In theory buying new construction sounds simple and straight forward. But the process comes with its own challenges and being aware of them is the first step to stress free home buying
1. Come Prepared
Like most big decisions in life it’s important to be prepared, so gather the facts and know what important questions to ask.
With any home getting pre-approved for a home loan is an important first step and buying new construction is no different. If you’re serious about buying sit down with a mortgage lender, crunch the numbers and find out what price range works for you.
And just like you would shop for a home shop for an agent and mortgage lender. Different lenders offer different terms and depending on your situation certain factors are more valuable. For example, paying less down might be worth a slightly higher interest rate or visa versa.
Most builders will have a designated mortgage lender and real estate agent that they work with. You are not obligated to work with the builder’s people and you might get better rates or terms with another lender.
Real estate agents are in a similar category, you want to shop around. An agent is going to be your guide through the whole home buying process. You will be working with them closely so it’s important to find someone with knowledge, that you trust, and that you get along with.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the agent and lender chosen by the builder work for the builder, and if that make you nervous or uncomfortable talk to other agents and lenders.
And for your last bit of homework, look at the builder themselves. What other projects have they completed? Were they finished on time? Look for reviews and feedback from people who bought from them previously. If you are buying in a community knock on a few doors and ask the residents what there experience was like.
A real estate agent can help you with this and an honest opinion is one reason to work with an outside agent rather than the builder’s.
2.Upgrades, Upgrades, Upgrades
When you take a tour of a builder’s showroom the possibilities feel endless. You could add-on and upgrade till the cows come home, but the costs add up so you have to pick what’s best for you.
When choosing upgrades consider how they will affect the over all value of your home. Going from linoleum flooring to hardwood will add a lot of value where as picking top grade cabinets that cost thousands more will not.
A good rule of thumb is to think about the day you sell your house. How much more would you pay for fancy cabinets? In general hardwood or tile flooring and stone counters are a safe investment.
Remember the house itself and its location trump any upgrades you could make. Cosmetic changes can always be made later but moving to a corner lot or adding an extra bedroom cannot be done later. So if you are weighing the decision between granite counters or extra square footage, go for the bigger house.
And just like the mortgage lender and real estate agents, you are not required to make upgrades through the builder. In many cases a builder with offer incentives, and the convenience of going through the builder is undeniable. However, there will be fewer options and hiring a contractor you choose can save you money and give you the most options.
Builders offer warranties on elements of the house considered structure or workmanship. The length of the warranty depends on the elements of the house. Structure for example, has a longer warranty than electrical.
But not everything installed by the builder is insured by the builders. Windows or appliances come with a manufacturers warranty and builders will often defer any issues to the manufacturer.
The two types of warranties offered by builders are implied and express. Implied warranties relate to a structure’s livability and the local building codes. They are less specific than express warranties and have an average warranty length of 10 years.
Express warranties are less common. They have more precise wording and cut off times for different parts of the house. For any warranty have a third part, like a lawyer or real estate agent, look it over.
Unlike when you buy a previously occupied home, builders will not come down on the total price of the home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a deal. While the overall costs of the home is non-negotiable you can ask a builder to pay closing costs or provide extra upgrades.
5. Home Inspection
Just because a home is brand new does not mean it will be without defects. You’d never buy a pre-owned home without a home inspection and you shouldn’t buy a new home without it either.