Buying a home can seem monumental. But, you’ve taken the first step: investigating the options. What type of home do you want? What’s important when you are buying? Do you want a new home or a resale? What things do you need to consider when selecting a builder? These are all important, and we want to help you with a few simple answers.
What type of home do you want?
First of all, ask yourself what you are looking for, based on space needs and lifestyle choices:
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Special purpose rooms: den/office; sewing/crafts; music
- Do you need a basement for storage or hobbies?
- Do you need a garage? How many cars? Do you need additional parking space?
- How big of a yard do you want? Do you have pets? Do you like to garden?
- Do you have, or plan to have children? If so, how many? How old are they?
- How long do you plan to live in this house? Do you anticipate any changes in your wants/needs of your home?
Where do you want to buy?
Location is a critical component of the home selection process. From where you work to where your kids will go to school. You have to find a location that satisfies as many of your needs as possible, and hopefully a few of your wants, too.
- What is the commute like? Are you with or against traffic during rush hour?
- Is convenient access to major highways important to you?
- Where are the schools? Is your community serviced by the school bus system, or do you have to take your children to school?
- Where are your conveniences? Grocery. Drycleaners.
Do you want a new home or a resale?
You’ve listed your wants and needs, and considered location. Now it’s time to look at what homes are available in the area, and if you want a new home or a resale. A few things to consider are:
- Age of the house. A resale doesn’t come with a warranty program, and could have repair issues. If you are considering a resale, get a complete inspection by a certified professional. This inspection will be required by the lender you choose and is just smart business. An inspection will alert you to current and potential problems with the house, from structural to electrical to draining, and more.
- Property values in the area. You want to be sure to look back through the last year’s home sales to see the trend of prices. If you use your own agent, he/she will help you with comparables.
- You get what you get. When buying a resale, you do not have the benefit of selection as you do with a new home. You can re-carpet or repaint without too much difficulty. But plumbing fixtures, kitchen flooring, cabinetry, and countertops are not as simple, and can be costly to replace.
If you are considering a new home, the biggest decision you will make is who will build your home. This is a choice that involves a number of considerations:
- Where do they build? What do they build?
- Location is easy. You’ve already decided the area in which you want to live. So, what builders build there?
- Type of home: Single-family or townhome? Two-story traditional, to a one-story (ranch)? Garage? Basement? What elevation do you prefer? Brick. Siding. Stone.
But beyond what appear to be the two most important considerations when you are looking for a home lies the most important one: Who is building it? When looking at communities, don’t get so caught up in the aesthetics of what you are buying that you forget to find out who is behind it all. The choice of a builder is critical.
- Builder experience: How long has your builder been in business?
- Builder reputation: What is the word on the street about them? Can you talk to other homeowners to hear their experiences?
- Warranty program: What is their warranty program? Is it an in-house program, or contracted by a third party? Third party contracts can be difficult. Remember, the minute you close on your home, you are no longer under the care of the builder. Your home is now yours, and any problems you have become a warranty issue. If the warranty service is handled by a third party, you may not receive the care and attention you expect. When your builder manages the warranty service, they have added incentive to ensure you are satisfied. A builder’s best referral is a happy homeowner.
What questions should you ask the builder’s sales representative?
- Ask about the process itself:
- What is the standard features list?
- What ISN’T included in the base price? Often the models have extras in them. You may like what you see, but it might not be included in the base price you are quoted. Ask how much the model would be (less furnishings).
- Ask to see the list of extras you CAN get. Sometimes these are limited. With a production builder, you cannot customize like you can with a custom builder. This is what helps you get the more affordable price. The fewer changes to a home, the more economically it can be built.
- Usually you can only make changes up until a certain point of construction. Find out exactly what the timeline is, to ensure you make your choices in a timely manner, and with no unnecessary change order charges.
- Ask about your walk through inspection, and the process of addressing your Punch List (the list of items that need to be corrected prior to closing). There are always little things that need to be addressed when a house is “complete.” You and your builder need to be clear on what is on the list, and when it will be fixed. Remember, after you close, you become a warranty customer, not a contracted buyer. You should work to ensure all corrections must be made prior to closing. (Ask your Rocklyn representative about their punch list policy. They won’t close on your home until the punch list is zero!)
- Ask to meet the on-site supervisor/builder. He will be responsible for building your home (or completing it, if it is standing inventory). You should feel comfortable with this person, and ensure you feel confident he will work in your best interest.
- Ask to get the names of a few neighbors to whom you could speak about their experience building their home, and about the neighborhood itself.
- Is there a Homeowners Association? If so, how much will the annual fee be? Ask for a copy of the documents to review. An association should have certain guidelines about what can and cannot be done to the exterior of a home or on the property. These guidelines are intended to protect the investment of your home. In addition, there should be an annual budget for the association. If there are amenities in the community, this is of particular importance to you. Upkeep for a pool, community center, etc. is the responsibility of the homeowners.
- Confirm your school district.
- If the project is in its early stages, ask about the builder’s anticipated build out. This will tell you how long you will be living in a construction environment.