As soon as you begin the new-home shopping process, a whirlwind of questions are bound to flood your brain, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.
Don’t worry, it’s only natural; buying a new home can take a while and there are many weird yet important questions that may enter your mind as you walk the path to your dream home.
There’s no question too weird or too personal when it comes to buying a home, so don’t be afraid to ask. To help you out, we compiled a list of common questions — and answers — that may pop up during the process.
Why am I seeing so many open floor plans?
Just like with fashion, cars and natural grocery stores, trends change. In floor plan design, new homes are seeing a shift to open floor plans.
“There has been a move afoot to a more casual lifestyle, so there’s less formality in most construction,” says Bill Weidacher, a Realtor with Fine Homes Group at Keller Williams International in New England. “There’s a lot more of a casualness toward floor plans and open concepts.”
Additionally, Weidacher sees a movement toward other trends like stone façades, steeper pitched rooflines, and homes with more focus on green energy and outdoor living spaces.
Why are the model kitchens and bathrooms so flashy?
Many buyers coming from a used home are looking for upgrades in their new kitchens and bathrooms, so why not show them the best of the best?
“A new home is an opportunity to get a completely upgraded kitchen, which is something that many people coming from a previously owned home are looking for,” says Julie Dombrowski, communications director for Daniel Island Real Estate and the Daniel Island Company, a developer of two popular master-planned communities in Charleston, S.C. “Kitchens tend to be the focal point of today’s homes, so it makes sense that buyers pay particular attention to this space.”
Oversized showers are another big selling factor Daniel Island has noticed.
“Today’s buyer will sacrifice a bathtub for the extra size in the shower,” says Rosie Stieby, a sales associate with Daniel Island. And extras, whether it be a steam shower or stone floors, really help make a better impression on buyers, she adds.
Why are there so many huge closets in model homes?
We’ll give you one guess.
It’s because modern buyers are looking for it! They are simply searching for more storage space.
“Everyone always asks about storage,” Dombrowski says. “Even in the largest homes, many clients are looking for specialized storage like extra-large laundry rooms, wine cellars, extended garages, etc.”
But before you get sold on the extra storage space, and the flashy kitchen and bathrooms for that matter, it’s important to check with your builder to make sure certain features in the model homes, like refrigerators, washers and dryers, and that extra storage space, are actually included in your plan.
Will I have to follow the rules in this community?
Can I bring my chickens along with their coop? Can I hang my underwear outside on the line? Can I paint my exterior pink?
Offbeat questions like these are not uncommon, but they may be controversial if you’re moving to a community with its own guidelines or homeowners associations (HOAs).
“Pay attention to the covenants of the community, because a lot of new homes are built in subdivisions or communities where there may be some surprises,” says Link Moser, a Realtor with Fine Homes Group.
Designed with you in mind, guidelines and HOAs are put in place to keep your new-home investment what it is, a good investment. Having a uniform and beautifully landscaped community with pristine amenities only adds value to your home.
Can I build a relationship with my builder?
We admit, it’s not actually weird to want to build a relationship with your builder — they are the ones bringing your dream home to life after all — but it certainly is a good idea.
“It’s important that buyers feel confident and comfortable with their builder,” says Ray Rodriguez, a regional mortgage sales manager for TD Bank in metro New York.
To do so, he suggests doing a bit of research and scheduling a walkthrough or meeting at a recent project or model home.
“This will give you a better understanding of the work they do and the opportunity to ask questions,” he says, and you’ll be free to nail down any concerns or desires you have for your new home.
You likely have plenty of other questions about shopping for a new home, and for those we direct you to the New Home Guide. However, we’d like to leave you with a few helpful hints to take the weirdness out of shopping for your new home.
Lenders offer down payment assistance programs.
According to Rodriguez, many mortgage lenders require a cash down payment of 5 percent, 10 percent or 20 percent of the sales price. This may be difficult for some buyers, but there’s no reason for that to shatter your dreams of owning a new home.
“The great news is that many lenders today are offering home affordability and down payment assistance programs,” Rodriguez says. “TD Bank offers the Right Step mortgage, which allows borrowers to put as little as 3 percent down without the added cost of private mortgage insurance.”
Many builders also offer incentives, such as paying closing costs, if buyers use a preferred or in-house lender, so it’s important to investigate all of your options.
Check your credit report.
It’s important to have a credible credit score to help you qualify for better loan programs. Learn more about your credit score here.
“When purchasing a home, the best way for consumers to prepare and plan ahead is to check their credit report,” Rodriguez says. “It’s important to obtain a credit report before purchasing a home to ensure that everything is accurate.”
Be prepared to make timely decisions. With many options in fixtures, exteriors, floor plans and financing, it may get easy to fall behind, and that will only delay the construction process.
“Stalling for a week to make a cabinet choice might delay the process as much as 30 days,” Weidacher says. And if you’ve got subcontractors lined up for work, they could move on to another project instead of waiting for the construction crew to catch up.
“One little change can have a ripple effect in both cost and time to completion,” Moser says.
Don’t be closed-minded with your options.
Going into the entire homebuying process with an open mind will only help expand your options, which could help you find a home you may not have considered otherwise.
“Don’t be rigid in your home style,” Weidacher says. “If you discount certain styles that don’t appeal to you without actually viewing them, you might not realize that they could have worked even better than what you were thinking.”
And that’s what really matters. The new home process is all about you, your dream home and what suits your personality and style, whether it be traditional, classic or just plain weird.
“It can be very exciting, it can be challenging,” Weidacher says. “If you’re open to many different looks, floor plans, styles and finishes, your new home will be something you can be excited about moving into.”
Drew Knight is a freelance writer for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). He graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2014 with a degree in agricultural communications and journalism.