Sunday, February 28, 2016

What Do I Look For in New Construction Homes? Southeastern Wisconsin

by: Michele Lerner, author

Q. I’ve been looking for a home to buy in my area for several months, but there’s not very much for sale that I like. My REALTOR® suggested I look at a development of newly built homes. I hadn’t really considered new construction homes, and I don’t know how to make sure I’m buying a well-built home that will keep its value over time. What do I need to look for in a newly built home?

A. I’m glad to hear you’re working with a REALTOR® who has suggested looking at both newly built and existing homes, because it can be helpful to compare these two types of housing. Newly built homes offer the advantage of better energy efficiency, the latest home designs, new appliances and systems, and the opportunity to personalize—although builders vary in how much they allow you to customize.

A REALTOR® should be able to give you some insight into different builders in your area; agents often talk to each other about their experiences and their clients’ experiences with various builders.
You should also take the time to research the reputation of builders online and visit communities they have developed. Keep in mind that the larger the builder, the more likely you’ll be able to find a complaint or two about them. The important thing is to see if you can find out how any issues have been addressed.

When you visit a new housing development, you should talk to residents about their home, the neighborhood and the builder. If there are developments by this builder that are complete, it would be helpful to visit them, see how they’ve stood the test of time and talk to homeowners there about their experiences.

Shopping for a new construction home also is different in many ways from shopping for a resale.
First, you’re often looking at floor plans and a model home rather than your actual future home. When you visit a resale, you know what you’re buying, and you can see the community around it. Take your time at a new home community to discuss the future plans for development within the community and in the surrounding area so you can get a feel for what it will look like.

When you visit a model home, it also is extremely important you ask the sales professional onsite or your agent to explain which features are standard and which are options. Model homes are used to showcase the best possible upgrades and options, but adding them to your home might be out of your reach financially. Discuss the options you like with a sales professional so you can get an estimate of what they might cost.

After you narrow down your search and choose a model that you like, be sure you find out if that model can be built on the lot you like—and if you can add the optional features you prefer to that particular floor plan. Not all lots and floor plans will be able to accommodate a sunroom addition or a three-car garage.

Determine where in the development you would like to live based on future plans. While it may be lovely to face a meadow or woodlands, that area could be slated to become a school or shopping center down the line.

While you might expect any new home to be perfect, you should hire a third-party home inspector to check your property thoroughly and attend all the inspections that the builder holds.

New construction homes typically come with a warranty, so you should make sure you understand what the warranty covers and find out how the builder will address any issues you discover after you purchase the home.

Remember, a REALTOR® can advise you on all the decisions you’ll need to make when you opt for a newly built home.

Michele Lerner, author of “HOMEBUYING: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time,” has been writing about real estate and personal finance since 1990. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, MSN Real Estate, Fox Business, The Motley Fool, Bankrate,, The Washington Times and Daily Finance.

To help you navigate through the New Construction Process Call/Contact Jodi Toebe RE/Max Realty Center.

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