Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Do’s of Buying New Construction

Today, the American dream seems to consist of owning a new home, not just any home. According to industry sources more than 70 percent of home buyers want a new house.
While new construction buyers are preoccupied with visions of spotless carpets and faultless faucets, it is my job to act as their voice of reason. The fact is buying a newly built home is not necessarily easier than buying an existing home. Buyers can not let down their guard. To be a proactive new construction buyer, follow my advice below.

Do have your own real estate agent. Many buyers mistakenly believe that using the developers’ sales agent will get them a better deal. Register your agent’s name with the builder and determine if he/she is required to be with you on the first and/or all visits. Then your agent is the point of contact between the salesperson/builder and you, the buyer.

Do find a reputable builder. It is not that difficult to research builders especially if they have other subdivisions in the area and if you have chosen where you want to build talk with homebuyers there. The reality is that some builders cut corners while others make sure the home they produce is top quality. There is also a wide-ranging difference in builders’ customer service after the sale.

Do review the builder’s warranty. Some builders offer their own one-year “bumper to bumper” warranty and some offer the preferred 2-10 home warranty which is guaranteed by a third party and covers serious structural defects for up to 10 years.

Do stay involved. It is crucial to be a regular presence on site to check for fireplace size, closet locations, rooflines, etc. Ask questions and speak up as soon as issues arise.

Do hold that lot. Put a deposit check down to secure the lot you want. Afterward, most builders will expect a sales contract within 2 to 10 days.

Do have a home inspection performed. Never waive your right to a walk-through and a home inspection prior to closing. I believe this to be so important that I provide a free home inspection to my clients. Remember, even well-meaning builders can omit features or make mistakes and an inspector is your last line of defense before closing.

Do consider resale features. When people build a home for themselves the tendency is to customize to their family alone. Although many buyers say this is their last house, it is rarely the case, so build a house with some resale characteristics in mind. Also, you don’t want to be the most expensive house in the neighborhood, this too may hamper the home’s resale ability.

Do negotiate. Although the negotiating process of offers/counteroffers is not as commonplace in the new construction realm but in today’s market many builders are willing to throw in extras such as a fireplace or upgrades such as the heating/cooling system to make the sale. Smaller builders are usually more likely to negotiate and inventory or spec homes are more likely to be negotiated.