Making the choice to become an Alabama homeowner is just the first of a long string of potential life-altering decisions you will make over the next few months, hopefully culminating with moving into your dream home. One of the first choices to make is whether to buy an existing home or to buy a new construction home in Alabama. Many first-time home buyers assume they will go house hunting with a real estate agent to find an available “starter home” or “fixer upper,” believing that’s all the home they can afford. However, given that we enjoy some of the most reasonable home prices in the nation, buying a new home in Montgomery, Alabama is potentially more affordable than you think. In addition, new constructions offer customization options, are typically more energy efficient and require less maintenance than older, existing homes.
Even so, buying a new construction is usually a different process than buying an pre-owned home, so to help you out, Lowder New Homes has put together this brief guide on how to buy a new construction home.
Get Your Finances in Order
Before getting started, take a little time to do an inventory of your finances. Take a look at your income and expenses; pull your credit report and look for mistakes or issues that might lower your score. If you have a lot of credit card debt, you might want to pay off some of those cards before trying to qualify for a home. If you have a local lender you trust, schedule a meeting to get pre-qualified for a loan so you can at least get an idea of how much home you can afford. The purpose here is to get a basic idea of what to look for in a home and any challenges you might face in qualifying. Negative issues might not necessarily stop you from being a homeowner, but knowing where you stand financially will save you some time during the buying process and hopefully avert any unwanted surprises.
Make a List of Needs and Wants
How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want or need in a new construction home? Do you want a larger home or a smaller home? Looking for an open floor plan? Flexible space? Energy efficient and eco-friendly features? Are there some particular neighborhoods or subdivisions you’re interested in? We recommend making two lists — one for “must haves” and a wish list. These lists will help you narrow your search to a floor plan that ticks most of your boxes.
Choosing a Builder to Work With
You want to choose a builder carefully, in part because you obviously want your new home to be built well, and in part because you may be working with this builder over the next several months. Look for a builder with plenty of local experience and good references, preferably one who builds in one of your preferred neighborhoods. Be sure to ask about buyer incentives and deals which can save you money on your budget; many buyers are able to avoid closing costs by negotiating with the builder.
Deciding on a Home
Once you’ve chosen a builder, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is whether to choose an inventory home or to “go custom” and build from the ground up. The builder may be able to offer a move-in ready home from his existing inventory that will suit your needs well, but building a new home may also give you more options for upgrades and individualizing the home to your needs.
Best Time of Year to Buy or Build?
Some people wonder if there’s an optimal time to buy a new construction home. Since Alabama weather is fairly mild year-round compared to other parts of the country, you can typically buy almost any time of year with little difficulty. However, many people believe that if you have a choice, fall may be the best time to buy a new custom home. It’s a “sweet spot” between the summer rush and the winter slowdown, when both builders and lenders may have more time to give you personalized attention and process your paperwork. If you’re building from the ground up or choosing a home in progress, buying at the beginning of the fall season may give you the chance to move in before the holidays. If you’re buying a finished inventory home, buying anytime during the fall or winter should give you the same benefit.
Lowder New Homes is here to answer any additional questions you have about how to buy a new construction home in Alabama. To learn more, give us a call at 334-270-6789.