One of the biggest steps you can take is to hire an agent who isn’t affiliated with the builder. They’ll help you structure an appealing offer to the builder, figure out how to negotiate for the best terms and navigate the process. Some new developments have registration policies that require your agent to accompany you on your first visit, so have your agent check on the policies before heading to check out a model home if you don’t want them getting butted out of the agreement.
Besides just seeing the product in person during a model home tour, search for more information about the home quality and builder reputation online through news reports, reviews from other buyers and testimonials. Don’t panic if you see a bad review; every business has an unhappy customer or two. Look for any trends in the reviews of consistent problems, and make sure to voice any concerns with the site agent or builder rep.
Don’t expect the builder to budge when it comes to dropping prices; when a neighborhood is first starting out their main goal is to keep prices as stable as possible. Ask instead for upgrades to the home or help with closing costs; the move can help build up the value of the home and save you thousands.
It’s easy to just choose the builder’s lender to finance the home, but consider other options before making your final decision if you want to make sure you’re saving the most money possible. Shop around for the loan package that’s right for you, not them, and see if any other lenders will match the competitive promotions being offered.
In some situations, like when a neighborhood is in the very early stages of development, the builder’s lender may be the only option. The builder may also require you to be preapproved by their lender, whether you plan to use them for the final loan or not, so they can be confident that you really are qualified to purchase the home.
Model homes often feature a mix of standard features and materials as well as some upgrades, so make sure to have the builder rep list out which are which. When you sign the paperwork you want to know exactly what you’re signing up for, and how much exactly it’s going to cost.
Most builders have a list of all available features, both standard and upgrades, available for potential buyers to view. Just ask for it.
Builders often use customized purchase agreements in place of the standard local purchase and sale agreement forms. Ask for a copy to review in advance and make sure to carefully read all the provisions regarding things like the building timeline, what happens if the home ends up taking longer to complete and what features the home will include. When it comes to negotiated features and the timeline of completion, get everything in writing.
Just because it’s a new home doesn’t mean it’s problem free; hire an independent inspector for an inspection of the home’s safety and compliance with local codes. It’s much easier to have the builder address any issues before you move into the home, plus easier to back out of the agreement if there’s a major problem.
The majority of new homes come with a warranty from the builder, but not all warranties cover what you would think. Some cover the home from top to bottom, others may leave select things out or have separate warranties with shorter timeframes. Find out what’s covered and for how long by asking the builder rep, and make sure to get it in writing.
Is that two-lane road behind the neighborhood about to be turned into an expressway? Is that preserve in your backyard slated to be developed into something else? Was the neighborhood built on swampland that will tend to flood in rainy weather? Check with the city and local news outlets to see what’s planned for around the neighborhood as soon as possible and talk with any neighbors to see if they’ve experienced any problems.
It’s also important to get the numbers on any HOA and CDD fees tied to the neighborhood, as well as a heads up on if those are going to be going up or down once development wraps. If the community is a golf community or has other club amenities, it would also be wise to double check on any membership fees associated with using the amenities.