Buying new construction homes may seem complicated and even slightly intimidating for the uninitiated, but it is not that different from buying a pre-owned home.
1. Don't look at models without your real estate agent.
The salespeople that work in a builder's model home are typically licensed real estate agents. If you walk in without an agent of your own, the builder may not let you work with an outside agent. He can claim that his marketing brought you into the complex, therefore you must work with his team. Having your own buyer's agent who works exclusively for your best interests, not the builder's, is crucial.
2. Negotiate with the builder.
One of the reasons you hire a buyer's agent is to help you negotiate the price with the seller. It is a little-known fact that you can also negotiate with a builder. While a builder may be firm on the price for new construction homes, he or she may be willing to throw in an option or two at no additional charge. If wood floors or a stone patio are out of your initial budget, see if your Realtor can negotiate to have them thrown into the deal at no additional charge.
Additionally, a builder may be more willing to negotiate on the sales price for the model home when the neighborhood is selling out. The builder may want to sell it quickly in order to tie up all his loose ends and move on to the next project.
3. Always add square footage.
Houses sell by the square foot. You can have nicer wood floors and better granite countertops than the next house, but it doesn't affect price. More square footage, however, does. If you have the opportunity and can afford to add a bonus room, a walk-out basement, or even a sunroom off the kitchen, do it. It will help create future value in your home and help you sell for more money later.
4. Pay for a home inspection — twice.
When you purchase a house, you need to have a home inspection to ensure that all the parts are in proper working order. The same philosophy applies to new construction homes. While everything is brand new and should be working, you still want to pay for a home inspection. You need one inspection when the home is ready for drywall. This will allow the inspector to examine everything — foundation, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. You'll want this done before the drywall goes up.
You will need a second inspection after the house is complete, but before you close on it. At the second inspection, the inspector will look for any details that are incorrect or not complete — missing paint, dented drywall, cracked glass — and help you and your real estate agent create a 'punch list' of repairs for the builder to complete before closing.
If you keep the above tips in mind when shopping for a new construction home, the process will go smoothly.