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New Home Contruction Buying Tips

Nothing beats the feeling of living in a new home. Everything is shiny and new and untouched. You can buy a brand-new home in one of three ways: buying a house already built on spec; having a semicustom home built as part of a development (you can choose from a set selection of finishes and upgrades); or having a purely custom home designed and built to your specifications. Before you get caught up in the sparkling new paint and granite countertops here are some of the pros and cons of new home construction and things to consider when determining whether or not new construction meets your lifestyle.



Many homebuilders allow buyers to help design the property, which helps create a living space tailored to your tastes. New-home buyers, for example, can often decide where their bathroom might go, choose their favorite flooring or pick the exterior paint color. Buyers moving into a subdivision can sometimes pick the lot they like best.

Newly constructed homes use energy more efficiently. First, they must follow current building codes and tend to be more tightly-sealed, this helps prevent conditioned air — cool air in the summer, warm air in the winter — from escaping. Features that create this include higher-efficiency insulation, doors and windows. Operating costs are also lower with newer homes since they are more likely to be energy efficient.

More energy-efficient mechanics of the house also help reduce utility bills for new-home buyers, New homes often include green systems and appliances — such as high-efficiency stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, water heaters, furnaces or air conditioning units — that homes built years ago might not.

Fewer repairs and less maintenance. New homes are engineered specifically to minimize maintenance requirements.

New homes come with a warranty. Builders often agree to take care of the necessary repair work in a new home for at least the first year. So if your roof starts leaking or the heater breaks during the warranty period, your builder will pick up the tab for the repairs.

New homes often include fire-safety features that may not be in properties built years ago. All new homes are required to include hard-wired smoke detectors. These devices can provide better protection than battery-operated smoke detectors, which can fail if their battery runs out.

New-home buyers can take advantage of mortgage-financing perks available through their builder. New-home builders — in many cases, the larger ones — have their own mortgage companies, or they will offer paying points or closing costs and buy down certain rates for you. It's important to know that builders can't require you to use their preferred lender. You still get to choose your home loan. But an offer from a builder's lender does give you another point of comparison to weigh as you choose the best mortgage for your financial needs.

Here's the best part. Many builders offer free upgrades or additional amenities depending on your situation. Working with a knowledgeable agent can help you negotiate through all the possibilities.



Don't let the lure of "new" sell you without hearing some possible downfalls. First and foremost, you can't assume that a new construction home is in perfect condition. You should still get the property inspected by a professional home inspector prior to purchase to make sure that everything is properly installed and in good working order.

Builders usually start communities where there's open land. So if you buy into a new suburban development, you'll likely find yourself further away from a city center. This could make your commute to activities or work much longer--and more expensive. The distance could also make the home harder to sell down the road, especially if the property is competing with newer houses with more updated amenities.

In this uncertain economy make certain the you choose a financially sound builder. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of construction and find out that the builder is either unwilling or unable to complete the construction.

You may want or need to spend more money on exterior projects, since there won't be mature landscaping. Are you willing to coax a new lawn into existence, and can you wait 20 years for sapling trees to mature?

If the home is in a new development you don't necessarily know what the character of the neighborhood will be, as opposed to an established area that already has a "personality."

Finally, since we can't control everything--especially Mother Nature--remember that any time there's construction involved, a home buyer needs to be prepared for delays. So don't be surprised if your move-in date gets pushed back.


So how do you get started? Here are a few suggestions and questions that you should ask yourself and the builder.

First, do your research! Research the neighborhoods and builders. When buying in a new subdivision, consider working with a buyer's agent who knows the area well, can set up home tours and walk you through the closing process. If you have your own agent, tell him/her up front that you're interested in looking at new homes. They must accompany you on your first visit to any new subdivision; if they don't, the builder's sales rep will get the full commission if you buy a home there.

When researching neighborhoods:

  • Look online for new home listings
  • Drive around the neighborhood and check out the amenities and the quality of the homes.
  • Walk the community and ask neighbors about their experience.
  • Go to model open houses, keep a journal and take photographs. Don't try to cover every model house in the area in one day.
  • Check with the developer about potential homeowners' association (HOA) fees and rules; some are incredibly expensive -- and strict. Be sure to find out if the HOA can assess penalties for infractions.
  • Ask whether cable and Internet are readily available and from what companies; your new house will most likely be wired for cable but that does not mean the cable company offers service to your neighborhood.
  • If the development is still under construction, you may be dodging giant contractor trucks and facing jackhammering at 7 a.m. for a while.

When researching builders:

• Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints on file against your builder's company.
• Ask local real estate agents if the builder has a good reputation in the community.
• Visit your builder's previously constructed homes; ask the occupants whether the quality and craftsmanship has stood the test of time, use and weather.

Questions to ask:

  • Are you a subdivision type of person? Will the cookie-cutter nature make you go bonkers? Do you mind closeness and the potential loss of privacy?
  • Ask about amenities and upgrades. Amenities are features that benefit the entire community like a clubhouse, health and fitness center or a gated entrance. Upgrades refer to added features or items you pay extra for to enhance your home, like certain types of flooring or appliances.
  • Ask for a feature sheet on the line of homes you're interested in and read them very carefully, then compare feature to feature. Find out what comes with the base home price.
  • If you don't understand exactly what is offered, ask and take notes. Not knowing can cost you real money.
  • If the stove is included, visit the showroom to see the model. If you're offered the basic stove and you're a gourmet cook, it makes sense to buy the upgrade.
  • Make decisions on upgrades early in the process -- every change costs money.
  • Have an idea of what you want and need. These are two different things when it comes to upgrades.
  • What type of warranty comes with the home? Warranties vary widely so read the fine print. Typically, warranties run from as little as one year to as many as five years. It's as important to understand what the warranty doesn't cover as it is to know what the warranty covers.
  • What amenities are included and are there additional fees?
  • How much can I afford? Pre-qualifying your financial capability is critical in the process. Complete this step first to make it a smoother journey.
  • Are you ready to sign the contract? If you're not comfortable with the legal process, have your contract reviewed by an attorney. Remember, sign nothing until you fully understand the meaning of the words.


Purchasing a new construction home can be an exciting and rewarding experience. With the knowledge above and your own research you'll be armed with the information you need to make informed decisions and enjoy a smooth process. Once you've completed your research you'll be ready to take a tour of model homes. Choosing the right professional to guide you through this process is critical to your success. At Century 21 Selling Paradise we have a group of professionals who have been through rigorous training and obtained the Southwest Florida New Home Construction certification. These individuals would be honored to help you through the process. Click the link below to engage your specialist today.



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