During times like this — when the real estate market’s supply of homes can’t quite match the demand from buyers — new construction home sales surge. If there aren’t enough homes for sale on the market or none that match your criteria, why not build your own? Experts are forecasting a 10 percent growth in new construction home sales this year, but it could be much higher. There are many benefits to buying new construction homes such as the ability to customize your home from floor to ceiling and design the home you’ve always dreamt of buying. However, there are also several concerns specific to buying new construction homes that every buyer should consider before signing a contract. The best way to alleviate these concerns is to ask plenty of questions. Knowledge is power, so if you’re considering purchasing a new construction home, create a list of questions to ask each prospective builder. Not sure what kind of questions to ask? The Keri Shull Team has you covered.
Here are 10 must-ask questions for home buyers looking to purchase new construction:
#1: How many homes have you built?
The expertise, abilities, and track record of the builder will have an enormous impact on the quality of the final product — aka your new home! That’s why it’s so important to properly vet each builder early on in the process of buying a new construction home. Talk to several different builders. Ask each builder how long they’ve been in the business, and then make sure to clarify their experience by asking how many homes they’ve built over the span of their career. Don’t just take their word for it! Use the magic of Google to research each builder on your own. Find reviews from past customers and take the time to read testimonials. Familiarize yourself with a builder’s reputation before you make any commitments.
#2: What type of homes do you typically build?
Each builder is different and specializes in a certain type of construction. One builder may specialize in luxury homes and another may excel in commercial construction. New construction home buyers should choose a builder that specializes in building the type of property they want to buy. We also recommend that you decide what type of home you want before you look for builders, so you can narrow down your search and save time vetting candidates.
#3: Do you have any on-going or recently completed projects that I can look at?
Too many new construction home buyers fail to ask builders this question. Don’t be afraid to check out a builder’s work before you sign a contract! Check out the quality of their work first-hand by touring one of their sites. You can learn about the types of products they use, their level of craftsmanship, and even how clean they keep their work sites. Arm yourself with as much information as possible. It can be very helpful for a new construction home buyer to tour a builder’s work to better envision what their own home may look like.
#4: What home features are considered standard and which are extra?
Depending on the builder, certain features come with the standard home model and some are considered extra, meaning they cost more. Every builder should be able to provide you with a specifications report that lists every standard feature that would come with your home. It should also include a list of available upgrades with the cost of each, so you can decide which luxury features matter most to you and your budget. You don’t want to get halfway through construction on your new home — having already signed a contract — and find out something you thought was standard actually costs several hundred (or thousand) dollars more.
#5: Will I be able to decide on additional upgrades once construction has already started?
This is a great question to ask along with Question #4. If you’re worried you may change your mind on an upgrade once construction has already started, ask the builder how long you have to think it over. Some builders may not let you make changes once construction begins, but others may be more flexible and allow you to switch from carpet to hardwood three months into the build. Know your options ahead of time to guarantee a successful outcome.
#6: Will my new construction home come with a home warranty?
This is one of the most important questions to ask, not only for new construction home buyers but for all types of home buyers! Most builders offer some kind of home warranty, but it differs from builder to builder. It’s critical for the home buyer to understand what their home warranty covers, for how long, and at what cost. This can also help you decide which home features you can afford to upgrade. Find out everything you need to know about home warranties and how to choose the right home warranty company for you.
#7: Who will oversee the construction of my new home, and who will be my go-to contact during the build-out?
The builder isn’t the only person you will have to deal with when you buy a new construction home. You need to ask about the builder’s employees, the people who will be doing the day-to-day work on your home. The Keri Shull Team highly recommends that new construction home buyers stay involved throughout the entire build-out. Get the name and contact information of the person who will be in charge of daily operations, so you can check in on the progress of your home and be well aware of any issues or setbacks that may crop up during construction.
#8: How often will I be able to tour my new home once construction has started?
Obviously we don’t recommend getting carried away and visiting your new construction home site every day, but you should definitely be able to make periodic check-ins and tour the home you’re paying to have built. It can be helpful to see rooms in person when making decisions on furniture and paint colors. However, some builders can be very restrictive when it comes to letting buyers visit the home in-progress. Ask your builder about visitation policies before you sign a contract. If a builder is too aggressive about keeping buyers out, it could be a red flag.
#9: How long will it take until my new construction home is move-in ready, and what happens if you don’t make the date?
When you are buying a new construction home, you will have to be flexible and patient with the process. Numerous things can cause construction delays, from bad weather to late shipments of materials. The permit process can also take a long time depending on the county, and the builder doesn’t have much control over that. However, every builder should have a timeline and stick to it. You as a buyer have the right to know how long your home should take to be built, especially if you are trying to sell your current home in time to move into your new home. We recommend that you wait to make your move-in plans until the home is at least under roof. Some builders have a terrible reputation for not finishing construction on time, but if you do your research properly, you will know that before you sign a contract! Make sure you both are in agreement on what will happen if your home isn’t ready on time.
#10: How quickly will punch list items be completed?
During the final walkthrough of a new construction home, the buyer is able to make a punch list of any existing issues. If there are features missing from the home or if there was a mistake in the workmanship, the buyer has the opportunity (and the right) to put it on the punch list and give it to the builder to amend before you move in. Some builders may be less than motivated to redo work once construction is complete which is why it is so important for a buyer to clarify the timeline for this in writing before you finalize a contract! You don’t want to get stuck waiting weeks for things that were supposed to be finished the first time around.
The Bottom Line
If you’re buying a new construction home, be sure to ask each builder these 10 important questions about the process. We hope you already have an expert real estate agent to help you during your home search, but if you haven’t chosen an agent yet, give the Keri Shull Team a call! Our talented and passionate real estate agents would love to help you buy a new construction home. Plus, we have REAL experience buying and selling new construction. Work with the best real estate team in the DMV for the best results. We can’t wait to hear from you!