New construction housing has undeniable intrigue. Maybe it’s the fact that all the materials are clean and fresh. It’s that new carpet smell. Perhaps it’s the psychological bonus of knowing that yours will be the first energy to occupy a space. But buying new construction isn’t as simple as finding a house whose architectural style you admire and then running with it. Here’s what happens when you buy new construction.
Weighing Your Options and Priorities
Knowing you want new construction is good. But what means more to you: location, builder, amenities, or price? Knowing that priority can get you and your agent off on the right foot when it comes to searching for homes to consider.
If you’re more concerned with location, study the communities you’re considering. Check out the building permits and plans for the surrounding areas over the next several years. You may buy a house for its incredible panoramic mountain landscapes only to find a commercial skyscraper erected and destroying the views. Understand the zoning. Locate the schools. Assess public transportation and area features.
If you’re shopping by the builder, research builders thoroughly. Read ratings and reviews. Check out the Better Business Bureau to verify there have been no complaints filed. You can also check with the local clerk’s office to deem the builder free of liens. Buyers have also driven through communities previously constructed by the same builder to see how the neighborhoods withstood the test of time.
When the price is your motivator, then you should know you won’t likely get the wheel and deal experience with builders of new construction that you would in negotiating the price of a pre-owned home. Builders are pretty locked into their pricing. However, if you need a bit of bargaining power, you can try to negotiate for some of the upgrades and add-ons with your purchase.
Pre-Approval for your Home Mortgage Loan
You still need to be pre-approved for your home mortgage loan before you contact real estate agents or begin hunting for houses. It’s important to take care of your funding first because it qualifies you as an empowered buyer, determines your house-buying budget, and takes care of the loan-application process, which can be time-consuming, before shopping properties. But keep in mind that you’ll need more money than just a twenty percent down payment and an idea of your monthly payments. You’ll also pay closing costs, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, possible HOA fees, and other expenses. You’ll also find yourself soon tempted to splurge on upgrades and add-ons that you never even imagined.
But here’s where that can get a little weird. Some builders, but not all, require their buyers to use preferred lenders for securing home mortgage loans. But if you’re not sure what builder you want to go with yet, then how can you find out what the builder’s requirements are?
If you know you’re financially ready, you’ve got a down payment saved, and money stashed away for closing costs, you may be ready for the next step. When you’ve prepared for homeowners insurance and property taxes, and your credit is in pristine condition, then you may be ready to contact an agent who can advise you on how to get pre-approval when shopping for new construction.
Even though you’re considering homes that have never been lived in before, you still need a buyer’s real estate agent to assist you with buying new construction homes. The buyer’s agent does a lot more for you than just find cute houses for you to look at in your price point. A professional who has worked in the industry for years, who has learned the nuances of real estate, who knows housing conditions and qualities, and speaks the legal terms of real estate contracts could be a great representative to help you navigate the process. What’s even better is that you don’t directly pay a buyer’s real estate agent; the seller – or in this case, the builder – does. But there can be some weird rules and stipulations about buyer’s agents and new construction, so when interviewing agents, tell them you’re interested in new construction and see how they reply.
The Agent in the Model Homes
You walk into the builder’s office in a model home just to sneak a peek. A professionally clad business-suited agent with a warm smile and charming speech greets you with enthusiastic hospitality as you come through the door. You can accept or deny the hot or cold beverage you’re offered, but either way, you cannot deny the blatant attempts of the builder’s agent to make you feel comfortable, cozy, and curious. It’s easy to forget that you’re not dealing with a receptionist who is there to serve you, the customer. Instead, you’re dealing with a sales agent whose sole priority is to sell houses for the builder. That is the seller’s agent. Only your agent should speak with the seller’s agent.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
As you tour model homes, understand that what you see does not always come with what you buy. In new construction homes, buyers have the option to customize and personalize some of the finishes like flooring, cabinetry, paint colors, etc. There are a lot of things added to the design of model homes that are considered upgrades. Can it come with the house? Of course, it can; but for an added cost. Everything is an up-sell.
Remember this: You can always start basic and then grow into your new home with the ability to grow your home with you. Embed the property with your energy by engaging in household projects, home improvement tasks, renovations, remodeling, and other creative ways to enhance your environment. It’s not mandatory that you have the very best of all of it in the here and now.
Even if you’re equipped financially and prepared to purchase upgrades such as state-of-the-art appliances as opposed to basic models, those upgrades from the builder could cost considerably more than they would from an appliance center. Compare prices and financing options. Compare those options with the convenience of not having to shop a bunch of stores and deal with an array of contractors over a prolonged period. It may be well worth the investment.
Also, hold onto that nugget of information that you can sometimes negotiate some of these upgrades when you need bargaining tools.
Many new construction homes are now built as part of master-planned communities. These high-tech housing options are crafted to fit lifestyles. The neighborhoods have attractive features like walking trails, dog parks, recreational parks, fitness centers, community pool, or other amenities. But many of the new neighborhoods also come with a homeowner’s association or an HOA.
An HOA exists to protect the integrity and value of the area through an agreed upon set of bylaws governed by a board. You get a list of the rules, regulations, and fees when you decide to move in, with the awareness that those rules can and will be enforced with consequences. You might find the protection of the committee to be comforting; it’s good to know the neighbors can’t paint their home hot pink or leave trash in their yard. Or, you might find the HOA to feel like it’s all up in your personal business. Whether you like it or not, if the house you’re buying is in an HOA, you are subject to its bylaws, consequences, and the HOA fees, which can be hundreds of dollars per month in addition to your home mortgage payment.
That’s Loud and Immature: Young Communities
Don’t expect to be able to lounge under a shade tree in a newly constructed community. Nor will you likely find lush, regrowth lawns. In fact, the landscaping is as new as the houses and needs time to mature. All the plants, shrubs, trees, sod, flowers, and other life needs time to stretch into their new surroundings.
Community spirit hasn’t yet had a chance to take root. Neighbors are moving in one by one, so it’s going to take time for the neighborhood to develop its vibe.
You may find yourself living in a constant construction zone. It may be not only difficult to get in and out of the newly forming roads, but also waking up early to the sounds of heavy machinery and large crews of workers.
If this new community is springing to life in an otherwise rural area, you may even find it difficult to get internet access, cell phone service, or cable television.
Don’t Plan on Going Anywhere | When Resale Sucks
When you buy into a newly constructed community, you may also be bound by an agreement not to sell the house within a specified number of years, similar to a non-compete. Why? Because the builder is still creating more houses exactly like yours that are priced like yours and also in your area. And even if the builder didn’t restrict your ability to sell, buyers won’t be willing to pay the same price for a five-year-old, lived-in house over a brand new model, never lived in, at the same value.
Ask About the Warranty
Even though you’re the first to live in the newly constructed home, and there was no wear and tear or damage caused by previous owners, you still need to concern yourself with a home warranty. You’re about to realize how expensive home ownership can be, and how helpful warranties are in the long run. If one isn’t included, perhaps you can purchase it separately?
The entire property may not all be covered under the same home warranty. Building materials may be separate from appliances which are apart from design elements. Find out which elements of your home’s structure and inclusions are covered under a home warranty and which individual products are covered.
Don’t get all soft and wobbly over the excitement of new. New is enthralling, yes, but it’s not perfection. Things go wrong. Cracks happen in settling. Pipes clog in construction. Appliances falter. Allow room for the human element. Order a home inspection for the peace of mind of knowing that a professional gauged the quality of the building and that you have time to request repairs at the builder’s expense before move-in day.
Many Moving Parts | The Timeline
There are a lot of contributing factors, now, to your real estate transaction. You’ve got money down, a lender in motion, a builder in progress, building materials on the way, a construction crew gearing up, and the entirety of your life changing before your very eyes. Anything could spark a tiny delay which could, in turn, create a tragic domino effect of set backs, unforeseen expenses, and emergency accommodations if you’re out of your last place before this new house is ready for you to roll out the welcome mat.
There are a wide array of both pros and cons when it comes to buying new construction. You get to choose by the location, builder, or price. Floor plans are chosen by you. Also, you can customize the home with upgrades suited to your styles, such as paint colors, flooring, and cabinetry. But those upgrades can cost a pretty penny and builders aren’t likely to reduce their prices, so you have to find creative compromises when it comes to negotiations, such as the inclusion of certain appliances or features. Communities are so new that some aren’t even equipped yet with services like cable, the Internet, or phone service. Newly constructed homes can be dressed to the nines in high tech gadgets and new age technology. However, on the flip side, new construction communities can seem mass produced, lacking the character and charm of older homes with unique architecture. Get your financial affairs in order, do a bit of searching on the web for a better idea of builders and neighborhoods, then reach out to an agent who specializes in new construction that can guide you through the process of buying your brand new home.
This information is provided courtesy of The Eastside Real Estate Team. Keep us in mind for all your real estate needs. Call us today at 425-200-4093.