Trying to decide whether building a new home or buying an existing house is a good “problem” to have, since either one is a path to the advantages of homeownership. There are pros and cons to each, of course, and your individual circumstances are factors in your decision as well. (There’s even a hybrid choice: Buying a brand-new home that’s already been built by a custom home builder!) Since buying any type of home is likely to be the single largest financial transaction you may ever make, it’s worth the time to research your options and know what to consider before putting money down on your next address.
What to know about building a new house.
Building a house is exciting, challenging, and everything in between. Here are a few things to think about if you’ve never had a brand-new home built before:
- Your home can include all of the features you want and none that you don’t, so it can reflect your taste right down to the last detail.
- You probably won’t have to deal with any expensive repairs during the first few years. As Forbes notes in its article, Is Building A New House Realistic?, “No immediate repairs will be needed once you move into the house. It’s obvious that an older home will require more maintenance. You won’t have this type of issue with a brand new home.”
- You can choose to use the latest, most energy-efficient systems, appliances and materials, which can save you money over the life of the home.
- Your home will be built in accordance with up-to-date building codes, which can make it safer and stronger.
- You won’t have to put any sweat equity into knocking down walls or tearing out flooring that doesn’t suit your taste or needs.
There are more than 330,000 communities in the United States governed by a homeowners association (HOA), according to the Community Associations Institute, and research shows that more than three-quarters of these homeowner report a positive experience with their associations. While buying an existing or new construction home in a community with an HOA isn’t for everyone, there are a number of great reasons why these communities are so popular:
Maintenance of Common Areas and Amenities
Developed communities have features that the entire community shares, ranging from landscaped entrances, walking trails and small lakes, to playgrounds and swimming pools. Homeowners’ HOA dues help cover the cost of maintaining these features to keep them attractive and in good working order. Since such costs are spread among all homeowners, the fees in many communities are surprisingly affordable.
A Cohesive Community Appearance
A community’s Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (often referred to as CC&Rs) set out what homeowners can and can’t do to their houses or lots. The result is a neighborhood where lawns are properly maintained, trash receptacles are out of view, house colors are pleasing, and the community has a streamlined appearance overall. This doesn’t mean that personal touches or changes can’t be made, just that homeowners will need to have planned changes approved before implementing them. In general, a uniform appearance to homes in the community preserves the same look and ambience that attracted home buyers in the first place.
Help With Property Matters
If problems arise with neighbors concerning property matters, having an HOA can help in two ways: The community rules and regulations may be enough to settle any dispute, or the board of directors or other HOA committees can help the two sides communicate to hopefully resolve the issue.
A True Sense of Community
Buyers in a planned community may often be more engaged with one another than residents of other types of neighborhoods because they share an interest in the good of the community as a whole.
If you’ve considered becoming a first-time homeowner or building your first home but aren’t sure it’s right for you—or don’t know where to begin—think about making 2019 the year you start on the path to homeownership. The information below can help you make a New Year’s resolution that you’ll want to stick to!
The Basic Steps to Buying a House
While your individual circumstances, financial situation and the type of property you’re buying will all factor into your personal home-buying plan and experience, these are the foundational steps toward owning your own home.
Step 1: Research homes on the market
If you’ve been dreaming of owning a home, you probably already have certain styles and neighborhoods in mind. It’s important to look beyond a home’s curb appeal or the photos on listings, though, so that you can be a smarter home shopper. Go deeper on the information provided on listings to find out how long a home has been on the market and how much the price may have dropped since it was first listed, and research what other similar homes nearby recently sold for. All of this will give you a better idea of whether asking prices are fair or realistic.
Step 2: Find out what you can afford
There are several online calculators that can help you determine a home-buying budget, but only use these for a general idea. To arrive at the most accurate number, take the time to meet with lenders who can guide you through the process to become prequalified or preapproved for a mortgage loan. You won’t need to fill out lengthy loan applications just yet, but you will need to provide enough information about your finances so that the lender can give you the numbers you need to be ready to make an offer when the right home comes along.