Finding That Perfect Home

Purchasing a new home is one of the biggest investments you will make in your life. There are so many considerations: neighborhood, schools, the layout of the home, price point, even down to the fixtures. Are you looking for specific property, like on a lake or a golf course? Do you need a certain number of bedrooms? Can you live with a fixer property or do you want something turnkey? Determining what you want and need out of a home is the first step; figuring out the right type of home should be the second step. There are three main options when purchasing a home: buying someone else’s home, buying a new “spec” home, or going for the custom built home.


Buying An Existing Home

If you opt to buy an older production home, also known as a tract home, recognize that you may be purchasing some unforeseen issues. While it may pass inspection, the air conditioning unit may not be under warranty anymore, and if it goes out the first summer you live there, the expense is on you. Also, an older home may not have the upgrades, paint colors, or fixtures you like; you may have to spend a great deal of time and additional money on home improvements.


Buying A Spec Home

You could invest in a “spec” home—a home that a new builder is offering at a discount because the owner of the new build dropped out after selecting some or all of the upgrades in the home. You can get a new home for a great price, but you will have to make do with someone else’s paint colors, flooring, fixtures, appliances, or countertops, depending on what they selected and what has already been installed.  If you are looking for a brand new home and the rest of the factors work for you—the location, the floor plan, lot size—then a “spec” home might be a perfect fit. There are a variety of home-builders to choose from in Texas, but it is important that you do a little research before you buy. You’ll want to make sure the home-builder is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau and visit another subdivision your builder has completed, to see the finished product and to speak to some current homeowners. You can ask about the quality of their home and if they encountered any issues after moving in. If you purchase a home in a subdivision and put your own touches on it, you may still be at the mercy of the builder. They may have some variations on the home—for instance, a den can be made into an extra bedroom—but you will be using their blueprint to make your home. There are some other important factors to consider before you purchase the land and build the house:  will you have a long commute to work or town and will that be a problem? If you buy a home on a home-builder’s plot, will you have to landscape and if not, can you live with a dirt lot until you can afford to landscape it yourself? Will you live in a subdivision that has a homeowner’s association? If so, what does it cover and what is prohibited? There are special taxes that are assessed in some areas of Texas, like Mello-Roos bond repayment program that accompanies some new housing projects.  Make sure the home is inspected by a professional of your choice—have it added onto your contract if necessary. Even though the home is brand new, it could have some unforeseen defects.


Building A Custom Home

Building a custom home, however, is the homeowner’s ultimate dream. A custom home is a one of a kind production, built to the specifications you desire. You painstakingly scout for the perfect piece of land in the ideal Texas neighborhood—the one with lots of houses, or no houses, on the water or in the mountains—wherever your perfect spot may be. The lot you buy may determine the size and scope of the home, so make sure you are able to build what you want, where you want before you buy the land. Once you have settled on a location and purchased the land, be prepared to invest a lot of time and money into the project, as a custom home requires a partnership between you, an architect, and the custom home builder. Since the home is to be tailored to your specifications, that means you will be required to make more decisions and in turn, added stress. The upside is you get exactly what you want, down to paint color, finishes, and fixtures. The flexibility of selecting what is right for your family can be a tremendous benefit for someone who can’t add their must-haves into a pre-made home. You will also have more control over the cost of specific items; for instance, if you set a paint budget but learn that your fixtures are going to be more expensive than you first anticipated, you can decide to use a less expensive paint to make up the difference. Also, custom home builders often have partnerships with certain flooring companies, roofers, landscapers, and can possibly get you a discounted rate.


We spoke to various home builders throughout Texas and they all agreed that when building a custom home you should set aside a retainer outside of your budgeted funds to cover unforeseen expenses. It should also be noted that when adding certain amenities to your house, it may work for your family, but they may not be as marketable when you sell the home. If you decide to add handicapped-accessible ramps to your house for your grandfather in a wheelchair, those ramps may not be as appealing to the next buyer. Note, too, that custom homes take more time to build, and if you need to move into your home within a specific time-frame, the home may not be ready. While your builder may do his best to make sure he is meeting the deadlines, a delay could arise from back-ordered appliances, tiles that don’t match, or even acts of nature, like the floods we have seen here in Texas. You should be flexible with your move-in date, just in case. Investing in a custom-built home is a large commitment, one that will require patience, perseverance, planning and the right partnership with the right builder. While the process of building a custom home might seem overwhelming at first, the result will be a beautiful, unique home built just for you!


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