Steve Hunking*, *Sales Representative

New Homes: What You Should Look for in New Homes...
New Homes: What You Should Look for in New Homes...
by Jonathan Lammers

Communities, neighborhoods and modern conveniences are just a few of the reasons homebuyers choose new homes. But before deciding on your new dream house, make sure to do your homework and find the right builder for your needs and budget.

Finding a Builder

Summary Points
1. Look for an experienced builder with a good reputation.

2. Use your budget and how long you plan to stay in the home as helpful guides.

3. Find out what options are available for your home.

4. Choose a location that fits your needs and budget.

Look for an experienced builder with a reputation for quality workmanship and customer satisfaction. A great way to find a builder is to ask your real estate agent for a recommendation. Your agent can also guide you through tours of homes in new subdivisions, and help you make notes about your favorite houses and who built them. Once you've made a list, try contacting homeowners who previously worked with the builder and find out how satisfied they are with their homes.

Remember, too, that the model homes builders use to showcase their work may differ from other homes in the same development. For this reason, speak with the builder early on so you can find out exactly what options you'll have for appliances, cabinets, trim work, landscaping, paint colors, etc. Your builder will want you to enjoy your new home, so don't be afraid to ask about adding personal touches to get exactly what you want.

Choosing the Location or Lot

Try to find a location that suits both your lifestyle and budget. While factors like access to work and shopping are important no matter where you live, bear in mind that even lots within the same development can have drastically different prices. For example, a lot overlooking the 18th hole of a championship golf course will likely cost more than an interior lot a few blocks away. It's also important to find out whether your location is subject to any restrictions, homeowner's covenants or special assessments such as sewer and road fees.

Important Factors for Choosing the Right Location
  1. Access to employment, shopping and transit
  2. Convenience to recreation and parks
  3. Quality of the local schools
  4. Fire, police and utility services
  5. Nearby zoning
  6. Covenants, restrictions and special assessments

Negotiating a Price and Upgrades

When it comes to negotiating a price for your new home, it's wise to have a real estate agent representing you. Though deals can sometimes be found at the beginning or end of a new development, it takes an experienced agent to help evaluate different prices and handle the negotiation. One area where you may have the most room to negotiate is for construction upgrades. For example, you might agree to pay the full asking price in exchange for a custom fireplace and higher quality kitchen cabinets.

Your Warranty

Virtually all new homes come with warranties covering structural defects and major systems such as the plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems. Make sure to speak with the builder beforehand about exactly what is covered and for how long. Another good idea is having the house inspected by a professional before construction is complete. Even the best builders occasionally make mistakes, but an experienced inspector can help identify problems during construction when they're easier to fix. To find a new house inspector, ask your agent for a recommendation.