Choosing The Right Home Builder – Interview Questions

Building a home will be the most expensive and complex project you are likely ever to be involved in. The only way to make sure that you have chosen wisely is to be prepared and conduct enough research to be knowledgeable on the housing market in your area and the builders that you will be contacting. In order to choose the right home builder make sure to take in the following advice as not all home builders are the same.

Basic market research

Now that you have decided to build a home, contracting a home builder should include a proper vetting procedure. Part of this procedure should include understanding the local housing and building markets. One of the best places start is to contact your home builders association in your area or a national building association. These associations can provide qualified, certified professional home builders to start your search. Follow this up by looking at current real estate advertising to assess active builders and pricing guidelines for similar houses that you intend build. Lastly reach out to friends, family and known real estate agents for referrals. By the end of this process you should have a basic understanding of the current housing market and the top builders in your area. Starting with 10 to 15 builders will give you enough prospects to narrow down your choices.

The interview

In order to assess builders in your area to meet your specific needs they should be willing to sit down with you and answer your questions. This provides you with a basic assessment if the builders can your needs.
Ask the following questions:

– How many years have you been in business? How many homes have you built?

– Are you licensed and insured?

– How do you compare to other builds and what are the best features of your homes?

– What type of warranty do you offer?

– Do you have model homes or references that I can contact?

– Do your homes meet the six star energy rating qualifications?

– Can you custom build homes or change current designs to meet my specifications?

– What are the standard features of your homes and what are available upgrades?

– Who will oversee the construction of my home and who is the direct contact for me?

– What is the process for making changes before or during construction?

– How and when will the final price for the home be determined?

– How often will I have access to the home during construction?

– How long will the build process take?

– Are you a specialty home builder or a mass producer?

An experienced builder will be able to answer all of the questions easily and quickly. If the builder vacillates on any of these questions they may not be the right choice. One of the most important aspects of home building is receiving value for quality not building the absolute cheapest structure possible.

By following these tips and asking the right questions the largest project will get off on the right foot with the right builder. By having an in-depth interview it will give you the peace of mind to move forward and even if issues or concerns arise they will be expertly handled.

Buying a New Home – Use a Buyers Agent to Negotiate the Best Deal With Custom Home Builders

If you’re in the market for a new home, you probably do like a lot of people do: Drive around from builder to builder, talking to many different sales representatives in each of the sales offices. I know. I’ve been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and it’s no fun. But did you know that strategy may be costing you money?

You actually are missing some golden opportunities in the negotiation process if you take the “go it alone” approach and hit the pavement yourself. Sure, you get to fill up your gas tank a few times and get frustrated hearing all the different sales pitches from each builder, but you can live with that. It’s the money you want to save, right?

The problem is that buying directly from the builder with no agent representing you means you don’t have an advocate on your side who knows the market and can potentially bring you better prices and terms. If you use the sales agent assigned to you when you show up in the on-site sales office, they are not acting as your agent but as the builder’s agent. They’re job is to represent the builder, not you.

Use a buyer’s agent to purchase a new home

On the other hand, there is a tremendous benefit to using a buyer’s agent to help you buy a new home. Not just any buyer’s agent, of course; it’s important to use an agent who specializes in new homes and knows the local builders. Your agent’s knowledge of the many builders in your area is what will give you the edge over the buyer walking into the model home or sales office off the street.

The reason it’s so beneficial to have a buyer’s representative on your side is that the home builders are in competition for your business. If you don’t know the deals available down the street or across town, you won’t know to bring that up in your negotiation. Besides, who really likes negotiating, anyway? An agent who specializes in new homes and knows those builders will be aware of the buyers’ incentives they offer and can help negotiate one for you.

In addition, when you have a buyer’s agent, they have a legal fiduciary duty to advocate on your behalf. A buyer’s contract with an agent specializing in new home sales ensures that you’ll get better advocacy at the negotiating table and the potential for a sweetheart deal that only an agent who brings the builders volume business could get.

Custom Home Builders Accommodate Buyers In A Changing Market

After the recent year or so in a sluggish market, custom home builders are making strides in meeting the expectations and desires of their buyers. While recuperating from a slow housing economy, custom home builders are finding solace and increasing sales by giving buyers what they want in the form of upgrades and eco-friendly features.

Large national companies also consistently provide consumers with attractive amenities, but they are finding it more difficult to meet the demands of buyers who yearn for “greener” options and inexpensive homes. As the laws of demand in a market dictate, both custom home builders and large national companies are attempting to “give people what they want.”

Custom home builders are accommodating the desires of their buyers by offering personalized options in new homes. Outdoor living options are a high priority in the minds of many buyers and designers. While a barbecue grill and kidney-shaped pool have traditionally been the standard, buyers are now opting for outdoor kitchens, kid-friendly pools, putting greens, ramadas, and even a few backyard skate parks. Designers say kitchens are a key focal point indoors, showcasing convenience and beauty.

Custom home builders are trying to promote a particular lifestyle through gourmet kitchens, islands, and upgraded appliances. They maintain buyers do not want standard kitchen appliances, choosing instead to have upgraded appliances in their new homes. In custom homes, buyers are also requesting bigger and more elegant guest rooms and bathrooms. In response to buyers wishes, custom home builders are “going the extra mile” to please their buyers.

Arizona new home buyers also follow national trends in their desire to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, and Arizona custom home builders are meeting their demands. Installing energy-efficient appliances is commonplace, but custom home builders are doing more to accommodate buyers who wish to live a “greener” lifestyle. Many Arizona custom builders have adopted construction techniques that emphasize conservation of energy, water, and resources. Yet this type of construction for the large national builders (who build a majority of the new homes in metro Phoenix,) this means completely revising their business structure, which is driven by production. The large builders view this as risky at a time when revenue is down and sales are stalled.

National home builders recognize the environment-friendly market, and many already include more common features such as dual-pane glass and low-water bathroom fixtures. More extensive green construction, though, involves numerous other items: ductwork placed underground or in “conditioned” enclosures and “gray water” systems that reclaim used water from kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms and use it to irrigate the landscaping. These features can be expensive, and national builders are skeptical as to whether enough buyers are willing to spend the additional money on a new home. It is estimated that “going green” increases a home’s price by approximately 5%. National companies are finding it difficult to justify any features that raise a home’s price, at a time when they are trying to clear out their excess inventory.

Markets are influenced by consumer demand. If Arizona’s home buyers continue to follow national and global trends in eco-friendly housing, national builders will benefit from “going green” and begin to see their sales increase. Custom home builders in Arizona are already reaping the benefit by giving buyers exactly what they want.

Sources: “Greater Expectations: Model Homes Build up Buyers’ Appetite for Upgraded Amenities,” Susie Steckner, The Arizona Republic: July 7, 2007.

“Going Green is a Hard Sell for Struggling Home Builders,” Glen Creno, The Arizona Republic: July 20, 2007.

Ten Tips for Evaluating a Home Builder Website

When researching potential new home builders to hire, you need to rely on quality, professionalism, customer service and relevance to your wants and budget. Because most new home searches begin online, evaluating a home builder’s website is crucial to deciding whether or not the home builder deserves to be contacted. If you want to purchase a house, this helpful article offers home buying information and ten tips for evaluating a home builder website.

Because the website of New Home Builder Orleans Homes exemplifies many features indicative of a quality homebuilder website, it was used as a model for what a potential new home buyer should look for in a new house builder website.

House & Floor Plans

When you are considering the purchase of a new home – maybe the biggest purchase you will ever make – you need to know the house is what you want, inside and out. To save potential home buyers time, some homebuilder websites let visitors preview new home plans online. A typical home builder will offer several floor and house plans and a home builder whose website boasts interactive floor plans suggests both technical savvy and awareness of what site visitors want of a residential home builder.

Printable Brochures

Just as the availability of house and floor plans show an awareness of what those in the market for a new home want, the ability to print plans and brochures reinforces that awareness. If you print a plan, you have something tangible to use for reference and to use if you choose to tour new model homes.

Words, Pictures & Interactivity

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes, but different people gather information in different ways. Some people are visual, others interactive while still more prefer to read to gather information. A home builder website should be equally open to these various ways of gathering information. And for those visual site visitors, if the pictures are of decent quality, it likely means the home builder invests in quality in other aspects of their business. One additional note on the pictures that appear on homebuilder websites: if the picture doesn’t show the actual home interior or exterior – shows instead a flower vase, say – it may mean the homebuilder is hiding something.

Usability & Navigation

For government and government contractor websites, the site must be accessible to persons with disabilities. Websites not obligated to this level of accessibility – but that are accessible nevertheless – are indicative of a company sympathetic to the needs of all potential site visitors. This is good, naturally, but accessible and usable websites also lead to a more rewarding site visit. In short, an open, easy-to-navigate website likely means open, easy-to-navigate homes.
Solid site navigation suggests, in addition, an awareness of how visitors will move throughout the website and a desire to make this process as intuitive as possible. A thoughtfully designed website means a thoughtfully designed home so look for sites that are both usable and accessible.

Interactive maps

To find a home, you need to know where it is. Maps, obviously, make the search for a new home easier. Furthermore, an interactive map – one where you can simply click on a location to view homes available in that area – makes the home search that much easier. When a website gives you multiple tools to find a new home for sale, it reinforces the notion that the homebuilder wants to make the search for a new home or new home development easier.

Easy-to-Find Content

Visitors to a homebuilder website may be looking for several unique types of information: new homes, home plans, home locations, financing information, company history, employment information, and home care tips. The content sought by a visitor should be easy to locate in a few simple clicks. Site maps, search fields, information architecture – these all help the visitor through the site. Again, an easily-navigable site suggests the homebuilder knows how to build well.

Search by Various Factors

A visitor in search of a single family home for sale, for example, may be seeking unique features. It so follows that a website should allow visitors to search by various factors such as location, neighborhood, price range, number of rooms, amenities, etc. There are many types of people in the market to buy a new home and a homebuilder should offer information to a variety of individuals. Even a luxury home builder builds a variety of models and a site that lets you search for factors pertinent to your home search suggests the company may be one worth further investigation.

Site Speaks to your Wants and Needs

Just as a site should allow for you to search according to your unique new home needs, a site should also speak to your new home wish list. If you are a first time homebuyer looking to buy a new house, evaluate the site content to see if they speak to needs similar to yours. If the site does not – there is no need to contact the home builder.

Links

A link is a vote for a website because, if there is a link to the site, the linking website owner decided the site content was worth referencing. So check to see if the site is linked to because links are essentially votes of confidence.

Financial Information

It is often said that the decision to purchase a house is one of the biggest most people will ever make. Most people have to think very carefully about investing in a new home, and how to finance it. Even if you have your own plans for financing a new home purchase, look for homebuilder websites that offer financing and mortgage information. It demonstrates a familiarity with the financing process and the ability of the company to give you good, reliable information. Some sites even offer a mortgage calculator [http://www.orleanshomes.com/buy/calc.cfm target=] – a very helpful tool to use during a new home search.

If you evaluate home builder websites based on these factors, you are better prepared to decide which new home builders to contact. One final note. If you like a home builder website, look for interest list forms or forms to request additional information. Filling out these forms not only ensures you are only provided relevant information, they will likely automatically qualify you for special offers, discounts and VIP openings. If you like what you see, fill out the interest list.

* You may republish this article provided you retain the active hyperlinks. Copyright 2006, Robert O’Shaughnessy.