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Going brand new? Five-point checklist for homes

If you are drawn to the variety, creative floor plans, energy efficient systems and fresh look of a new home, there are important factors to consider before you make an offer to buy.

New-home communities have become more popular in the Puget Sound area, especially with the dwindling inventory of existing homes. The local housing market saw a huge jump in new-home sales throughout December and January. With the growing appeal of never-lived-in, customized homes, competition for new homes will continue to rise.

Here are five points to consider before choosing a new home:

What is the builder’s reputation and history? – Your builder is responsible for everything from your home’s foundation to the roof over your head. One of the best ways to select a builder you can trust is to look at its track record.

“When you look for a builder, you want to consider how long they’ve been in business and how satisfied their former customers are,” said Peter Wheeler, marketing specialist at Pacific Ridge Homes.

Does your builder offer a homeowner’s warranty? – A homeowner’s warranty that covers the structure and systems of your new home provides peace of mind. If something goes wrong, the warranty clearly outlines how it will be fixed.

Will the location fit your lifestyle? – Location not only affects the future value of your home, it plays a huge role in your everyday life. As you consider a new home, ask yourself: Is the neighborhood you’re considering safe? Is it in a good school district? How close is it to your work, your family, your friends and your favorite restaurants?

What features are important to you? – Every builder includes certain features. These standard features often come in a strict cookie-cutter layout. Typically, these are non-local builders who are unfamiliar with the region. However, some builders offer a wide variety of standard and customizable options. Working with a local builder allows you can customize your home to ensure your wants and needs are met.

Why buy new? – A brand-new home will typically cost more than an existing home. In the long run, however, buying new can save you from expensive repairs.

“Older homes come with wear and tear,” said Heather Andreini, a new-home specialist at John L. Scott Real Estate. “Typically, they require more maintenance that can quickly cut into the initial savings of buying used. Energy efficiency is one of the major changes we’ve seen. Today, new homes are more efficient. For homeowners, that kind of efficiency means big savings in their monthly utility bills.”

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