Central Oregon New Construction Real Estate Find your perfect new home in central Oregon!
New construction can be a very attractive real estate purchase. The peace of mind that can come with a newly-built home and its warranty is significant. The creative satisfaction with being able to pick your own finishes, or even develop your own floorplan – in short, the creation of your dream home – cannot be underestimated. However, new construction is not without its pitfalls and cautionary tales. That being said, here are a few tips to help guide you on your journey to a new construction purchase.
1. Should you use your own real estate broker?
Yes! Like any other real estate niche, new construction has its own quirks and nuances that you’ll have to navigate. Having an experienced broker on your side can help you immeasurably. Many new subdivisions will feature model homes that are staffed with one or more Realtors. While they are certainly knowledgeable about that particular subdivision and the various models of homes available within it, they are likely not the best choice to represent you. This is because they typically already have a relationship with the builder – who is most often also the seller. Because of this, they will have the primary goal of protecting their client: the seller – who isn’t you. Your best bet is to work with a broker who is representing you directly without any conflict of interest.
2. When is the best time to purchase new construction?
Yesterday. Last week. Last month. Last year. Five years ago. Those are all common answers and for the most part, there is a substantial amount of historical truth to them. However, there is also the truth that many of the larger home builders are publicly traded companies that have sales goals and shareholders that need to be satisfied. So, with that in mind, the end of each quarter can be a good time to make a purchase if builder incentives are offered or increased. December can be another good time to buy. Not only is it the end of a quarter, but it is also the end of the year. In addition to that, the real estate market takes a predictable dip as people (both buyers and sellers) shift their focus away from real estate to the holidays, travel, friends, family, etc. Less demand can mean better deals for buyers.
3. Research builders.
Builders are not created equal. In any given area, you may find the big national builders, smaller local builders (still fish in their own ponds so-to-speak), and independent builders who are smaller than the big fish in their area, but can do work that is every bit as good or better than the larger companies. Familiarize yourself with them and their work. Look at their websites. Visit their subdivisions – and past homes if possible. Remember that anyone can pretend to be a contractor. It’s always a good idea to verify licensure via the Oregon Construction Contractors Board. Additionally, here in central Oregon, visit the COBA website for a directory and helpful hints, go on the annual Tour Of Homes, take part in the annual Green & Solar Home Tour, go to the Deschutes County Home & Garden Show. Read reviews on angieslist.com, buildzoom.com, houzz.com, porch.com, yelp.com, etc. And talk with your real estate broker – we see more homes than just about anyone and are familiar with most of the builders in the area.
4. Research the builder’s lender.
Most of the larger builders and even some of the smaller ones partner with lenders to help facilitate sales. Some even offer additional incentives if you use their lender. Does this mean you should? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Look for the lender and the loan that works best for you, not the builder. It’s always in your best interest to get multiple bids/quotes. Need help? Your real estate broker can very likely provide you with the names of some local lenders who would be happy to speak with you. Additionally, Berkshire Hathaway has their own lender, Prosperity Home Mortgage. While there aren’t any offices or brokers based here in central Oregon, they can still work with you and, because of our affiliation with them, will provide a complimentary review of any other loan package you have been preapproved for.
5. Give preference to location and square footage.
This is based on simple logic. It’s far easier to update finishes down the road than it is to relocate a house or even add on to one. Look to buy the right sized home for your needs in the place you want to be. You can always replace the carpet to hardwood, change that laminate counter to a solid surface top, and add on that deck with a hot tub later. And if you don’t want to wait, you can likely find a rehab loan program that will allow you to make your desired changes closer to (or even in conjunction with) your purchase.
6. Don’t over-improve.
Choose a home size and options that are comparable to other homes in the neighborhood. Don’t build a mansion in a neighborhood of manufactured homes as it may be difficult to sell down the road if and when the need arises. Similarly, don’t aim low. A home with the most basic finishes/options in a neighborhood of upgraded homes can also be a difficult future sale.
7. Standard vs. upgrade.
As you tour model homes, don’t be afraid to ask questions. One of the best questions to ask is if a given feature or finish is a standard or upgraded finish. Often, the model home in a given subdivision has been completed with upgraded finishes, appliances, and/or features to make it more attractive to prospective buyers. Knowing the upgrades can help you better understand pricing.
8. Buy the model home.
In most cases, as a new subdivision nears completion, the builder will put the model home up for sale. These homes have typically been used as the sales office for the neighborhood and have numerous prospective buyers through them. As mentioned above, they also typically have upgrades. The downside is that you will likely not have the freedom to pick your own finishes, appliances, etc. However, in all likelihood, they have been chosen by a professional designer to be as attractive as possible. Be on the lookout for these homes. Often they are opportunities to get a professionally upgraded home at significant savings.
9. New construction pricing.
Homebuilders are not typical sellers. While they have built the home, they are not emotionally attached to it. They haven’t lived and created memories in it. It’s more than likely that they’ve built the same floorplan numerous times. Numbers are far more in tune to a builder’s way of thinking. Square footages, price per square foot, material costs, how many days on the market, and of course price are a few of the numbers that builders pay attention to. With regard to price, it should come as no surprise builders don’t like to reduce their prices as doing so can set a precedent that affects the future sales of their homes. It’s far more typical to builders to pay for closing costs or offer other incentives like upgraded finishes, appliances, window coverings, landscaping, etc. If you are dead-set on getting a lower price, your best bet is to look for newly-built homes that have been on the market for forty-five days or more. Remember the end-of-the-quarter / end-of-the-year strategies mentioned in paragraph #2 above? Those still apply.
10. Get it in writing.
Remember those incentives in paragraph #9? When it comes time to make an offer, make sure you have them noted in your sales agreement. Most builders will insist on using their own proprietary contracts for all sales. While these documents cover most of the same issues as the standard real estate contracts that brokers rely on every day, they are usually tipped in favor of the builder. Be sure to read and understand them fully before signing. If you are uncomfortable, have your broker review them with you. This is another reason to have your own broker rather than to use the builder’s sales agent. You may also want to have an attorney review them as well. Contracts can be amended prior to signing.
Like most real estate transactions, new construction is a type that has its own unique characteristics. At first glance, they may seem overwhelming and daunting when compared with purchasing a home that has already been lived in. But it doesn’t have to be so. With a little bit of education and awareness of the process, you may find that a new construction purchase can actually be an extremely attractive and satisfying way to buy your next home!
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Words, photo, formatting, and layout © Mitch Darby. All rights reserved. Information provided is deemed reliable, but is not guaranteed and is subject to change without notice.
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