At one time or another many of us have found ourselves falling for the romantic notion of building our own home. We dream about what it will be, an illusion of perfection every bit as pronounced as when we first dreamt of who our children would become. Remember the attention to detail as you prepared for your first- born child? Now you may remember the endless number of granite selections you previewed before finding that perfect sample with just the right blend of exotic warmth and uncommon familiarity!
In my experience, no home is completely perfect, even when you build it yourself. So, how do you know if it is worth the experience, the highs and lows, the excitement and disappointment? Following is my list of “thinking points” based on building my own home and working with others who want to do the same.
#1 – NO HOME IS PERFECT
I know I’ve already said that. But it is worth repeating, especially when home buyers get those dreamy eyes. It can be wonderful, but it’s not for everyone. I’ve talked to many people who say they want to build a home so that they will have less maintenance to do. While it is true, an older home may require a longer “to-do” list, a newly built home will still have a list. You’ll have a “punch list” for the builder to do after you’ve moved in. Your new home will still require maintenance to keep it in top shape. And, you may be hanging blinds, painting walls and installing ceiling fans for quite a while (or hiring someone to do it for you).
#2 – IS THE PROCESS FRUSTRATING OR FUN?
The process can be tedious or it can tap into the best of your creativity. Do you have the time to invest? Who will take the lead, you or your partner? Do either of you enjoy looking at hundreds of samples to find just the right one? Honestly answering questions like these before you sign the new construction contract can save a lot of frustration during the process. Sometimes home buyers are surprised by how many details are involved. For some, making decisions on what color carpet or what color hardwood floor stain to choose is fun. But when they realize the magnitude of the options, along with the large number of other selections necessary – they get lost in the minutiae and overwhelmed by the time required. Others enjoy making trips to all the various suppliers – looking at slabs of granite in Merrifield, heading over to Springfield to check out faucets, driving to Manassas to see tile options & more. An honest evaluation of what is required & who will handle it is imperative.
#3 – WHICH BUILDER SHOULD I CHOOSE?
This question can be crucial to how you experience the process of building. It is becoming increasingly more important when so many new builders are popping up with lots on your street and on the street where you want to be. How do you choose? What are the decision points? For every person, the answer can be different, but generally it is best to work with a builder who has long-term experience, an excellent reputation and who will likely be around long enough to address warranty & other issues after you move in. It’s also important to look at the quality the builder provides in terms of standards & finishes. When the builder sends you out to drive by homes to look at the exterior color selections, get out of your car and walk the neighborhood. Talk to previous homebuyers to get a sense of their experiences with the builder. What were the issues? How did the builder respond to them after the sale? Would they do it again?
#4 – TAKE A LOOK AT A FEW RESALE HOMES
There are so many great options in our market for homes built in the past five years. These homes are sometimes better than new because they have all the kinks worked out. They have blinds & window treatments, mature landscaping that can be lovely and you can get a sense of what your neighborhood will be like. When my husband and I built our home in 2008, we chose a lot in a neighborhood of 15 “to be built” homes. Ours was the first built. We had no sense of what our community would be like. Fortunately for us, it turned out great. We have a wonderful neighborhood. It is the right place for us, but it is much easier to know that in an established neighborhood. New is not for everyone. You may find a near perfect match in a nearly new home.
#5 – SHOULD I HIRE A REALTOR?
Of course the answer to that is “YES”. But, you may wonder why. Some builders will tell you they will give you a discount if you work with them without hiring a Realtor. Is that true? You certainly don’t want to pay more than you should. The simple answer to that is that builders (not buyers) save money when they do not have to pay commission. In my experience, builders sell their homes for market price and do not discount homes for any reason not having to do with market factors. They may say they are reducing the price, or even rebate you some of what the commission would have been. But when it’s all netted out, you’ve added your options, and come to a final price – it’s still a market price. Adjustments are made in other areas. And the price you pay is usually not any different than what a Buyer with a Realtor would have paid. In fact, in our experience, it’s often more.
Working with a Realtor with experience in new construction can help you sort through all of the issues I’ve discussed here. We know the market, know which options are worth the money and negotiate on your behalf to get the absolute best price. Because we represent builders in our practice as well as buyers, we also know a lot of the “behind the scenes” calculations. And we may be able to get you more for your money because of that. In addition, we can also advise you about things such as pre-drywall inspections & resale issues. It may be in the builder’s best interest if you don’t hire a Realtor….. but it is NOT in yours.
If you find yourself with dreamy new construction eyes, contact a new construction expert at The Belt Team. If you dream it, we will help you get it built!
Here are some of the new homes we have listed that are under construction now:
Written by Susan Hussey, Realtor Partner, The Belt Team