by: Diane Vespucci ~ Re/Max Realty

Find a great Realtor. So many of my articles start out this way, I know, but it’s so helpful to you and when you’re buying, its free advice and knowledge. It’s important to remember that a great agent isn’t necessarily your friend, neighbor or family member. Check their credentials. How long have they worked as a professional Realtor? Do they know anything about new homes? How many have they sold? Do they work full-time? You definitely want someone who has some experience with residential new construction and isn’t affiliated with the builder.

Why do you need a Realtor? Usually, the agent who greets you when you go into new construction works for the builder and their interests. They don’t work for you. Additionally, a Realtor can help you present your offer so it’s most likely to be accepted and will point out factors that will affect your resale value down the road. We’ve seen a lot, to coin a phrase, so we know a lot and often help creatively, as well thinking out of the box to help structure the best deal.

Bring your Realtor with you on your first visit or make sure the builder’s agent knows you are represented and by whom.

When you go into a model home, please remember it’s often full of extras. One builder charged extra for the high ceilings, and it’s common to charge for coffered ceiling, granite, higher end cabinets, and the list goes on and on. The bottom line, don’t assume anything is included, and whatever is agreed upon must be put in writing. If it’s not in the contract, it’s not part of the deal. Ask your Realtor to get a list from a builder of the extras and their cost before you decide. It will definitely help your budget.

Another important thing is to check out the builder’s reputation. To be honest, most builders have someone who’s been unhappy with their work at some time. Checking out those reputations and complaints goes a long way to helping you understand how the builder handles complaints, what they tend to be, if they are handled and what the builder’s reputation is. If it’s a particular neighborhood, talk to homeowners.

Once you’ve finished the build but have yet to close, get the home inspected by an independent inspector. Builders do have to work to code and plans, but people make mistakes. Better to know what needs to be fixed before you own the place. Since you’ll be using the builder’s paperwork, learn what the details are about inspections, your right to walk and any warranties – and there are many warranties so take time to understand what is covered by which warranty: some for appliances, some for structural issues, some for general items. Each has its own timeline.

And finally, do your homework on lenders. The builder selected lender often offers to pay for closing costs but it may not be to your advantage. Shop around; compare apples to apples, and oranges to oranges on your interest rate and associated costs. The builder may require you to be approved through their affiliated mortgage company regardless. On the bright side, they may be more competitive than a general lender, but its worth your while to check.

The best piece of advice I can give? Like I said at the start, find a great Realtor. Take them with you. And remember, if you don’t have anyone yet, call me. I’m always happy to help.