My wife and I have recently been involved in the search for and procurement of a new home. It started one Saturday this past April when we were driving down the hiway and on a whim decided to stop in at the builder’s office in a newly developed subdivision, just to “check it out”. By Sunday afternoon we had already selected the model and all of the upgrades for our new home, and were embarked upon the journey of having a house built from the ground up.
It’s now nearly July. The house is framed, roofed, wired, plumbed, and is on the verge of having the sheet rock installed. The whole experience thus far has had its ups and downs, but the majority have all been “ups”, and I attribute this to two people: my realtor, and the sales person for the builder.
My wife and I didn’t know it but when you are having a home built you can and should still have a realtor to represent you during all phases. The initial deterrent to doing so is the thought of adding an extra expense to a probably already tight budget, but the realtor’s fees are paid by the builder (at least by this builder)! So with that in mind, I called up a long time friend (we’ll call her Terri) who is a realtor. Terri is a woman of infinite energy and charisma, with such a thorough knowledge of the home buying/building process that she can easily translate it into terms that a new home buyer can comprehend. She has accompanied my wife and I on almost every meeting we’ve had with the builder and has been invaluable when it comes to ensuring that no detail is overlooked or goes unexplained. She always answers her phone (even when on vacation), proactively communicates, and is an invaluable resource when it comes to answering questions like, “Hey, know anybody who does new construction inspections? Tiling? Sells appliances? Gives a good massage?” Terri knows at least one person in nearly every profession there is, I’d say, and will never steer you wrong. You need to inquire within your network of friends and find a realtor like Terri.
Now let me talk about our builder’s sales representative. We’ll call her Linda. Linda is THE sweetest woman I’ve ever met, next to my grandma. She was recommended to me by a co worker who also had a home built by this builder, and from the first time I spoke with her on the phone I was immediately set at ease by her gentle voice and absolute desire to simply help us fulfill our home needs. Not for one single moment in all the months now that we have been working with her have I ever felt like I was talking to a sales person. In fact, I would say that the title doesn’t even fit her, as she doesn’t “sell” anything; she merely educates you on what your options are and then lets you decide. She, like Terri, is always responsive, caring, empathizing, and leaves no doubt in your mind that your concerns are just as much her own. My wife and I…well, I will admit that I think we have been a wee bit more challenging to work with than probably most new home buyers. But even when we were in her office expressing in a not so controlled manner an issue we had regarding the trees in our new yard, she never once reacted negatively and only made it a point to relate to our point of view and then get us a speedy and acceptable resolution.
At this point, I’d like to interject just a few things my wife and I have learned that I feel may be useful to anybody reading this who is considering buying a new home.
1. DO get a realtor. If you already know one personally and trust their abilities, by all means have them represent you. If you don’t know one personally, then you should do your best to locate a recommendation through friends, family, church members, coworkers, or other acquaintances. A word-of-mouth recommendation is usually a safe bet.
2. DO have a home inspector lined up. This is very important, because even though the builder does inspect their work along the way, a third party set of professional eyes looking at it again can’t hurt. We had an inspector come out just before the foundation was poured to make sure all pipes, spacers, etc. were right. He found a few things that needed corrected, and the builder was more than happy to address them. We had him come in again just before the sheet rock went up, and the builder also addressed everything on that report as well. The final inspection will be just before closing. Having these inspection reports will also make your home more appealing when it comes time to sell, because the new buyer will know for certain that there were no defects allowed to slip through the cracks (no pun intended).
3. DO take lots of pictures throughout the entire process. Again, this will help potential buyers to feel much more at ease about the house itself, and it will provide good references later on as to where cables and pipes are located.
4. DO get as many upgrades as your budget will allow. Remember, the home is an investment and, unless you just plan on NEVER selling it, you’ll want to try and make it stand out among the rest as much as possible. My wife and I got every upgrade available, and are already planning on immediately doing some custom flooring the day we get the keys (tiling the entire downstairs and all bathrooms). Home builders do typically offer a lot of choices, but these choices are usually very limited. If you want something truly custom, you’ll have to do it yourself once the home is yours.
5. DO include the entire family in the process as much as possible. We visit the home site a couple of times a week, at least, and take the kids so they can walk through it. The kids do become very excited when they visualize themselves living in the new home and imagine how they will decorate their room.
Buying a home and moving to a new location is a major event, tantamount to giving birth to a new baby, though hopefully you won’t require Demerol to get through this process. So, celebrate it as a family before, during, and after!
Continue following our new home saga! “Buying a New Home – Part 2 of 3”