In addition to working residential real estate we, Diana, Karen & Mary, work in New Homes. Back in the day when real estate was booming this was our niche. We still enjoy it, but it has changed. It has changed in many ways. There was a time that we would sit with a buyer going over plats with lot dimensions and and lot elevations to help them choose their lot. Then we would pour over the different floor plans/blue prints to help them choose their dream home. Today, there are no plat maps. There are no blue prints. We look at artist renderings of the plat and artist renderings of the different floor plans. We do not know lot dimensions nor the square footage of different rooms in the floor plan. We do not even know the “foot print” of a house plan. (the foot print is the width and length of a house). We can walk a lot with buyers and we can sit there and describe the floor plan, but we can’t give any dimensions. We are lucky to have a spec home to show. In addition, there are no lists of options. Let me rephrase that. There is a huge list of options but not something we can pass out. The option list is made for each individual floor plan and includes every option for every room for every plan. Typically the options are about 13 pages long for each floor plan. And then there is the contract. No longer do we use the GAR (Georgia Association of REALTORS® )contract. Builders have bought into these programs that generate a “builder contract” while placing orders for all the different subcontractors who are involved in the construction of the house. Basically it means the sales agent is now doing the production work as he/she writes the contract. In theory this is a great idea. It saves the builder money because he/she does not have to pay anyone to do the production. The agent works solely on commission. For the buyer this could mean lower prices, if the builder choses to pass that savings on to the purchaser. What this also means to the buyer is that “custom” options are a thing of the past. Though some programs allow for Custom Option Requests, some do not. If the program allows for it, the process of writing a contract could take much longer. The program also creates stopping points for adding things to the contract at different stages of construction. Take for instance, as a buyer you suddenly realize you need an additional electrical outlet in a room. You notice this as you are walking through the house while the electrician is working in the house. Back in the “old” days you could run to the model home and the agent could call the on site builder. From there the builder could run over to the house or call the electrician to put in a new outlet. That’s not how it works. Today, an order must be created, signed by both parties and then sent to the vendor. Even though the vendor/electrician is there in the house, he cannot make a change without a change order. This is where there could be a cut off. While you the buyer are busy trying to get this change order signed, and the agent needs to get the seller to sign, construction is still going on. Most times it will be too late.
If you are thinking of buying a new home, especially if you are having it built. Please be patient. Don’t be surprised to hear the words no, a lot. Prices are generally not negotiable. A builder has to keep prices up for appraisals. If a neighborhood is in close out, you may have a chance to negotiate. If a spec home has been sitting for a while, you may have a chance to negotiate. If the neighborhood is having trouble getting “off the ground” you may have a chance to negotiate but most often, there is no negotiating.
Read the standard features as that is really all you are going to get. If it is not in the contract nor on the standard features page, it will not be in your house. Once you have a binding contract there is not much to do but watch it go up. There will be times you will think they stopped working on your house. They are probably waiting for a city or county official to inspect. Concrete has to cure, depending on the weather this could take a few days. When you do your walk through, make sure everything you mention is on the punch out sheet. Don’t let anyone tell you, “Oh, don’t worry about that. I have someone coming this afternoon to fix it.” It must be on the punch out sheet.
Trust the on site agent. I don’t say this just because I am an on site agent but, I have done this a long time. I know so many agents in this niche and believe me they want you to be happy. We do our best to give you correct information. We rely so much on the on-site builder and the corporate office to give us truthful/honest answers for all your questions. We want you to be happy because you might refer us to a friend. We want you to be happy because you are living in the neighborhood and will meet potential buyers on the street. We want you to be happy because you just made the largest purchase of your life and you should be happy.