Kieland Meadows gaining momentum
Hillcrest Builders says time right to build new home
By Mark Sherry
Above is one of two homes currently under construction by Hillcrest Builders in the Kieland Meadows subdivision. Those homes will be completed soon and will join the finished products like those seen at right and below in Kieland Meadows. Interest is picking up rapidly in lots in the development on the south end of 8th Street in Kiel. Country living in the city will be part of Kieland Meadows forever as a state marsh area borders the development to the south. Mark Sherry photos

The success of residential developments has sometimes been equated to the proverbial snowball rolling down a hill.

The snowball starts small, but as it goes it gains speed and size until it has become all that it can be.

That snowball seems to be gaining speed and size at Kieland Meadows, a Hillcrest Builders development on Kiel’s southwest side at the south end of 8th Street.

The development is slightly off the beaten path, but that is one of its greatest attributes. The residents who are there now will attest to the fact that it is country living in the city. The Kiel Marsh State Wildlife Area borders the property to the south so a natural setting always will be part of this development.

Anyone who is thinking of constructing a new home who has not driven down 8th Street recently should do so. There are some established residents there— including a couple featured on a video on Hillcrest’s Web site—but also under construction is a new home as well as another new spec home.

The snowball is rolling, and now would be a good time to get on board.

Delayed recovery

“Kiel has had a delayed response from the recession recovery because there were a fair amount of foreclosures which suppressed the market,” said Oyvind Solvang, owner of Hillcrest Builders, which has successfully developed residential neighborhoods throughout eastern Wisconsin.

Solvang said more area homeowners are now finding they can sell their existing homes for much closer to a fair market price, enabling them to have more equity to put toward constructing a new home—perhaps the home of their dreams.

A great advantage of Hillcrest Builders is that they are more than a construction company—they also have in-house realtors who can sell that existing home and help arrange everything for a smooth transition into the family’s next home.

Also helping the home market to bounce back is the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s loan program. Do not be distracted by the name of the sponsoring federal agency—those homes do not have to be out in the country. Rather, the program is designed to assist smaller communities such as Kiel to develop.

The USDA loan program offers zero down payment and provides home ownership as a real alternative for people who are currently renting. It is one of the best zero down payment 30-year fixed rate loans which exists for first-time home buyers. The guidelines are flexible, but they may change in the coming year so USDA officials are encouraging people to take advantage of this program now before it is too late. Also, there are no loan limits but income limitations do apply based on the county in which the family is going to purchase the home in and their family size. Solvang said those limits in this area are in the range of $80,000 to $120,000, so people should not assume the income limits are so low that they will not qualify. Minimum credit scores also apply but they are reasonably set.

Finally, the USDA program offers a low annual fee which is less than mortgage insurance on a Federal Housing Administration loan so people are able to put zero down and obtain a lower payment than a FHA loan with a down payment.

“I would say it’s a great starting point,” Solvang said of the USDA program. “The financing market is back, but not in a crazy way like it was before the crash. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re wondering if you’re in the ballpark,” he stated.

Hillcrest Builders has also bolstered its standard feature offerings between its Value Line and its Premium Line. This includes standard 2x6 construction with OSB sheeting and excellent insulation, Solvang said. Solvang has a degree in mechanical engineering, and has found this to be a great asset when evaluating the best energy features and soundest construction while choosing the best value for Hillcrest’s customers.

Hillcrest Builders now offers almost 50 standard building plans, but the company’s longtime willingness to customize plans—giving customers exactly what they want—really provides infinite possibilities. Plans which offer multigenerational living options—such as an area in the residence for an elderly parent to live—are becoming more popular. Hillcrest Builders also has new ranch home plans with the popular open concepts which home owners seem to like these days.

All about land and plans

Solvang said Hillcrest’s success in development has been relatively simple. “Land and plans, plans and land,” he said. “Number one, have the right location, and then have the right plans—and we have both.”

Beyond those plans, Hillcrest Builders also stays on top of the latest offerings when it comes to how to build those homes and what to put inside them. From premium line quartz counter tops to laminate flooring, new energy efficient walls, and so much more, Hillcrest Builders has it included.

An interesting trend Solvang has noted is empty nester couples building new homes. There are several reasons for that—available equity, the ability to live at home longer these days, and the desire and ability to build a home which is ready for a person’s older years. Solvang said he sees empty nesters wanting simpler homes with features such as zero steps from the garage to the home and easy access throughout it, including a spacious master bath with no-curb walk-in showers made with no-grout tile replacement materials for no maintenance. He said it is good to have such things in place even before they are needed. “It’s like bringing the umbrella so it doesn’t rain,” he said. “We often bring it up even if the customer hasn’t thought about it. It’s just good, solid planning.”

Good, solid plans and good, solid homes is a great way to describe Hillcrest Builders. Whether it is the young, first-time home buyer or the couple heading into retirement, now is a great time to get into a great home in a great location such as Kieland Meadows. “It’s very, very attainable for someone to get into a good home now,” Solvang said.