How to Navigate New Construction

How to Navigate New Construction

How to Navigate New Construction

With tight inventory and non-contingent offers, new construction has turned into an amazing opportunity for home buyers at all price ranges. Last night I received a phone call from someone asking me about new construction and they asked me why they would need a Realtor if you are planning on purchasing a brand new home?

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Craning trusses on a custom build in Richmond, Virginia.


Here is my take.

The world of new construction can be confusing if you have never been involved with it before. After reading this article, you should feel more confident heading into the new construction world! Let's start by breaking down a few different categories of builders, and going from there.

  1. National Builders: Think of your big companies like Ryan Homes, Stanley Martin, Toll Brothers, D.R. Horton, etc. These companies have a process in place to make it easy for the consumer to get a home, providing financing options in-house, floor plans ready to go, and sometimes having spec homes that are move-in ready. These companies also purchase large land deals that create awesome neighborhoods with plenty of amenities including pools, gyms, common areas, etc. Typically, the finishes will already be picked out and packaged with modern designs and trending features.
  2. Custom Builders: Exactly what it sounds like. Everything is detail-oriented and catered to your exact needs. The custom home process can seem overwhelming at times, but if you have a builder that has a process and team in place to get you all the design help you need, it is not as intimidating as it may seem. Going with a custom builder will be time consuming. You will choose every detail that goes into the home, such as the floor plan and the location of the home. Items you will also be selecting will include interior and exterior finishes, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need and so on. If you know exactly what you want, this will be the route to go. The home you see me post about routinely at the corner of River and Gaskins is a perfect example of a custom home.
  3. Semi-Custom: This is somewhat of a blend between the national builders and custom builders. These builders will purchase large plots of land, and want you to build with one of their floor plans. From there you usually will be able to choose different finishes throughout the home and add other features that you would like. Most of the time these are builders that are local to a specific area.
  4. Spec Builder: These are builders that will build something similar to a custom home, however they will choose all of the finishes, layouts, and other details then put it up for sale. Nine times out of ten a Realtor will be representing this builder. It is very similar to purchasing a home that is a resale, however it is brand new. We have a few projects like this in the works so stay tuned for some awesome spec homes!
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Lumber package on a job site in RVA.

Now that we understand the main types of builders, let's discuss why you would need a Realtor to work on your behalf for each type:

  1. National Builder: There will typically be a sales representative and a project manager representing the builder. Establishing a strong relationship with them is key in the building process. You want to make sure they know what floor plan and package you selected and that they understand your move in timeline as well. Although this seems like it may be easy to do without the help of a Realtor, an experienced agent will keep in contact with the team the builder has in place, and will make sure that you are informed every step of the way. It is also helpful to have an agent working with the builder's lender to make sure that is truly the best route to take when it comes to financing this home.
  2. Custom Builder: This is the most important home to have an agent work with you. Custom builders have perfected the art of creating your dream home. However, there is A LOT that takes place in order to get started here. Let's break it down. First you need to find a lot in the area that you wish to build. Hiring a Realtor to track this down is the best way to find the place where you want your home to be. It is also important that your Realtor understands the nuances of land deals and how the construction process relates to this. Alright, here comes the intimidating part. Making your selections! It took us at least 4-5 months on our last custom build to pick out everything we wanted for this home. You will be meeting with EVERY supplier to pick out doors, trim, paint colors, floors, plumbing fixtures, electrical fixtures, brick colors, siding, roof materials, and the list goes on. If you are planning on building custom, make sure you area ready to devote time to this. If you are not willing to put the time in for a project like this, going the semi-custom route might be a better option.
  3. Semi-Custom: Very similar to above in the Custom section, having a Realtor work on your behalf is essential to making sure the right expectations are being set between you and the builder. It is time consuming and tedious to try and figure out all of the specific details of building a home, even when it is semi-custom instead of full-on custom. Your Realtor will be the advocate for you and make sure you are on track for a smooth new construction experience. Also, if the builder does not have a preferred lender or title company in place, your Realtor will assist with making the connections there to make the process seamless.
  4. Spec Builder: This is very similar to purchasing a resale home, so it is fitting that having a Realtor would be necessary in this scenario. The process is very similar with one major exception, it is brand new! More often than not, another Realtor will be representing the builder, so having a Realtor that you can trust to represent you is critical in this type of transaction. A Realtor can help you double check that all the proper permits and new construction procedures were done correctly, and can refer you to a title company/attorney that will be able to look into the deed/title paperwork at the local jurisdiction to make sure everything is clean and ready to go for you to be able to move in.

These are the main differences between the different types of builders that are out there creating homes for you to eventually move into. I know it can be difficult to envision the final product (especially when you are looking at a bare tract of raw land). Trust me, if you have the patience and the vision to see what your new home could be, it is all worth it in the long run. Let me know if you have any questions about anything above or if you have any questions about existing homes as well!

Check out my website at Gary Martin | Richmond Real Estate Expert ( for more information on the home selling or purchasing process.

#builder #realtor #richmondva #rva #construction

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Gary Martin
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Helping Home Sellers and Purchasers navigate the Richmond, VA Real Estate Market

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