Tips for Buying a New Construction Home – Your Own Representation and Inspection


There’s a buzz in the air – new homes and developments are coming to the area and you are intrigued. What if you could move? What if there were no more expensive hassles with aging, inefficient A/C units or appliances? With brand new appliances, plumbing, heating, and electric, you could be repair-free for (at least a few!) years. With new construction, you would get to choose your home’s finishes according to your taste and preferences. You could enjoy the most up-to-date design elements and trends and the cost savings of more energy efficient construction.  Plus, nothing beats that new house smell! You’re looking at all the options and are almost convinced that new construction is the way to go.  

Buying new construction seems simple, right? Just decide on the right floor plan, choose the perfect finishes and the lot with the best view you can afford, then sit back and watch your new home go up. No unexpected repairs to deal with during inspection, no extended negotiations with sellers. Right?

Slow down and look before you leap! In any real estate transaction, it’s important to have independent representatives on your team, even if the process seems straightforward. While builder agents will warmly welcome you the moment you walk into the sales center, it’s important to remember that they work for the builder. The builder’s agents can provide a wealth of information about the community, the models for sale, amenities and upgrades, however, he or she ultimately represents the builder’s interest and may not be the person you want directing your new home purchase.

While you don’t have to hire your own real estate agent, it’s certainly advisable. “The builders must follow a strict set of rules, however, they do have their own contracts that can contain confusing twists and turns,” explains Ginny Huffman, President of the Tucson Association of Realtors. The standard real estate contract for resale is written to strongly protect the buyer, however that is not so with new builds.  Each builder has their own contract that is designed to protect themselves – not you the buyer.  “Having your own dedicated real estate agent willing to go to bat for you helps add a level of comfort and peace of mind throughout the transaction. He or she will guide you in what questions you should be asking, inspections you should initiate, and assist with the negotiations. Moreover, it is the builder who pays the cost of your realtor’s service. Having your own representation costs you nothing, and giving it up won’t save you money.”

Your realtor can help you through the entire timeline of new home construction, from your first visit at the sales center to closing. Along the way, your realtor adds an important extra set of experienced eyes on the contract, ensuring that you are clear on all requirements, deadlines and timelines. An experienced buyer’s agent may advise you on wiggle room with negotiations and offer you access to a wider range of mortgage brokers who may have options better suited to you than the builder’s in-house lender. He or she can also help you navigate the often overwhelming process of selecting finishes and upgrades by directing you to smart upgrade choices that will give you the best return on investment, while avoiding those that may be cheaper to do on your own.

Seasoned realtors understand the value of another team player you should employ, the independent professional home inspector. The current labor crunch that led in large part to the recent cancellation of Nakoma Sky, Oro Valley’s massive planned senior living community, underscores the need for buyer diligence. “The builders are all relying on the same labor force that’s becoming increasingly scarce and not as skilled as it was in the past,” explains Bryck Guibor, President of the Arizona Chapter of ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors), “Buyers need to be on the lookout for mistakes and shortcuts that only a professional home inspector can detect.”

“While a builder will try to assure you not to worry and that your home will have to meet code and be approved by county inspectors, they too are an industry that has become short-staffed and over-worked,” said Guibor, adding “Code entails a minimum standard and all it takes is for one subcontractor to have less than perfect day, then an undetected problem becomes the buyer’s problem, long after the builder warranty has expired.”

New home buyers are encouraged to employ an ASHI certified inspector for a pre-drywall inspection which allows a good view of framing, plumbing, electrical and A/C systems before insulation is blown in and a move-in inspection prior to the final walk-through with the builder to ensure that necessary corrections are completed before closing. They may also opt for a one-year anniversary inspection to address any concerns in advance of their home warranty’s expiration. Building a new home from the foundation up provides the rare opportunity to thoroughly examine a property and the few hundred dollars it costs will purchase a wealth of confidence in your new home’s construction and value.

With trusted professionals on your side, independent realtors and home inspectors who owe primary loyalty to the new home buyer, you’ll rest easy relying on a team dedicated to protecting you and one of your greatest investments!