BEFORE YOU BUILD
Buying a new home is a very exciting and important decision. It’s probably the largest financial commitment you will ever make, and a big personal step. But the process can also be a bit intimidating and confusing, especially if you are a first time buyer.
When you buy a new home, you want to feel confident about the choices you make. You want to deal with builders and sales agents who listen to you, understand your needs and treat you with honesty and respect.
Do Your Homework
This will make it easier for you to ask the right questions and know if the builder or sales agent is delivering the quality of service you want.
Know what you need. Spend some time considering your housing needs. Is your family still growing? What sorts of neighbourhood amenities are important to you? How long do you expect to live in the home and how will your needs change over time?
Know what you want. Visit model homes in your area to get ideas. Be clear with sales staff at the model sites – tell them you are not ready to buy a home yet, you’re just looking. Good salespeople will be happy to help you without trying to push you into buying before you’re ready.
Have a financial plan. Start by talking with mortgage lenders or a builder who offers buyer financing. They can review your current financial situation and tell you where you stand in terms of mortgage. Ask to be pre-qualified for a mortgage so you know exactly what you can afford to spend. Also ask about other “closing costs” such as mortgage insurance, taxes, interest adjustments and land taxes. You want to know about this before you buy.
Ensure that you get quality and value. With new homes, the builder or sales agent should explain what products and materials have been used in construction. Many major components are backed by manufacturers’ warranties – ask for details. In addition, reputable builders offer a complete New Home Warranty backed by a Provincial New Home Warranty Program. Choosing a new home should assure you of many yeas of maintenance-free living. Ask the builder to explain the maintenance requirements of their homes so you know exactly what will be required.
Know the professional home builders in your community. Before you look at new homes, we suggest you obtain a list of members of the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association in your area. For a list of members, please click here.
Check out the Builder as well as the Home
It takes training and a great deal of skill to build a high-quality home. Not everyone who enters the industry is equally qualified or experienced. When you get to the sales office or model home, make sure you also take a close look at the builder behind it.
- Find out how many years the company has been in business – experience is important
- Ask what industry-sponsored training programs the builders or staff have taken recently. Housing technology is constantly changing, and professional home builders invest in keeping up to date
- Ask about the trades who work for the builder (framers, plumbers, electricians, etc.) Make sure they are established and reputable firms
- Check with the NSHBA to find out if the builder is a member in good standing. Association membership is another important indication that the builder is a committed professional
- Talk with people who have bought homes from this builder in the past and ask them if they are satisfied customers
Be Clear About What you Want and Expect
It’s hard to get what you want if you don’t ask for it. Professional builders want to know your expectations and needs, so don’t hesitate to speak your mind. If the builder or sales agent is not responsive to your questions, chances are you should choose another company.
- When there are things about a new home that you don’t understand, ask questions. It’s the builder’s job to explain things to your satisfaction
- Ask questions about the builder. You need to let the builder know that character and reputation matter to you. Click here for a list of questions to ask your builder
- Balance price and value. A price that’s “too good to be true” probably is. The range of prices in the new home market generally reflect differences in location, features and quality of construction. If your builder’s prices seem out of line with others in your area, ask for an explanation. Higher prices should reflect better quality materials, finishing, features and service. The opposite is usually true when prices are lower than average. Make sure the price you are offered will deliver the quality you want
- Never say “yes” until you are 100 per cent sure about the builder and the home. “Hard sell” sales tactics are a good reason to say “no thanks”
For more information about the written contract, please click here