unlimited Chocolates and Desserts”!  The following Saturday and Sunday will be a business showcase of proprietors in our area who make or sell chocolates and other sweet treats. The Festival also includes “Spotlights,” exhibitor’s demonstrations of their techniques involved in creating their chocolate delights! Tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $5 in advance or $8 at the door. The weekend’s events will be at the Senior Center on 2222 S. College Road in Wilmington, NC. For more information, call 910-798-6402 or 910-264-9379 or visit

Figure Eight Harbor Remodel

January 28th, 2010

Figure Eight Harbor RemodelWilmington, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes is excited to share that we are currently preparing for demolition work on our latest contract to remodel a condominium in Figure Eight Harbor in Wilmington, NC. The contract includes a full kitchen upgrade along with two additional bath renovations, removing all popcorn ceilings and replacing the lower floor with hardwoods. The scope of work is schedule for a 60 day completion.
If you are considering a large or small scale remodel, contact
Mark Johnson Custom Homes at 910-409-2421  or e-mail Mark directly!

As both a proud member of the National Association of Home Builder and a Green home builder, Wilmington, NC luxury home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers a recent press release from the NAHB. Below is the complete press release on “Project ReEnergize”, a program that was addressed at the NAHB’s International Builders’ Show aimed to generate Green jobs and weatherize homes.

“January 21, 2010 – A weatherization program that created jobs while it made homes more energy-efficient worked in Minnesota – and can be one model for successful programs in other states.

A remodeler, a window manufacturer and the executive officer for the Builders Association of Minnesota explained how ‘Project ReEnergize’ worked during a press conference on Wednesday at the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show.

As part of its economic stimulus package, the Obama Administration made money available to state agencies for the purpose of weatherizing homes and generating jobs.

When some Minnesota agencies could not disburse the funding quickly enough, the state turned to the home builders association, which quickly trained and certified contractors and insulation installers to make improvements to 1,400 homes, said Pam Perri Weaver, BAMN’s executive officer.

Consumers were eligible for rebates when they hired certified contractors to replace windows, but they received even more money if their home’s insulation was upgraded as well. That was an important incentive because it’s hard to convince home owners to make improvements that in the end, they can’t see, said Minnesota remodeler Shawn Nelson, a Project ReEnergize participant. ‘Air sealing is not a visual upgrade,’ he said.

About 90 percent of the windows in today’s homes are older, single-pane glass styles – much less efficient than modern double-pane, triple-pane and argon-filled products, noted Maureen McDonough of Andersen Windows. A new federal energy-efficiency tax credit and supplying windows for Project ReEnergize contractors were important factors in enabling the manufacturer to call back 600 employees who had been laid off, she added.

Participating home owners had no income limits, but the homes could be no larger than 3,000 square feet and had to be built before the year 2000, when more stringent state energy codes were mandated. The average size of each home was 1,800 square feet and the average age was about 45 years old, Weaver said.

The home builders association stands ready to funnel more money to consumers to make upgrades should additional federal funding become available. ‘We have a list of people who are waiting,’ because most consumers are unwilling to make the upgrades without the financial incentives, Nelson said.”

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Wilmington, NC builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes encourages those in the Cape Fear Area to attend UNC-Wilmington’s Intercultural Week (iWeek) events beginning February 15, 2010. The Office of International Programs at UNC-W will be hosting iWeek, which will culminate with the Intercultural Festival on Saturday, February 19th, 2010. This year’s theme is “Connecting Communities through Social Justice,” and below is the week’s agenda and for detailed information on each, visit their website! All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted on UNC-W’s iWeek website.

Monday, February 15

  • Around the World: All Day, residence hall lobbies
  • Love in Any Language:12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, FSC, Masonboro Island Room             
  • Children in the Fields: 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM, FSC, Clock Tower Lounge
  • The Fight for Water: 7:00 PM, Lumina Theater
  • Jonathan Kozol, Joy & Justice: An Invitation to the Young to Serve the Children of the Poor: 7:00 PM, Kenan Auditorium

Tuesday, February 16

  • Creating Social Justice through Latino-Serving Community Resource Centers: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, Java City, Randall Library
  • Discussion of Afro-Brazilian Studies: 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM, FSC, Wrightsville Beach Room
  • Bilingual Dramatized Readings: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Randall Library Auditorium
  • UNCW Goes on a Gender Bender: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM, DeLoach Hall, 114
  • Close to Home: 7:00 PM, Lumina Theater

Wednesday, February 17 

  • Cultural Diversity in Harmony – Shanghai and the World Expo 2010: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, FSC, Wrightsville Beach Room
  • Fulbright Scholarship Opportunities for Faculty: 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM, CTE/CFL Conference Room
  • Who is a Battered Immigrant & What Immigration Remedies Exist in Our Community?: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM, FSC, Bald Head Island Room
  • Israel – Land of Many Cultures: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, FSC, Sunset Beach Room
  • Delwende: Get Up and Walk!: 7:00 PM, Lumina Theater

Thursday, February 18

  • African American Read-In: Activist Authors: 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Java City, Randall Library            
  • Friendship Bridge in Guatemala: Micro-Lending and Education to Improve the Lives of Women and Families: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, FSC, Sunset Beach Room
  • Afro-Latinos – The Untaught Story: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Computer & Information Systems Hall, 1008
  • Music from Around the World: 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Lumina Theater               
  • Prisoner of the Mountains: 7:00 PM, Randall Library Auditorium
  • Friday, February 19
  • US Immigration – Know Your Rights: 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM, FSC, Sunset Beach Room
  • Social Justice and the Study Abroad Experience – 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, FSC, Wrightsville Beach Room
  • Ralph Bunche Awareness Presentation: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM, FSC, Wrightsville Beach Room
  • “We Know That if we Build a 15′ Fence, Then That’s Just a 15′ Ladder” – A Comprehensive Look at DHS Policy, Activism and Immigration on the Arizona/Mexico Border: 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM, FSC, Wrightsville Beach Room

Saturday, February 20

  • 18th Annual Intercultural Festival: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Burney Center 
  • A Grain of Sand and Becoming: 8:00 PM, Lumina Theater     

Ongoing Event: Monday, February 8 – Thursday, February 25

  • Activist Authors Exhibit

Ongoing Events: Monday, February 15 – Friday, February 19

  • International Cuisine at Wagoner Dining Hall      
  • A Window to the World, Westside Hall Display Case

New Homeowner Survey

January 21st, 2010

Wilmington, NC custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share our most recent client testimonial from Mr. and Mrs. Jim Edens. Our award-winning customer service stems from exceeding client expectations and we are excited to share with you what our latest clients had to say about the Mark Johnson Custom Homes building experience! Click here to read what other clients have said about Mark Johnson Custom Homes!

New Homeowner Survey

Describe your experience with the staff of Mark Johnson Custom Homes, Inc.

We enjoyed working with your staff very much. Also, your subcontractors were very willing to work with us.

Would you recommend Mark Johnson Custom Homes, Inc.? Why?

Yes. Quality materials, subcontractors and a willingness on everyone’s part to work with us was always Mark’s biggest concern.

On a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the highest), how helpful was our Client Progress Portal? What improvements can be made?

Five. None

A large part of our marketing is based on client testimonials. If you are willing to provide a testimonial for us, please do so here:

“Beverly and I have enjoyed the total process from design, estimating, construction,(Mark was very receptive to changes made during the construction) and the punchlist process. We have shared this testimonial with our friends and prospective home building clients in the past and are happy to do it now per your request. Again,we were very pleased with Mark Johnson Custom Homes on this project.” – Jim Edens

Five Home Trends for 2010

January 19th, 2010

Wilmington, NC custom home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes aims and exceeds customer expectations both during and after the home building process. And an important part of offering award-winning customer service is being aware of current trends in the home building industry. An article from MarketWatch outlined the five trends below to be on the lookout for in 2010 and to read more, click here!

The live-in kitchen.

Living within our means.

The Green kitchen.

The wellness kitchen.

Cooking for fun.

Wilmington, NC remodeler Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an article from’s Paul Bomberger with tips on how to approach remodeling your home without a home equity loan. Bomberger addressed the points below as well as pointing out that almost one-third of the country’s homeowners have near negative equity on their home. To read the complete article, click here!  

  • Personal savings
  • Credit cards
  • Hold a garage or yard sale
  • Sweat equity
  • Borrowing from family