New Construction Buying Process
You’ve searched for the ideal home and decided that new construction is the way to go. What’s next? Here is a summary of the typical process for buying a new home. Just as every buyer is different, so is every builder. Be sure to check with your builder for their specific buying process.
Check your credit
Get a copy of your credit report and make sure all issues are resolved and that the information is correct so that you don’t have surprises when you apply for a loan. Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can request a copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com.
Choose a Buyer’s Agent
The sales representatives at a new construction community represent the builder. If you would like your own representation, choose a sales agent of your own. We know just the place to find one - click here to find the best professional agents in the business. If you are represented by a buyer's agent, some builders will require your agent to accompany you and register with you on your initial visit to a new construction community in order to be eligible for a commission from the builder. Your agent should check the builder’s registration policies.
Pre-qualifying for a mortgage is good but obtaining mortgage lender pre-approval is better. This will tell you how much can invest in a new home based on your income, debt and credit score. We recommend Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach REALTORS affiliate, Trident Mortgage Company.
Repeat 3 Times: Location
Find the locations that work for you. Determine the factors that are most important to you. Do you want to live in a specific school district? Are you looking for a home close to family or friends? Is your commute time to work a determining factor?
Once you narrow down locations, research your builder. Visit their current and completed communities. Talk to homeowners. Ask your agent. Search for reviews online but, remember, there will almost always be both positive and negative reviews.
Choose Your Model
Does the builder offer a floor plan that’s just right for you? Select your plan and exterior style. Review available structural options and request custom options if you want to modify the plan. Structural and custom options will have an additional cost above the base price of the home.
Select Your Homesite
Now it’s time to select the lot for your new home. Some lots in desirable locations, with preferable views or with larger than average square footage may have lot premiums. It’s also important to make sure the home you’ve chosen will fit on the lot. It’s possible that you may need to adjust your exterior selections if buyers around your lot have chosen the same finishes. This will keep the community more appealing and add value to your home.
Review The Included Features
Review the standard features included in the base price of the home. If the builder has a model home, it may include designer features, upgrades and structural options which are an additional cost. Your agent can recommend optional features that will improve your home's value.
Reserving a Lot
A reservation deposit will hold the lot you’ve chosen for a specific period of time so that you can ask any outstanding questions and prepare to enter into an agreement of sale with the builder. Be sure to check the builder’s policies and time frame for holding a lot off of the market.
Agreement of Sale
Before the reservation period has expired, you will execute an agreement of sale with the builder. Some builders use their own agreement of sale instead of the standard forms used by agents. The agreement will include addendums with the plot plan, structural options, finish selections, an estimated settlement date and deadlines for additional deposits and mortgage approval. Review the agreement of sale carefully with your agent and have all of your questions answered before you sign.
Mortgage Lender and Title Insurance
Once the agreement of sale has been signed by both you and the builder, it’s time to choose your lender if you need a mortgage to buy the home. There are many types of mortgages with varying interest rates and terms. Trident Mortgage Company has a comprehensive collection of calculators for everything mortgage related. You’ll also need Title Insurance if you are getting a mortgage on the property. Title insurance includes a title search to confirm ownership of the property and insurance to protect your ownership. We know a great company for that too! Also a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS affiliate, you’ll find the top providers at Trident Land Transfer Company.
The selections are the designer finishes for your new home. You may decide to choose finishes that are included in the sales price or, you may upgrade to a higher level. Some builders have a Design Center. Some will send you to showrooms and, sometimes, builders use a combination of both. Selections include flooring, cabinetry, plumbing fixtures, electrical, lighting and more. You will be choosing colors and styles. If you are purchasing a Quick Move-in home, some or all selections may have already been chosen.
While a builder will provide an estimated settlement date on the agreement of sale, there are many factors that can cause that date to change. Permits, weather, materials and labor can affect the build time. Stay in close touch with the builder’s sales representatives for updates on the building progress.
Builder warranties vary. Be sure to have a complete understanding of your coverage. You’ll also have manufacturers warranties on your appliances.
It’s tempting, but don’t visit your future home while it’s under construction, unless you have the express permission of the builder. New construction sites can be full of hazards and you don’t want to slow down the work by interrupting the construction professionals who are building your home.
Most builders will have a series of standard inspections at various stages of construction. This is the time to make sure your home is being built as agreed with all of your structural and design selections.
This inspection is completed near the time of settlement and, occasionally, on the day of settlement. There should only be a few minor punch list items to attend to. The builder will strive to complete these before settlement.
It’s finally here! Your buyer's agent and your title company has coordinated the settlement with you and the builder. Your mortgage company has provided all of the necessary paperwork and funding. There’s a pile of forms to sign. The reward is a set of bright, shiny keys to your new home! Congratulations!