Should I Buy New, Build or buy a pre-owned home?

That is the question many people will encounter when deciding on their next home purchase. And it really comes down to a personal preference, and your individual needs and wants. Some people will only consider new construction, others will not consider new construction at all, and the majority of people are somewhere in between. Each has its advantages, and disadvantages.

Some prefer a new home that has never been lived in, and everything is brand new, and one that is already built or nearly finished. While everything may be new, some feel it may lack “character” and mature landscaping, and like the feeling of an “established” neighborhood. Others want to build from the ground up, a more complicated process, but it gives one the ability to get exactly what they want, although it does take time, patience, preparation and research. Some have fear of the process, and have heard about stories of the stress and anxiety that some have experienced in building a new home. We are here to tell you that when done right, and with the right builder it can be a good experience. And although no one can truthfully promise the experience will be “stress free”, we can help reduce that to a bare minimum and make sure that you are protected and represented in the best manner possible. The Tri-Cities area offers many different builders in many different price ranges for new construction. At Brian Shymatta & Associates we work with all the area’s best builders and can help you make the best choice for YOU, and we have the experience, insight and knowledge to help navigate you through the entire process safely and smoothly.

OK. I think I want to build…what’s the next step?

Many builders offer floor plans for homes in neighborhoods that they have purchased lots for. It is a matter of deciding on a floor plan, reserving a lot, pricing out and choosing the features, options, and color choices that you want, securing financing which in most cases is not much different than securing existing home financing, and preparing the purchase and sale agreement properly to ensure that the outcome is what you expect it to be. I highly reccomend that you take your time in the beginning to think where you are going to place your furniture, where you want light fixtures, electrical outlets, light switches, doors, etc. before we finalize the paperwork. Although it is possible to make some changes along the way, it may be costly to do it after the fact. In the majority of the cases, and advantage to building this way over a “custom” home is that you can usually walk through or make arrangements to walk through a similar home that is already built which gives you a very clear idea of what you can expect the end product to look like for the most part. If you already own a lot, some builders may be willing to take one of their floor plans they offer and that you like and build it on your lot.

Building a “Custom” home involves taking a pre-existing floor plan you may find online, or in a magazine, or some other source on your own and building it as is or modifying it. Or for the more ambitious, drawing one of your own and/or hiring an architect to help design one for you. Some may already own a lot, or if not we will help you find a lot that accommodates the dimensions and your plans.

Financing for a custom home is referred to as a New Construction Loan, and is also a bit more complicated in the way it works, credit requirements, the difference in down-payment required and the coordination with the builder. Not all banks offer new construction loans, and there are different loan packages available, some very good, some not so good. We can help review different programs with you to ensure the best program is chosen for your individual situation. Since financing is more complex with a new construction loan, we highly recommend that you get pre-approved for a loan before beginning the process. And make sure it is a “pre-approval” and not just a “pre-qualification”. A pre-approval is a commitment to lend under certain conditions, after reviewing credit, financials, etc. A “pre-qualification” simply means you may qualify based on the limited information you provide them, before reviewing a complete financial picture.


Purchasing a new home directly from a builder without representation from a knowledgeable and experienced real estate professional is very dangerous for buyers. Our Agents are experienced in helping clients purchase brand-new homes, and they can provide a lot of value by helping you avoid mistakes and save significant amounts of money. They offer buyers insights with comparables in the market, including what others have paid for homes in the same development. Our Buyer’s agents who are experienced in new-home construction will have information about the builder’s history. They will also be able to walk you through the details of the contract.

REALTORS® have a fiduciary duty to their clients. They must abide by the Code of Ethics and a strict code of conduct. Violating these codes can result in fines and suspension of license.

We take the mystery out of reading blueprints and in understanding site design and the materials and methods of construction.

Here are three common misconceptions about working with builders and ways our agents can help you:

  1. Builders don’t negotiate – FALSE. However, it is important to know when to negotiate, what points are negotiable, and how to do it effectively. As with many things in life, timing is key. Knowing when to pull the trigger on a new home and when to hold off can make or cost clients money. For example, it is common for builders to increase pricing between phase releases (even on homes from a previous phase that have not been purchased), so reserving a property the day before the next phase release and price increase can mean instant equity.
  2. Buyer’s agents can’t be involved throughout the process – FALSE. Although most builders will not allow real estate practitioners to be involved during certain inspections and walk-throughs, there are plenty of points for involvement that can protect the consumer. Construction is organized chaos. With so many moving parts happening at the same time, it is easy for details to be overlooked and forgotten. For example, agents can help buyers keep a list of all their upgrades and custom features (including written documentation of all verbal instructions between the buyer and builder). During periodic construction walk-throughs, and especially the final walk-through, the buyer should have these lists handy to ensure everything was incorporated per their specifications. It is not hard for a construction crew to overlook installing a few additional electrical outlets. If the client has the proper documentation, the builder will not have an issue correcting the situation.
  3. What you see is what you get – FALSE. There are always additional costs. Total acquisition cost is important to understand. Buyer’s agents can identify and thoroughly outline all the costs involved for their buyers to help them avoid surprises.

Do you plan to purchase a new home?

It’s an exciting and appealing option. But buying a newly constructed home typically entails considerably more steps and decisions than most existing-home transactions. It’s hard enough to keep up with all the details, much less know how to make the best decisions. Your new home buying experience will be more successful and enjoyable if someone is looking out for your interests.

Builders and their representatives may be searching for buyers to purchase their product, but only a buyer’s representative will be 100 percent loyal to you, providing advice and guidance on:

Builders’ reputations – A qualified buyer’s rep will be familiar with builders’ reputations and references and should be able to help you make a good choice.

Inventory – Builders aren’t obligated to show you every new home they have for sale, much less other builders’ homes. In contrast, a buyer’s rep helps you see the full range of new and existing homes on the market.

Contract review – A buyer’s rep can alert you when a builder’s deal seems one-sided and advise when legal counsel is needed.

Disclosures – Buyer’s reps are familiar with desired property disclosures (environmental hazards, Megan’s law, pests, pollution, etc.) and can help you obtain these from a builder.

Upgrades – Gain input from a buyer’s rep on which upgrades are most likely to improve your home’s resale value, as well as guidance on making sure your home’s price doesn’t exceed its appraised value.

Inspections – New homes are inspected for compliance with municipal building codes at several stages in the construction process. However, your buyer’s rep can help arrange your own independent inspections, providing another level of assurance that any problems will be spotted and resolved.

Financing – Buyer’s reps are familiar with a wide range of financing options. They can advise you on the merits of a builder’s options (if financing is offered) or suggest other lending sources.

Closing considerations – A buyer’s rep can alert you to issues that may not be addressed, including title insurance and protection against mechanics’ liens.

Sale of existing home – If your purchase also entails selling a current home, you’ll appreciate having someone representing your interests and coordinating details on both sides of your transaction.

These are just a few ways buyer’s representatives
can improve your experience when purchasing a new home.