Imagine your first weekend in a new home; a home without nasty smells leftover from the previous occupants, no smudged baseboards and a sparkling clean refrigerator that has never held leftovers. The only thing you need to do this weekend is relax and enjoy your new home.
Sure, there are other reasons to purchase a newly constructed home rather than an existing one but let’s take a walk through the purchase process so you know what to expect from the minute you step into the new home community’s office.
The Real Estate Agent
New home communities are typically laid out so that visitors are herded into the builder’s office before they reach the model homes. The person that greets you here is usually the builder’s real estate agent. Read that again: the builder’s real estate agent. Although she may be a perfectly fine person, full of wit and charm, she is not your real estate agent, nor should you entertain fantasies of how easy the process would be if she were.
The best way to avoid the temptation and any pressure the agent may try to place on you is to mention that you’re working with a real estate agent. Ethically, the builder’s agent must back off trying to recruit you as a client.
The builder pays the real estate commissions so there is no reason not to have your own representation during the purchase process and many reasons to have it. Real estate agents have what are known as “fiduciary” duties to their clients. The duties for the buyer’s agent are different from those of the seller and believe us, they do conflict.
Think of it as being represented in divorce proceedings by the same attorney that is representing your spouse. Not a good idea.
The builder may also have a preferred lender and you will no doubt be urged to use it to finance the purchase. Unlike the real estate agent, there is nothing inherently wrong with using the builder’s lender, as long as you’re being offered a good deal.
The advantages to using the builder’s lender include the fact that it may have appraisers who are familiar with the new community.
Never feel that you have to use the builder’s in-house lender; you are within your rights to use any lender you prefer.
As in most professions, there are good builders and there are those that take short cuts or do a lousy job.
If you aren’t familiar with the builder, do some checking on his or her background. Start with the Better Business Bureau in your area and then check public records for lawsuits against the builder.
There is a lot more to buying a newly-constructed home than an existing home. Carefully choosing your real estate agent and then investigating the builder will go a long way to helping the transaction run smoothly.