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If you are looking at new homes in Tampa, FL you are going to have a lot of choices. It is a lot different than buying a preowned home. In a preowned home you already know a lot of things, you know what the community looks like, you have a good idea what your neighbors are like or at least how they keep the homes. With a new home it is not like that at all, depending on what stage you buy the home in. You could buy a home and there is nothing but dirt, as a matter of fact you might not have even seen the home because the builder may not have one built anywhere or you might be at the last or tail end of the community where almost all the homes are built and you get to see what the other homes look like, and you have a good idea what the completed project of the community looks like. Now there are a couple of things when buying a new home you need to keep in mind that you should do no matter what the stage.
The first is try to get an idea on what the overall community is going to look like. Let me give you an example: Let us say there is one builder in the subdivision and let us say that builder is US Homes. Let us say the subdivision is maybe four hundred homes, which is a pretty decent size community. Well if you have one builder most builders will have twelve floor plans each floor plan might have three elevations, but the fact of the matter is usually when it comes to builders out of the twelve floor plans, four of them are going to be purchased quite often, four of them might be purchased occasionally, and then you have four that probably just will never really get built. You are going to have the same thing when it comes to the elevation, the way the home looks. You are going to probably have one elevation that is going to be really, really nice. Another elevation may be nice and the third elevation a lot of people just are not attracted to. So the problem is you tend to get in a community and you tend to start seeing the same homes over and over again, the subdivision really is not that diverse. Now, of course the builder does not tell you any of this and they want you to think it is really diverse with everything they are building, but the fact of the matter is it is not.
When you get into a subdivision that has a lot of builders, now let say you get into a subdivision that has four builders, well four times twelve is forty-eight. Not to mention you have three different elevations, so with everything you have almost a hundred and fifty ways to build the home. Now, it is going to be the same principle but it is just going to be a lot more diverse. You are not going to notice every home being basically the same. I have been in subdivisions where I have gone down and I have seen what appears to be every fifth or sixth home the same home at the same elevation. In a lot of cases it is the model home, because those are usually the best floor plans and the most desirable. So you are going to want to have a good idea on how diverse it is going to be.
Also, what kind of builders are going in there, you are going to need to keep in mind on the builders. You could get one builder and I will say figuratively they have a 2000 square foot home priced at $200,000; and another builder has the same 2000 square foot home but it is priced at $230,000. What is the difference? There is a lot of difference, not just cosmetically, I am not talking tile over laminate, or Corian counter tops over granite counter tops, but the things that you really have to look at. How wide is the lot? Maybe the $200,000 one is on a fifty-foot lot where the $230,000 one is on a sixty-foot lot. The $200,000 one might have ten-foot ceilings, where the $230,000 has twelve-foot ceilings, it is opening up a lot more. The roof pitch is much nicer. The design outside or the elevation has a lot more detail to it. There are a lot of things you really need to pay attention to and look at. A lot of times builders, and some of them are just masters at this, they really know how to, I do not want to say deceive people, but they really understand what buyers are looking for and they could sometimes sell a fairly inexpensive or cheap home and just put granite in it and a lot of other things that the buyers want because the buyers are not really paying attention to stuff like the low ceilings. Maybe the elevation is really, really basic. They are cutting stuff out like the sprinkler system and it is a small lot. So a lot of these things you really need to pay attention to. Sort of like buying a car, you could go buy a really nice four-door car with an engine, transmission, four tires and it is $30,000. But then you go over to the dealership right next door and you have a Mercedes Benz, it is the same four-door car with an engine, transmission, four tires but it is $55,000. There is a difference why the Mercedes is $55,000 and maybe the Honda is $30,000 or $35,000. So you have to look at that with homes as well.
Now, a couple of other things you just might want to ask yourself and in different orientation, if you are buying a home and say it is backing up to a vacant lot. Well, I would call the city or county, the zoning department, and I would see what it is zoned for. I would not rely on the builder rep. One thing to keep in mind when you are dealing with builder reps; yes they are nice, they are there to help you but their loyalty goes to the builder and their job is to sell the home. They are not going to point out if there is going to be a strip center, commercial property, or maybe even apartment complexes built behind. They are there to sell a home and once you sign on the dotted line you are pretty much locked in to buying that home. I have had clients, I have gone out, and I have listed there home. I had one in a fifty-five and older community and it was zoned for a fire station. Now, he was not too happy years later when they put that fire station in, as a matter of fact almost everybody on the whole street was selling because they did not want to back up to that fire station noise. So you are going to have to look at it. Let us say, go back to US Homes, you are going to want to go out and you are going to want to talk to some people who have built some US Homes. Now, maybe if they have not built any in this community, you are going to want to get a good idea where the builder has built before and you are going to want to do some door knocking. I know this is hard, I know you are probably not going to want to do it, but believe me there is one thing people love to talk about whether they have had a good experience with a builder or a bad experience with a builder you will probably make their day by talking about it. Just going up to the door, knocking, tell them you are looking to buy a home in this subdivision or another subdivision by this builder and ask them how the process was. A lot of cases, a lot of the better companies hire the really good builders, really good architects, and really good sales rep. Some of the ones that are not that great a builder tend to hire the lower level sales reps, lower level builders, lower level contractors, etc.
So it is really a good idea to start studying and doing a lot of research on the different builders out there. Another thing you could do is talk to your real estate agent, if you have a real estate agent you will definitely want to work with them. A lot of people think well if I use a real estate agent it is going to cost me more money, it is not and here is why. Builders all set their budget at the end of the year, usually in October or November and they set it off of projections the next year, so the real estate commission is already budgeted in. Whether you use them or whether you do not, it is already paid. No different than the sales rep whatever they are getting paid or any marketing they are doing, etc.
So you will definitely want to use a real estate agent, but I caution you. Make sure if you use a real estate agent they have sold and understand new homes. It is vitally important, because they are going to be able to walk you through the homes and tell you lot about how the home is constructed and what the builder is doing because there is a lot of ways that they could cut corners. So one question I would ask if you are looking at interviewing a real estate agent or even if you found someone you want to work with and you are looking at buying a new home. Are they a new home specialist? Do not ask them that question because they are in sales, of course they are going to say yes I am a new home specialist. Ask them what is the percentage of new homes to preowned that they have sold. What are some of the reputations of some of the builders? What are some of the good communities out there and why? Ask them how many new homes they have sold. I would say, unlike a preowned home which is what it is, you really need to look at a real estate agent that really has sold over a hundred new homes at a minimum, because they are going to have a really good idea on what is going on in the market. The last thing you are going to want to do is get under contract and all of a sudden your real estate agent is out there hibernating for six months, your having problems.