Looking At New Construction? Here are a Few Things to Consider
By: Erin E. Wright, Real Estate Agent with Windermere Real Estate
More and more buyers are turning to New Construction for their home buying needs. This is a result of the changing aesthetic styles, low inventory, and increase in New Construction communities around Clark and Multnomah Counties. For a buyer who is frustrated at what they are seeing in the resale market, New Construction can be a great solution. There are a few things buyers should consider when looking at buying new construction.
1. Choosing a Builder – There are so many builders to choose from in the Clark County and Multnomah County Real Estate Markets, not to mention other markets around the country. First, it is important for buyers to know their budget. Once a price range is nailed down, there will be a group of builders in that price range for the buyer to choose from. Obviously, the aesthetic appeal of the builder is important. However, there are other important factors to consider when choosing a builder. How well does the builder work with the buyer? If the buyer wants to make small to large changes, how does the builder react? What type of warranty does the builder offer? Who will make the repairs under the warranty if issues do come up? How easy is the builder to work with? Can a meeting be arranged with a builder? Some of these questions are easily answered when a buyer goes to visit the builder or builder's representative; this is often done at a model home. However, all builders would have you believe that they are the best, so it is important for buyers to do their research. I often send my clients information on builders from the BBB, Consumer Reports reviews, and other research that can be found online.
2. Working with a Realtor – One thing many clients do not realize, is that most builders have in house agents, or listing agents they hire to do their sales for them. This is the agent buyers normally meet at the model home. This agent is an agent of the builder. Their job is to sell homes for the builder. It is a good idea for a buyer to have their own Real Estate Agent to represent them in the transaction. Most builders will offer the Buyer's Agent a commission, so the buyer will not have to pay their commission. If a buyer has already decided to work with and chosen their Buyer's Agent, it is important for the buyer to mention that right away if they go in to visit a builder or model home without their agent. If a buyer does not mention it and ends up deciding to buy a new construction home, some builders will work with and still pay the Buyer's Agent. However, some builders will make it difficult for the Buyer's Agent to represent their client. This process is usually easier if there is a Buyer's Agency Agreement in place.
3. Negotiating a Deal – Builders do negotiate, however, it is not always apparent or easy to know how to negotiate with a builder. Most builders will get the price they are asking for a home, especially one that is not yet built. This is because the price a person pays for a home becomes public record. Therefore, if the builder sells one buyer a home for $5,000 less than the asking price, all other buyers will be able to find that information and use it as a negotiating strategy when buying their homes. Instead, builders tend to be much more willing to negotiate on finishes, upgrades, changes, and even closing costs for the buyers of their homes. Since these items do not become public record, a builder is much more willing to negotiate on them. To be able to effectively negotiate for upgraded finishes, changes, and closing costs, it is important to have a list of what is standard for the builder in the neighborhood a buyer is looking at. Once the buyer knows what is standard, then the buyer needs to decide what is on their dream list above and beyond what the builder already offers. It is usually a good idea to come up with several items with a total value of 1-3% of the purchase price. Buyers should include those items on their offer and expect to negotiate from there. More likely than not, the builder will not give the buyer everything they have asked for, but will agree to some of the items as part of the deal, thereby increasing the value of the buyer's home.
4. Picking & Paying for Finishes – Builders love to create beautiful model homes that showcase their ability to build a beautiful home. However, these model homes are usually filled with options and upgraded finishes that do not come standard with the home. When a buyer is out looking at a model home, it is always a good idea to ask the builder or builder's representative, what in the home is standard, what is an upgrade, and if the builder were to build this home on one of their available lots, what would they sell it for? It is also a good idea to ask if there is a price sheet available for all upgrades and options, so the buyer can see up front what each one will cost them. Now these are the items that can be negotiated on. However, it is important for a buyer to know what the finishes and options they like will cost them.
5. Inspection – Many buyers do not think it is necessary to have an inspection on New Construction. It is a new home, so everything must be in perfect condition and working order, right? It is rare for a home to undergo a professional inspection and not raise issues, this includes new construction. It is important to have an inspection once the home is completed to bring those issues to light. If the inspector does discover issues with the home, ask the builder to fix those items prior to closing (ideal) or within 30 days of closing (sometimes necessary based on timelines). It is important to put these expectations up front in the offer to buy the house, so the builder is contractually obligated to allow a buyer to have a professional inspection and fix the issues that arise at the inspection within a specific timeframe.
For additional information on buying new construction, or other real estate questions, feel free to contact me.
ErinWright@Windermere.com or (360) 356-1445
Your Local Realtor,
Erin E. Wright
Proudly Serving My Clients and My Community!