Although pre-existing home sales were still in recovery mode over the last couple of years, new construction seemed to take on wings of its own, especially in our south King and Pierce County areas. From experience in working with several buyers of new construction in new communities, I can tell you that there are many things to consider. Here are just a few:
- Can you tour model homes or previous construction by the builder? Especially in larger communities, builders often construct one or more model homes that display standard finishes and upgrades. Sometimes upgrades are a bit tricky to identify, so you’ll want to be sure you and your broker ask lots of questions about what is included in the base price.
- Is there a HomeOwners Association and are there CC&Rs? If you anticipate buying new construction in south King County areas such as Auburn, Kent, Renton, or Federal Way, you’ll find that, typically, HOA administration is often retained by the builder until the majority of homes are completed. At that time, the Association will elect its own officers and be under its own control, typically still guided by a set of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). CC&Rs are recorded document(s) that list what can and can’t be done as a resident of the community. You’ll want to be sure to review a copy to see if your lifestyle fits within its guidelines.
- Can you choose both the lot and floor plan? You may find that the builder has already pre-permitted a specific home for each particular lot or may not be willing to build on a certain lot until other areas are completed. If you have your heart set on a specific floor plan, you may need to adjust your site preferences.
- What sort of warranty is included? Most builders offer at least a one-year warranty, fixing anything that goes awry during that time period (other than normal wear and tear). Some builders, however, offer extended protection plans perhaps protecting you from foundation issues for 10 years, with peeling paint for maybe only 1-2 years.
- Are there community playgrounds and events? As lot sizes have shrunk in many areas, builders and developers have often set aside areas for outside events. Can you see these by driving through the neighborhood? Does the number and size seem reasonable for the number of homes included in the community?
- And finally, how long before you can move in? What a sticky question! Some of the most popular builders are completely sold out of current, standing inventory, while others have a few homes that are ready to go. Typically, if a builder can get started on your new house right away, you’ll find that it still takes 5-6 months or so to construct a new home. But be prepared for much longer time frames! If you anticipate buying new construction in south King County areas such as Auburn, Kent, Renton, or Federal Way, you’ll find that many of these jurisdictions seem to be painfully slow or just totally swamped in completing the permit process.
Questions? Please give me a call or send me a message about buying new construction. There’s a lot to learn!