Your New Construction Home Buyer’s Guide

Your New Construction Home Buyer’s Guide

Newly built homes can offer fewer hassles, higher efficiency, and increased customization — but there’s more to it than that. 

Let’s have a look at some of the issues and opportunities to consider when weighing the options of purchasing new construction vs. an existing residential property. 

8 Key Advantages Of Buying New 

  1. You’re able to have your builder customize the home before construction is completed, so it will be built with your personal preferences of color schemes, flooring, material finishes, or even window placements or room arrangements. 
  2. With new construction or pre-construction purchases, all the work is done for you. You don’t have to lift a finger, a paint brush, or a hammer — and, before you move in, your builder will do a complete walk through and take care of any punch-list items you may have. 
  3. New homes usually include cutting edge design elements that modern day lifestyles demand. Like open kitchens, custom countertops and cabinetry, roomy walk-in closets, spacious master baths, ample electric outlets, and high-tech insulation treatments to name a few. 
  4. A big financial benefit of new properties is that you won’t have to do much maintenance. With brand new appliances, fixtures, plumbing, and HVAC systems you should be repair-free for at least several years. Plus, everything should be covered under brand new warranties. 
  5. Utilizing new construction materials, just-built homes are likely to be highly energy efficient, translating to lower utility bills. 
  6. New homes are often equipped with the latest technology built right in – think alarm systems, speaker systems, internet wiring, and cable – saving you lots of time, money — and holes in the walls. 
  7. You’re moving into a home that will be fresh, fully finished, and absolutely made just for you. Oh, and that “new house smell” … definitely a great way to begin creating your home. 
  8. Newer homes often have lower insurance replacement costs because they are less prone to environmental and accidental damage compared to older homes. 

8 Considerations To Keep In Mind

  1. Brand new homes generally cost more – not always – but on a square footage basis they can cost up to 20% more than a similar existing home. After all, new stuff has greater value. This is why your resale value will be higher, too. 
  2. All those modern-day amenities displayed in the model home can really add up. Upgraded features can end up costing you much more than you intended. Exercise prudence when considering your upgrade packages to keep within your budget. 
  3. Many new construction neighborhoods may be on the outskirts of your primary destinations. Like schools, supermarkets and shopping centers. Also, if you’re one of the first to move into a new development, you may be living in a construction zone for a while. Be sure to ask about the developers plans for the neighborhood. 
  4. If you’re looking for a lovely, quaint, tree-lined older neighborhood that has a well-established community of neighbors, you might be disappointed in a new development. 
  5. New homes may have less character or historical charm that many older homes can provide. In time, as landscapes mature and neighbors take root this changes, but if you’re looking for established “charm” it may be hard to find in new construction neighborhoods. 
  6. New properties may not excite DIY buyers who like engaging in projects to customize and upgrade themselves. Those who take pleasure in fixing up a home or tailoring it to their preferences might find that brand new homes aren’t a good fit. 
  7. New homes may be built on smaller lots than some older home options. If you’re looking for that big backyard – and lots of space between your house and the next door neighbor’s – it may be more difficult to find in a new build. 
  8. Older homes can have hidden problems. Legal disclosures or independent inspections don’t always reveal these. 

6 Key Steps to Buying New Construction 

1. Find Your Location 

Choosing the right neighborhood is almost as important as choosing the right home. After all, your family needs outside of home should be a high priority. 

Access to good infrastructure that allows you to get around quickly to work, schools, supermarkets, entertainment, bike trails, open space and other important venues leads to greater happiness. 

Ask yourself what the most important features of a neighborhood are. What makes a neighborhood special to you? Remember that you’re thinking not just about your own preferences but about all the members of your family. What’s important? 

  • Quiet streets or a busier, active area? 
  • Walking to amenities? 
  • Nearby parks with playgrounds and trees? 
  • Close proximity to work, shopping, restaurants, and entertainment? 
  • Retirement environment ? Or a family raising setting? 
  • Nearby schools? 
  • Public transportation? 
  • Long-term neighborhood value? 

Now that you have that perfect neighborhood pictured in your mind, let’s look at the next steps to bring it all together. 

2. Know Your Builder 

While it may seem like new construction is the perfect choice, there are lots of lifestyle factors to consider first. After all, you’re not just buying a house – you’re buying a home – and a neighborhood. 

Your new home is one of the most significant purchases you will make for lifestyle and investment growth. Selecting a quality well-known home builder is critical to assure many happy years of home life and increasing home value for you and your family. 

Fortunately, access to information about homebuilders is better than ever. Search online for information about previous projects, customer experiences, and anything related to a home builder’s performance. 

Speaking with real estate professionals and others who have dealt with a particular builder will help you to develop a feeling for their construction quality as well as their responsiveness to customer service issues. 

3. Choose Your Design and Amenities 

Design

The first thing to think about when starting to design your home is the type of floor plan that will best suit the way you want to live. 

On the surface, floor plans look like simple boxes on a page. But your home’s floor plan will dictate how your family will move around in the space: which traffic areas move more quickly and which invite people to slow down, pause, relax. Your floor plan will indicate where you want people to gather 

and where you want to create spaces for quiet reflection or focused productivity. In short, it’s how you want your house to function. 

When selecting a floor plan that works with your lifestyle, consider: 

  • Do you prefer formal or informal spaces – or a balance of both? 
  • Is your entertaining more family-style, cocktail party, or in between? 
  • What balance do you want to strike between gathering spaces and private sanctuaries? 
  • Do you plan to use areas of your home for work or study? 
  • Will you needa “mud-space” to store outdoor clothes and boots? 
  • How many family members will be sharing bathrooms? Which will be primary, which might serve as guest service? 
  • How do you envision using outdoor spaces? Entertaining or dining? An extension of your living room? A place for children to play? 

Amenities 

Modern homes built by quality builders will offer countless amenities to choose from. Spas, home office, outdoor cooking spaces and/or fireplaces, specialty wiring packages, in-home theatres… your choices are many. 

A quality builder will have models to show or detailed blueprints for you to examine and envision how they will function for you. Be sure to make a wish list and ask your builder questions so you can determine what design and amenities are just right for you. 

4. Inspections 

If you’re buying a new construction home, you might assume that a home inspection isn’t necessary. After all, it was built from scratch and customized to your exact preferences. No one else has ever lived there, and no time has passed for anything to break or go wrong. Plus, hasn’t the local building department signed off on everything? Wouldn’t a home inspection waste your limited time and money? 

Though it would seem that new homes should be relatively error-free, according to many third-party inspectors, new homes often have underlying issues that need correcting. 

  • Structural defects, like foundation cracks, improper grading, and poor framing 
  • Drainage and grading issues, which could cause water and structural damage later on 
  • Window leaks 
  • HVAC issues, including malfunctioning thermostats and loose connections 
  • Electrical problems, such as improperly wired outlets, open grounds and missing switch plates 
  • Plumbing issues, including reversed hot/cold in faucets, improper piping, leaks, and more 

Inspectors say they also often find incomplete projects. This could include insufficient insulation, half-installed handrails or fixtures, or missing pieces of hardware. 

It’s just wise to have a third-party conduct a final inspection to your satisfaction before closing. A professional builder will encourage you to do this because it also protects them from post-closing problems they may have overlooked. 

5. Warranties 

If you buy a new construction, make sure you get a Builder Warranty. But don’t bank on that warranty covering everything that might go wrong with your home. While you should try to get as much coverage from your builder as possible, repairs and maintenance fees are all part of home-ownership. 

A Builder Warranty primarily covers workmanship issues and has a limited time for claims. A Home Warranty is different. These provide coverage for things like windows, appliances, etc. 

Be sure to go over the warranties thoroughly so you understand what is and isn’t covered. 

6. Closing on Your New Home 

You’ve signed a contract, qualified for a mortgage and finally, the waiting is over. Your builder notifies you that your new home is completed and ready for closing. What happens next? 

Professional builders want their buyers to have a smooth and pleasant closing. To accomplish this, they develop processes that make it easy for buyers to move from design to amenity selection, loan prequalification to intermittent inspections, a final inspection and then the transaction closing. 

Choose a builder who has a seasoned start-to-finish process in place and your home buying experience will be stress-free. 

Smart Steps for First Time Homebuyers 

Before you hit the trail to find the perfect neighborhood, home, and builder, a little financial preparation will serve you very well. 

Know Your Budget

Knowing your budget is step one. Although you might have a feel for what you think you can afford, having the advice from a professional mortgage lender who has examined your financials is the right way to go. This way you’ll know your maximum and can shop and negotiate prices within those limits. 

Start Saving

Whether you already have your down payment in hand or need to save for it, it’s always good to keep socking money away for homeownership as early as you can. 

Get Pre Qualified

If you aren’t sure where to turn for your financing options, your builder will very likely be able to recommend one or two experts who understand new construction lending. Then, make your application and get prequalified. The reasons why this step is so important are easy to understand. 

  • A buyer who is prequalified is able to negotiate prices from a stronger position. 
  • You will know the high-end of your budget when you start considering location, designs, and amenities. 
  • By taking this step up-front, you will reduce stress throughout the entire process. 

Check For Assistance Or Grant Programs

 First-time homeowner grants work in conjunction with low-down-payment mortgages. For example, FHA mortgages typically require a down payment of 3.5 percent of the purchase price of a home. There are conventional mortgage programs that allow you to buy a home with a down payment of just 3 percent of the purchase price. 

First-time homeowner grants are designed to cover the down payment requirement. The combination of the grant plus the first mortgage will enable you to purchase a home with a zero down payment. 

These programs are for first-time homebuyers of a primary residence, however some define a first-time homebuyer as someone who has not owned a home within the past three years. 

There are probably more grant programs available in your area than you have ever imagined. The best way to get information on program availability is to contact your local government office, including your state, county, and municipality. They are often the sponsors of the grant programs, or can also recommend private source grant programs as well. 

Still another source are mortgage lenders themselves. Since they typically work with various grant programs in the area, they are likely to be aware of those that are most popular. 

Compare and Research Rates

 Interest rates fluctuate on a daily basis. So before you lock in an interest rate, do some comparison among a variety of lenders to make sure what you’re being offered is competitive and fair. 

Shop Shop Shop

 In the early days of your research, be sure to visit as many open houses in a variety of neighborhoods that match your desired location. This will give you a solid understanding of what is available, what the prevailing prices are, and why. 

Negotiate From A Position Of Strength

Just because you’re a first-time homebuyer, it doesn’t mean you lose the ability to negotiate on 

price and cost of amenities. Your builder wants to make a sale and doesn’t much care if you’re new on the scene or a seasoned buyer. 

If you’re pre-qualified for your loan and have your down payment in place, you are just like a cash buyer. So use the confidence to negotiate your best deal possible. 

It’s Your Future. Have Fun. Choose Wisely. 

This article was prepared by Generation Homes NW, a modern homebuilder based out of Vancouver, WA who has been serving homeowners in the Pacific Northwest for more than 30 years. If you would like to discuss the opportunities we currently have for you, please contact us today