Buying a new construction home in Atlanta sounds simple enough, right? The Builder has the plans and there is a shiny new Model Home to walk through allowing you to feel at ease with the task at hand. But, I want you to engage in the task with your eyes wide open and the following information may help…
Research the Builder
Just like everything else, check out the builder online and with the Better Business Bureau. It’s better to look elsewhere than to step into a year long nightmare.
Timing in subdivisions and condos is important
When purchasing in a multi-unit subdivision, there is a rhythm to the sales to when you might be able make a deal. Price is seldom negotiable, but if it is this is when timing is on your side. The first few units need to sold to show the public that people want to live here and they satisfy financing arrangements with the institution funding the project. Likewise, the last few tend to be pure profit so the builder may make a deal just to close out the project. Seldom will you get a deal in the middle.
Price is seldom negotiable and upgrades are tricky
Since this is a project backed by a business plan approved by a financing institute, there is little to no wiggle room on price. To satisfy your need to negotiate turn to the upgrades. The Builder has some flexibility there but if the location is a popular one she may be stubborn. Just remember that when you choose an upgrade you will be expected to pay for that upgrade in full upon contracting and it’s normally non refundable for any reason.
Choose location and square footage over upgrades
Builders will try to sell their less desirable product quickly and they will tend to finish them with well appointed upgrades. Don’t be lured in.
You are moving into a construction zone
Depending on when you move in you may be exposed to the joys of builder noise and inconveniences for over a year. They will eventually leave, but be sure to renew that road hazard policy for your car tires.
Surveys are important
The story of a client’s septic tank, which was located on the neighboring property, comes to mind. It is surprising how often the builder misses the mark when laying out the plots.
Builder’s contracts are biased
If they are good they have done this for quite awhile and have seen everything that can go wrong with people and contracts. Builder’s contracts are notoriously biased toward the Builder and they are fine with that. Hopefully you are working with a professional and they should be able to point out the important bits. Since most Realtors use a standard contract set they will not be experts on each builder’s nuances. When in doubt have an attorney review the docs before you sign anything.
Rarely will you be able to change the floor plan
Not much to add here. I’m not suggesting this will never happen; it’ll cost you!
Use the model home as a standard
Model homes are near perfection and loaded with optional upgrades. I love it when my client purchases a floorplan that has a completed model. I will visit with the site salesperson and have them reassure me that the finishes in the model represent my client’s product. This allows me to compare the construction finishes for quality workmanship.
Expect changes, but make few
Builders run into issues all the time and if they are a good builder they will keep you apprised. It’s part of the process. Just be sure that the changes proposed do not conflict with what she agreed to produce. If so, you will have to decide if you can live with the change.
After contracting and construction begins you will have a tendency to make changes. Be aware that a casual conversation with the builder will shortly turn into expensive Change Orders.
Everything in writing, really!
No verbal promises! If a promise/agreement is made put it in writing. If you want white ceramic 6”x3” subway tile using white grout in the downstairs bath don’t have written in the contract ‘white tile in downstairs bath.”
It will not be finished on time
It just will not. Be sure to have a Plan B for living arrangements.
Inspectors are not welcome, but necessary
Builders have had their share of incompetent Home Inspectors, deal killers. Builders are basically OK with you using an Inspector, but they want to be sure they are competent. Their contact will more than likely outline the qualifications for a third party Inspector, usually basic certifications and insurance bonds.
Understand the Warranty
There is usually a warranty of some kind but they vary. Spend some time understanding the warranty to be supplied before you contract.
Use a checklist
There is a lot going on and you will need to keep yourself organized, so buy yourself a notepad or book to dedicate to your purchase.
Employ a professional
Well duh! Always use a professional Realtor. Most always the Builder will pay their fee and they have the experience to see the future and guide you around the pitfalls
Buying a new construction home can create anxieties, but you don’t have to go it alone.