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Confessions of New Construction, The Pilot

by Jennifer Kirby on August 28, 2007
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This is my Pilot episode of the series I am writing about highlighting the construction of our new home. So over the next six months, I will be posting about our home building experiences, including photos of the process, along with any rants or grumblings that will come with it. :)

We have been looking since January at the resale market, but could never find what we were looking for. When we did find it, the home was overpriced and the seller was unwilling to negotiate. (One seller was months away from foreclosure, and refused to take anything but full price.) Beginning to burn out, we took a stab at new construction.

Up until a few months ago, builders were also sticking to their guns and refusing to negotiate or offer incentives. But with the Twin Cities Association of Home Builders reporting the worst months for permits in June and July, builders seemed to finally wake up and smell the coffee. Here are some rules we stuck to. You should to if you intend to buy new construction soon.

Rule #1 – Narrow down the areas you want to live in, then look for builders who are currently in that market.

We knew we wanted to live south of the Twin Cities. My husband didn’t want to be too far away from work, and South of the Minnesota River looked to be our best bet.

Rule #2- Take into consideration PRICE, LOT location, and Amenities. Know what you want.

In almost every subdivision we looked, we were able to find a lot we could live with. Our goals were to have a big backyard for our growing boys to run around on, and enough square footage for 3-4 bedrooms and an office. (I work from home)

Rule #3 – When figuring out what the cost of the home will be, pile on the amenities. The number will most likely be more than you want to spend, but you can work with it.

Once we put in everything we could imagine, the home for each builder was about $20,000 over our planned budget. We then looked at what we could take out, things we could live with out, or projects we could do at a later time. Getting rid of the items we would never use or need also helped.

Rule #4 – It is a Buyers Market. If you don’t ask for concessions, you won’t get any!

A semi-custom builder we spent three weeks with designing a home, gave us a computer generated “price”. Being a Realtor, I knew this was a 2005 number and unrealistic. The builder was offering a $30,000 “off the lot” incentive, but told us to make an offer. We offered $65,000 less than his computer price…he countered at $50,000 off.

Another builder we spent two weeks with designing a home, told us they DON’T negotiate. Then they let us know they were running a special promotion, giving $30,000 off everything, money toward landscaping, and paying a large amount of closing costs. (Hmmm, sounds like negotiating to me!)

SO…who did we go with?

Well, this IS the pilot episode, and I have to leave you with a cliffhanger. So tune in for the next episode of “Confessions of New Construction” in a few days!

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