6 Key Things You MUST Know Before You Buy or Build
Who doesn’t love spending a weekend peeking into newly constructed houses and getting a firsthand look and feel of what it would be like to move into that perfect home? There is nothing like walking into a freshly painted and decorated new home that is up for sale and picturing yourself coming home. But are you judging the home logically? Read these 6 valuable tips before you decide to build or buy your new home.
Although a home may feel perfect when you walk through on a tour, you are only scratching its surface. It is like going on a first date—the home looks good on the outside, but what is it like on the inside? Don’t be too quick to decide what is truly right for you based on the first glance of a seemingly attractive new home. Remember, you will live in your dream home for 10, 20, 30 years or more. It is well worth your time to put serious thought into it.
If you are shopping for your dream home, here are some key things to consider before getting emotionally serious about building or buying.
1 – Determine your budget before looking at homes.
What can you afford to buy? Nothing is more depressing than touring a fantastic home you know you can’t afford. That just eats away at the soul.
Visit your mortgage lender and find out how big of a loan you can qualify for. If you can, get prequalified. Knowing how much you can afford to pay solves a lot of problems and shows sellers and builders you are serious about a new home. But remember— just because you qualify for a certain loan, that doesn’t mean that amount should be the price of a home you can afford. Work out a budget and include all the other hidden costs of buying and owning a home. Only then will you have a realistic idea of the home price range you should be looking at.
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2 – Pick a city and a neighborhood.
Remember, you will live in your new home for a long time. You should balance common sense and what you can afford when choosing the location of your home. If your job is in Edinburg but you begin looking in the mid-Valley, there can be problems ahead. And if you like the North McAllen neighborhoods but look south of Highway 83, again, you are defeating yourself. Do your homework. Visit your choice locations during peak traffic hours to experience what it would be like to live there, or after a heavy rain storm to see if the area floods.
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3 – Find a reputable builder.
Any “Joe Schmoe” can build a home. There have also been “builders” out there who were there one day and gone another. Find a builder who has been around for a while and who has a great reputation with both customers and suppliers (such as lumber companies and building supply stores). Suppliers are just as important because you can tell a lot about a company by the way it treats its vendors.
This RGV New Homes Guide magazine is a perfect place to start your search. We only promote builders who are active members of the BUILT TO SAVE® program—a high-performance home certification program designed to differentiate builders who voluntarily build energy-efficient, high-performance homes that surpass minimum code standards. Visit www.BuiltToSave.org for a list of registered builder members.
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4 – Tour model homes and newly constructed homes.
On June 3-4 and June 10-11, 2023, the Rio Grande Valley Builders Association (RGVBA) will host its annual Parade of Homes event. This is the perfect opportunity for driving around and looking at some of the finest model homes in the Rio Grande Valley. Go to www.rgvba.org for more information on the homes in the RGVBA 2023 Parade. Make sure you check out the Parade Preview on pages 6 & 7 to see the participants in this year’s Parade of Homes.
And remember, don’t be blinded by a home’s bling. Ask about what’s behind the walls and what you should expect in terms of energy efficiency and home comfort. The only way to know for sure that you are getting a high-performance home with superior quality and energy efficiency is to ask if the home is certified in the BUILT TO SAVE® or ENERGY STAR® programs. Don’t settle for a home built to minimum code standards.
5 – Ask builders for a custom-built home.
When you look at a builder’s new home for sale, remember that it may be only a model for you. For example, that builder’s new home you see in McAllen can possibly be custom-built for you in the area of your choice anywhere in the Valley. All the builders listed in our magazine would be happy to work with you in choosing a neighborhood and lot, assist with architectural design options, or find a home that matches your budget, needs, and desires. You are not limited to what you see in a model home. You CAN design your home and have it custom-built to your needs!
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6 – Ask for a high-performance certificate.
Be prepared. No builder will say that their home is NOT a high-performance home. The question is whether the home is VERIFIED as a high-performance home. Homes verified by BUILT TO SAVE® or ENERGY STAR® receive an official certificate which will be invaluable for your peace of mind and if you decide to sell your home in the future. It will be difficult to convince potential buyers of your home’s high performance if all you have to show for it is the builder’s word.
Both BUILT TO SAVE® and ENERGY STAR® programs require third-party inspections and testing to verify that your home provides you with higher energy efficiency, better comfort, healthier indoor air, and lower utility bills—more so than a similar home built only to minimum building code standards ever could. A high-performance home certificate also means that the home’s construction complies with the current International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Even homes built to minimum code standards should comply with the IECC. That would be another question to ask your builder, because not all municipalities enforce this law mandated by the State of Texas.
Knowing these 6 key things can get you on your way to a “Happy Ever After” in your new home. With the right information, the right choices, and the right people, building or buying a new home can be a wonderfully enjoyable and life-changing experience.