Buying Advice

How To Make Buying New Construction A Piece of Cake

If you’ve ever lived in, owned, or renovated an older home, you’ll appreciate the experience of buying a brand new one. There’s a delicious pleasure in moving into your first brand new house. Nobody’s ever lived in it, made it messy, marked up the walls, or scuffed up those shiny, brand new floors. You don’t have contend with any weird smells or dark, creepy closet corners. Like buying a new car and getting to enjoy its new car smell, moving in to a brand new home is an experience like no other. Everything is fresh and new, a blank canvas and you get to be the first to splash your paint on it.

While it’s true that an older home might have lots of character, a new one can have just as much charm, but with no renovations needed! New construction can be a turn-key solution to having your dream home, without any of the hassles. Whether you’re looking to buy a luxurious new, high-rise condo in Kaka‘ako or a newly built beach house along a piece of Hawai‘i’s beautiful coastline, there are a number of key advantages to having a buyer’s agent. While it may seem simple enough to choose your floor plan, make your deposit and wait for the keys, there are a few aspects of new construction investment that require a little more thought.

A new home at Ka Milo at Mauna Lani, on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island.

Hawaii Life’s Director of Business Development, Katie Minkus, R(B), notes, “Many new developments or homebuilders have a licensed broker or team working in their sales office. They make money from selling these properties and represent the seller. It’s really valuable to have someone looking out for your best interests as a buyer.” It’s important to note that the commission for the selling agent is already built into the price of the home, so you won’t save any money on that front. But a licensed professional will be able to advise you and guide you to the right purchase for you and your family.

We’ve outlined six important reasons you should engage a professional real estate agent to represent you in any new construction or development purchase.

Finding a Reputable Developer

Industry professionals with years of experience in the Hawai‘i market are aware of the reputation, quality of workmanship, warranties provided, and the stumbling blocks you might encounter in your purchase. While you may fall in love with a particular home or neighborhood, it’s good to know in advance if a particular developer has been less than responsive to past buyers, especially if you encounter issues with your new home later on. Minkus points out, “Professional agents know the ins and outs of the development market and will guide you to the best property for your situation, and to a developer who will provide excellent service once your escrow has closed.”

Advocating for Your Needs

Out here in the middle of the ocean, construction delays due to shipping are almost routine. The entire process of buying a newly built home can be considerably longer than buying an existing one. In that long period between falling in love with your new floor plan, to getting the keys and moving in, a lot of things can go wrong – including, but not limited to, construction delays, problems with your bank financing, permitting issues, the developers’ financing, and more. Throughout all of this, having a pro dedicated to your needs is critical to ensuring that your interests are protected.

Shopping Around For a Lender

Many larger developments have not only their own sales team representing their interests, but they also have a preferred short list of lenders. These lenders want your business, of course, but their real purpose is to qualify you as a serious buyer for the developer and the developers’ sales team. Your own agent can help you shop around for the lender that’s exactly right for you and your needs and circumstances. Don’t limit your choices by going without your own agent to do this important legwork for you.

Negotiating the Financials

Okay, the reason an agent is better positioned to negotiate on your behalf is twofold. For starters, they have in-depth industry knowledge and they know where a developer might have a little wiggle room to move on price. You hire a lawyer because they know the law and you hire a dentist because they’re trained to take care of your teeth. Equally, a professional agent will know what, where, and when to ask for a price drop.

Developers are interested in keeping their prices consistently elevated, since sales transactions become a matter of public record, and their next buyers will be well aware of the last selling price. This leads us to the next reason you should leave the negotiating to your representative. This is a big investment and possibly the most expensive thing you’ll ever own. A professional real estate agent can save you thousands of dollars and won’t be squeamish about asking for better treatment – because that’s what they do for a living. Talking about your own, hard-earned money can be uncomfortable, but it isn’t uncomfortable for a professional agent. Save yourself the hassle and probably some money and let a realtor do the talking for you!

Guiding You to the Best Design Features & Finishes

So many floor plans, so little guidance! That’s where you’ll be when you sit down to make your choices. But this is, after all, a huge investment. An agent on your side can tell you which finishings and upgrades will make for better resale value later on. They can look at the price bump required to add a private swimming pool and tell you if it’s worth the spend. They can help you choose appliances, flooring and finishing packages that are most appealing to the largest number of buyers, so you don’t end up having to make changes if you want to resell your home at a later date.

Making Sense of Your Contract

Contracts are forever! Unless you break them – and then you’re in for a world of headaches. Before you sign on the dotted line, you should have a trained pro at your side to make sense of the legal-ese. A contract for new construction is far more complex than one for an existing home. You want to make sure to understand every single clause and eventuality, so you can feel confident knowing you really do agree with what you’re signing.

When will the home be completed? What happens if the construction goes overtime? When are funds due? When do you need to start making mortgage payments? What parts of the community are shared use? What if you plan to resell it within the next 10 years as you upsize or downsize? What happens if you’re not satisfied with the final product? Your own agent can help you find the answers to these questions and more.

Naturally, the developers’ agents want to sell you a home. That’s their job – but don’t ever forget that they work for the developer. It’s wise to have a professional agent on your side to represent your needs and your concerns throughout the entire process. They’ll save you time, money, hassle, and stress along the way. You’ll be glad you opted for a third-party, professional that’s punching from your corner to make the entire process a piece of cake!

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