- Hiring a licensed home inspector to evaluate the home during construction milestones such as foundation, pre-drywall, and pre-settlement. Many people feel that new homes are free from defects, but being exposed to the elements, human error, and faulty parts can cause deficiencies not otherwise exposed without the use of an inspector.
- Asking for the warranty manual that covers your home and researching what your coverage entails on all components that comprise the home. This diligent research will ensure you are clear on what is covered and for how long. It may also serve as a reminder to purchase your own home warranty a few years down the road. In addition to examining the coverage, you will also want to uncover how simple the process of using the warranty is should, something go wrong.
- Investigating the builder, you are most interested in through various outlets such as the Better Business Bureau, online reviews, community residents, and your realtor. No builder has a perfect record, but a repeated record of complaints and lack of quality may be a sign you should keep shopping.
- Reading the HOA Documents before you schedule the contract. Why? Most HOA’s are set up to keep the community well maintained. The rules are pretty uniform. However, there are times when you may encounter a stricter than usual HOA. I have seen this become a deal-breaker in contracts. New home construction offers a right of rescission period to read your HOA Documents, but my philosophy is better to know sooner rather than later. Not to mention, HOA Docs tend to fall to the side when one is overwhelmed with reading contract docs instead.
- Visiting the county zoning department to understand the long-term plan for the community you have chosen. Understanding how these potential “unknowns” will affect your quality of life or resale value is a key factor in making a purchase decision. Keep in mind though, nothing is definitive.
- Confirming you fully recognize the difference between the standard and upgrade options. The model you may have toured is filled with pricey options. You don’t want to realize you are not getting those options once you see your finished home. Ask detailed questions about selections prior to signing on the dotted line.
- Interviewing various mortgage companies to understand fees, interest rates, and loan structures. The lender working with the builder may not be the best option even when being paired with attractive closing cost incentives.
- Requesting upgrade prices upfront, prior to contract signing. This will give you ample time to decide if doing the upgrades yourself or through the builder is the most cost effective. Some builders have been known to mark up their design studio items as much as 25-100%.
- Budgeting money for all the necessities that are not included with a new construction home. Decks, blinds, patios, and fences will likely need to be purchased after settlement because they are not included in your new home. However, the builder sometimes has agreements in place with various retailers to provide discounts on these items.
- Bringing me, your real estate agent. Blogs like this are great for education, but you need my expertise to protect your interests, negotiate a significant cost-savings, and navigate you through a contract clearly written to protect the builder.
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This blog was written by Nikki Lagouros, VA Licensed Realtor with the CAZA Group. Selling over 130+ Million in Real Estate.