Ten Questions to Ask When Buying a Brand New Home

Buying a new home is exciting! It has never been lived in, and often features numerous modern finishes and conveniences. However, there are also some unique aspects to consider. Here is a list to get you started:

Who is the Builder? Try to find out as much as you can about the Builder. How long have they been in business? Do they have a website? Are they a member in good standing with the BBB or Builder’s Association? Try to do as much research as possible and ask around to find people who have worked with them as well. Ensure you are working with a financially stable company with a good reputation.

Does the Builder have a Show Home or Spec Home you can walk through? Seeing a floor plan and walking through a home can feel very different. Larger Builders often have a Show Home to tour through, complete with all the upgrades, and smaller Builders often have a few Spec Homes to check out. These are homes available for sale, but you can also use these as a springboard for other plans with minor changes. It is always helpful to look at and get a feel for homes by walking through them.

Can I make changes to a home already Built? The answer to this question will depend on the Builder, their flexibility to change, what stage of construction the home is at, and nature of the change, of course. Your realtor can help you navigate the changes and determine what can and can’t be done, by working closely with the Builder. Your great idea may even become part of a future plan!

What is the Warranty? Here in Alberta, all new homes must come with a comprehensive Home Warranty. Some Builders may extend or enhance this Warranty. It is important to know what a Warranty does and doesn’t cover.

What Plans are Available? Builders often have a range of plans to suit your needs, or at least can get access to those plans. If you plan to build from scratch, make sure you have walked through a similar plan, and pay attention to some of the finer details, such as closet and storage space. Certain plans can only fit on certain width lots, so you may have to start with the lot and go from there.

What are the Architectural controls? These are details a house must have within a particular neighbourhood with such controls. For example, if you wish to have a triple garage on your home, make sure the area you are in allows for that garage style. Some neighbourhoods must have homes that conform to a particular style of house (eg. Craftsman or modern contemporary).

Is there an HOA fee? Even if your future home is not a Condo, it may be subject to Home Owners Association fees, which are often due annually or even monthly. We are seeing more and more new Neighbourhoods (particularly in Edmonton) with these fees assigned on Title. Sometimes they are used for aesthetic maintenance of the neighbourhood, or the functioning of a particular feature, such as a fountain. Make sure you know what these are and the related costs.

What upgrades can the Builder provide? Depending on the market, and for the right price, many Builders may be able to include extras such as deck, fence, landscaping and even basement development. It is important that you have a realtor to have on your side to assist through this process.

What services / amenities are available? In new neighbourhoods, you may find that some features easily found in older neighbourhoods, such as schools, are harder to find in a newer neighbourhood being built. Never assume that all services and amenities will be available when you build – communities take time to develop!

Who is Working on your Behalf? The biggest mistake I see Buyers do, is they walk into a Show Home and fall in love with a house, WITHOUT their Realtor! Don’t be that person. Bring your Realtor along (they will register you) so that you have FULL representation and your interests are protected at the Buyer end. This is, after all, one of the most important financial decisions of your life. Use the resources that are available to you. You can save not only money, but a lot of heartache too!

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