Updated 9/21/18; Originally published 2/7/16
Your dream home. You’ve gone to a few builder model homes in Killeen, Harker Heights, and Copperas Cove, and this is The One. You’re excited. Your spouse is ecstatic. You’re already picking out the floors, paint, brick and browsing furniture at Ikea. The builder’s rep already preapproved you with their lender and has a contract out ready for you to sign.
You’ve skipped some important steps in the process that are going to save you money and make sure you are getting the most out of your home buying experience.
1. Get an agent.
Firstly, because you will need an agent to do items 2 through 5.
Secondly, because the builder’s representative is probably a great person – but they are still the builder’s representative, not yours. Literally, their legal responsibility is to put the seller’s interests first, not your own. Get an agent whose legal responsibility is to put your interests first.
Thirdly, your agent can test whether or not buying a new construction is really best for you and your needs. Buying a brand new home is often the most expensive way to purchase a home, and the result is actually that newer neighborhoods can sometimes have higher foreclosure rates. The VA loan can exacerbate this problem in our area. Especially if you are only going to be in the area a short time, buying new construction may not be the wisest financial decision.
It’s best to get an agent before you begin looking at homes. I’ve worked with some buyers who already had a builder and home in mind, but hadn’t considered many other variables that I suggested. It was hard to go back to the drawing board.
2. Look at comparable pre-owned homes.
What if you could get the exact home you are in love with, but for $20,000 less and just a couple years older?
That is very achievable in the Fort Hood area! Ask your agent to look through the MLS for comparable homes and see if there are any homes with similar plans are for sale. It could be just as good and $10,000s less. At a minimum, you will be more confident in your choice to buy from a builder having explored the alternatives.
On my city pages, I include a link for “like new” homes – for sale and built within the past 5 years. These are often homes that are going to have the comfort and updates of a newer construction but at a resale price!
This way, you avoid making one of the top mistakes I see Fort Hood home buyers making.
3. Consider other builders.
There are dozens and dozens of home builders in the Fort Hood area. I’ve counted over 40!
Not only that, but builders differ even neighborhood by neighborhood. Have you really seen all the options?
A builder’s representative is only incentivized to sell you on their builder in their neighborhood. Ask your agent to take you to any other builders or other neighborhoods you hadn’t thought of that might meet your needs.
Many builders may seem the same, but by working with your agent, there is a chance you might be able to identify some unique opportunities. For example, builders seldom negotiate on prices, except when they are closing out a neighborhood, or even an entire market. Their last few homes are often sold in a firesale in which you can get some great deals for a neighborhood. Having an agent can help you keep watch out for these opportunities (albeit rare ones).
Online Resources for Buyers
- There is no one-tool-fits-all for home hunters.
- Realtors aren’t generally allowed to discuss schools and crime
- Going online can be helpful to research your property’s history
4. Look at other lenders.
Some builders, especially the large tract builders like D R Horton and Centex, have their own lender partners in-house. Often they incentivize the buyer to use these lenders as a condition of their paying closing costs. It’s an effective way for the builders to manage their buyers’ financing during the process while cross-selling products.
Builders’ lenders are not always a bad option. In fact, often they are probably just fine and I do recommend considering them. But depending on your circumstances (especially if you are a veteran), there may be better deals available that your agent can point you toward. Ask your agent for lender recommendations based on your unique circumstances.
5. Get your agent to go over the deal.
Do you know what you are signing?
Even if you’ve bought a home before and know about things like earnest money, precon meetings, and contingencies, you may not know what is typical for the Fort Hood market. Get the inside scoop and be better informed by having an agent who can advise you and go over the contracts with you.
Generally, you can expect different things in a contract from the different types of builders. Custom builders are not flexible on much, but do what you want. Other builders may have more flexibility on the price or terms depending on their own unique circumstances at any given time. A real estate agent with some local experience can help get you the most from the deal.
Not just the contracts, but especially if you are doing a to-be-built or a custom home, it might payoff majorly having a local real estate professional in the construction meetings with you. It is your home, your choice. But a local Realtor can make recommendations on things that may be worth the money, and things that are not, as well as advising on the resale value of different upgrades.
The builder has already budgeted for your agent’s commission. Skipping out on representation does not save you a dime (though the builder will secretly be thanking you!)
If you are thinking about buying from a builder in Central Texas, call or text me at (512) 763-7912 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and put the Hood Homes Blog to work for you!
Oh, and here are some new construction homes in the Fort Hood area to check out!