Buying a new construction home requires a different process than buying a home that has already been lived in. You will have to ask different questions, fill out different paperwork and make sure your rights and finances are protected in different ways.
With a new construction home you are purchasing something that is brand new, something that might not even be finished when you start drawing up the paperwork. No one will be able to tell you what it is like to live in the home and whether it has any quirks you need to be aware of - and don't think the fact that it has never been lived in means it won't have issues.
Throughout the purchase process of a new construction home, it is your duty to find out as much as you possibly can about both the property and the builder. You will also need to make sure you have several written agreements to protect yourself.
Before you make an offer
Before you make an offer on a new construction home, hire your own real estate agent. Ali Johnson, a Florida real estate agent who specializes in new construction, told Trulia that many homebuyers do not consider a real estate agent necessary when buying a newly constructed home because they already have the builder's sales agent helping them through the process. What many buyers fail to recognize, however, is that the sales agent is not looking out for their best interests. Rather, he or she is trying to close a sale and earn commission.
Hiring your own real estate agent means your best interests will be represented. Redfin emphasized the importance of making sure the agent you choose is not affiliated with the builder.
You will also want to learn everything you can about the builder before deciding whether or not you want to work with him or her. Legal advisory website Nolo explained that it does not really matter how beautiful the home looks if your builder is not trustworthy and has a reputation of not keeping promises. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where your house begins falling apart after you move in and the builder has disappeared.
To make sure your builder is reputable, Redfin suggested speaking with other homeowners who have previously worked with him or her as well as checking online for reviews. Nolo recommended speaking to real estate agents who have spent a lot of time working in the area to see what they have heard about the builder. You can also contact the local Better Business Bureau to find out if anyone has filed a complaint against the builder.
Drawing up contracts
Every single thing you want to happen must be in writing and signed by all parties involved. Redfin suggested buyers avoid signing anything until every issue regarding the home has been agreed on and added to the contract. For example, the home you have decided to purchase may not be finished yet. Make sure the contract includes a completion date as well as an explanation of what will happen if the completion date is not met.
Nolo explained that oftentimes, contracts for new construction homes favor the builder. They typically give the buyer many steadfast deadlines regarding payments, loan acquisition and more, while the builder is given more flexibility regarding when he or she can complete each necessary task. It is up to you and your real estate agent to negotiate the best possible deal you can. Make sure there is a period of time during which you have the power to walk away from the home without losing any money if the builder does not live up to his or her end of the bargain.
Getting the home inspected
A new construction home still needs a home inspection. In fact, sometimes it needs more than one. Keith Thompson, a real estate broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Carolinas Realty in Charlotte, North Carolina told Trulia why home inspections are so important for these new homes:
"As the housing market has heated up, the pace of construction has also increased," he said. "Overworked subcontractors and city or county inspectors are human and can and do make mistakes when they have too much on their plate."
Nolo recommended getting three home inspections throughout the building process, one after the foundation is poured, one after the framing is done and one when the entire home is complete. A periodic home inspection will catch more mistakes. For example, a home inspector will be able to more easily detect issues with wires that will be behind walls before the walls are put up. Of course, you may have purchased the home after building was complete, and in that case just make sure to get a thorough inspection.
According to Redfin, home inspection contingencies can be a bit different for new construction homes. Builders may agree to repair any issues that are not compliant with building codes, but they may not allow you to walk away with your deposit if you are not pleased with the results of the inspection.
Warranties and what's included
Getting a warranty is key to making sure you are financially protected once you move in. It is important that you read your warranties in detail and understand exactly what you are being covered for. According to Nolo, the best warranties come from independent insurance companies rather than straight from the builder. If you decide to buy your own, make sure it covers major structural issues.
If developers show you a model home, keep in mind everything inside it may not also come with your home. Make sure you find out which amenities and fixtures are simply there to show you the possibilities of what you can do in your own home and which ones will actually be included.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to purchasing a new construction home. Remember, the right real estate agent can help you through this overwhelming process.