By Tammie White
Franklin TN is in a hot seller's market. Due to the lack of inventory in existing homes, a growing number of buyers are turning to new construction. Buyers should know buying new construction is a lot different than purchasing an existing home.
Here are things to consider before entering into any sales contract on a
Franklin TN new construction home:
1. Why you need your own buyer's agent.
Buying new construction is a complicated process. While it is exhilarating, it is also stressful. Buyers need an advocate who can represent their needs during the purchase.
Builder contracts are long and complicated. They are worded to protect the builders, not the buyers. This is why you need a local expert who has experience with contracts and the building process. Someone who knows how to take charge should something go wrong. Unfortunately, things can go wrong.
As a real estate agent with lots of experience in new construction, buyers often ask if hiring an agent is beneficial. The answer--absolutely.
The builder's model homes are staffed by on-site real estate agents who work for the sellers. In this case, the builders. His job is to represent the best interest of the builder. You want someone who will represent your best interest. That's where your buyer's agent comes in.
You should know that most builders require that your agents accompany you to the first visit and register you as a buyer. Don't just "stop in" without your agent. You may lose the opportunity to have your own representation if you do so. Call your agent and schedule a time to visit new home communities. All contact with the builder's on-site agent should be done through or with your agent present. Your agent is there to protect your interests, they can't do that if discussions take place without their knowledge.
Your buyer's agent should also help you with the new construction home search, provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and monitor the process during construction. Always working on your behalf to ensure you get the best product available.
2. New home pricing and the negotiating process.
New construction home prices begin at a Base Price. This price has been pre-determined by the builder. It takes into account what he paid for the land, the cost of building supplies and labor and the costs related to selling the house, including marketing costs, carrying costs and agent commissions.
The builders are firm on this Base Price. They are not negotiable on this price because it sets a precedence for future sales. However, you may be able to negotiate closing costs or additional upgrades in the home.
Every builder will have a Standard Features Sheet. These are the items included in the base price of the home. Each builder's standard features are different. Some builders may include more features than others. Be sure to get this features sheet before writing a contract. You may find you have to spend less money in upgrades if you go with a builder who includes a lot of features in the base price. Fortunately, many Franklin TN builders include Maple or Birch cabinets, granite counter tops in the kitchen and master bath, stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors in some areas.
NOTE: Many buyers think if they purchase a home directly from a builder that the commission saved by not using an agent will be passed on to them. That is NOT true. Builders have already calculated that into their base price. If you don't use your own buyer's agent, the builder collects a larger profit. Don't make this mistake.
3. Get everything in writing.
These on-site agents get hundreds of buyers through their model homes each month. During the course of a visit, you may think you heard the builder say something that later turns out not to be true. If it's not in the contract, it's not going to happen. Builders contracts are long and complicated. They are written by attorneys who use a lot of legal terms to protect the builder. While your agent will read through the contract, you should also read it thoroughly. You will be required to sign it. Therefore, you should know what it says.
If it's not written into the contract, it's not going to happen. You need to make sure everything is written into the contract, from the upgrades you choose to the agreed upon closing date. Get everything in writing.
Many builders will send you a copy of the sales agreement to read ahead of time. We suggest you write down any questions you may have so you can discuss them before signing a contract.
4. Does the model home include upgrades?
Model homes are designed to showcase the builder's craftsmanship. They usually include lots of upgrades. Don't think that everything you see in these houses are included. It's best to walk through the model and ask the builder what features you see are actually on their Standard Features Sheet. Builders typically charge you for every feature you add from upgraded cabinetry to recessed lighting and everything in-between.
Remember, a standard option for one builder might be an upgrade for another. That's another area where your buyer's agent can help you. They will know the builders who offer more standard features, thereby saving you money on upgraded options.
5. Research the builder.
Many buyers are turning to online reviews to do their research. This can be good and bad. We've seen people leave bad reviews who didn't even purchase a home with the builder. A better source may be the people you see living in the neighborhood. Stop and ask them how the builder treated them and if it was a good experience before, during and after construction. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the builder. Once again, an experienced buyer's agent should also be able to shed some light on this subject. For example, Franklin Homes Realty LLC has worked with many Franklin TN home builders and have a first-hand account of the experience.
6. The builder will require a non-refundable deposit.
At the time of signing your contract, you will be required to make a non-refundable deposit. You'll also need to bring a letter from your lender showing you qualify to purchase the home. If you need to sell your existing home before closing on your new home, then you may be required to bring additional monies.
Each builder has his own requirement. Typically, you'll have to write one check at the time of contract and another after you make your selections at the builder's design center. This deposit is equivalent to earnest money and will be deducted from your purchase price at close; reducing the funds you'll be required to bring to closing.
As stated, these funds are non-refundable. Custom builders may require a 10% deposit at the time of contract. If you're building a $750,000 house, they will require a $75,000 non-refundable deposit. We caution buyers to be very sure they are happy with the design plan, lot, and neighborhood before entering into any agreement. If you change your mind later, you will lose all deposits made.
7. There will be additional expenses related to new construction.
As a new construction home buyer, you will have a few additional costs related to your purchase. Your lender will require that a title search and title policy be purchased. In Williamson County, the sellers usually pay this expense. In new construction, the buyer will be responsible. Title insurance is determined by the purchase price of the house. For example, on a purchase of $400,000, the title insurance would be $2,150. This fee will be added to your closing costs and pre-paids and paid at closing. Your lender will be able to give you a complete breakdown of your closing costs and pre-paids prior to close.
8. Builder's lenders.
Builder's lenders often offer money towards closing costs if you use them. It's always best to research their fees and rates and compare them to other lenders. It's possible those funds are actually costing you money by quoting you a higher rate. If your buyer's agent has referred you to a preferred lender, see if he will match that assistance.
9. Is a home inspection necessary on new construction?
Your new home builder will offer a home warranty. Every builder's warranty is different so you should know what the builder offers prior to entering into a contract. Many buyers think that since they have added protection through this warranty, a home inspection is not necessary.
We always advise our clients have a home inspection. A licensed home inspector is an unbiased third party. He doesn't work for the builder. He will do an independent assessment of all the mechanical items including appliances, plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems. The home inspector will also examine the crawl space and attic to make sure everything looks good and is working properly. This gives you additional peace of mind knowing that someone other than the builder has thoroughly assessed the working components of your new home. A home inspection on new construction may cost between $300 to $400 but it's worth every penny.
10. Thirty percent of our business comes from new construction purchases.
Thirty percent of our business comes from helping buyers with new construction home purchases. To say we're experienced would be an understatement. We have worked with many builders in the Franklin area including Drees, Goodall, Hillside, Signature, Trace, Turnberry and Westhaven. In addition, Tammie has built three personal homes of her own. She has experience as both a buyer and an agent; giving her expertise not all agents possess.
As stated earlier, the buyer's agent's fee is already calculated into the base price on the home. It costs you nothing to have an agent advise you during the process. Be sure to opt for this added protection.
Buying Franklin TN new construction can be exciting. Buying Franklin TN new construction with an experienced buyer's agent will assure you have adequate representation during the process; making it even more enjoyable when your home is complete.
When it comes time to buy your Franklin TN new construction home call the experienced agents at Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752.
About Tammie White, Franklin TN REALTOR®
Tammie White is a REALTOR® and Principal Broker/Owner of Franklin Homes Realty LLC in Franklin TN. Tammie works with relocation buyers looking to purchase a home in Franklin and the surrounding Williamson County area. She understands the way buyers search for homes making her an invaluable asset to Franklin home sellers. Tammie's website, www.FranklinHomesRealty.com, has become the premier search tool for buyers relocating to Franklin TN. She has been writing a real estate blog since 2009 and been quoted in various publications including the LA Times, Skype.com, The Tennessean and Williamson Source.