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5 Tips to Buy New Construction Homes In San Diego

New Homes San Diego

If you’ve checked out the real estate market but can’t find an existing home that meets your needs, then you might be better off purchasing a newly built home. But, you may be over your head with unexpected costs and bad negotiation if you don't know what you are looking for.

5 Steps for Buying a New Construction Home

Bring your realtor

Keep in mind that the on-site agent you meet at a new-construction office works for the builder. So, as the homebuyer, it's a smart idea to bring in your own agent, as well, to help you negotiate and stay protected in the transaction. Your realtor can help you negotiate extra savings when making an offer as well as help you understand exactly what comes with the home and what will cost extra. Oftentimes the builders agent skips over the details.

Get on the list as soon as you can

Home builders use a list to prioritize the sale of new homes. The builder only has so many lots and floorplans for home buyers. The sooner you get on the list the more likely you will be in line to buy a home. If you decide you do not want to move forward you simply let the builder know when they contact you. In oder to get on the list you will need to get pre-approved with the builder's lender. Oftentimes the builder's lender will offer incentives like closing cost credits to use them.

I highly suggest you also get pre-approved with your own lender to compare rates and get a better deal. This gives you choices when it comes to getting the best mortgage rates and credits. Any lender can match the credits of the builder's lender. Don't get locked into a lending situation that you may not be happy with.

Know Your Timeline

New homes take time to build.  Expect any where from 3-9 months before you are able to move in.  If you need to sell first, work with your realtor on your options. Some builders will not take contingent offers so you may need to find in between housing. Sometimes home builders offer quick move-ins for homes that are not selling as fast as they like. This can be an extra savings for you.


Everyone loves walking into a model home. But don't be fooled, your new home does not come like this. It is important to understand what the base model of a home comes with and what is an upgrade, (almost everything). Each builder is different and offers different packages that come with the home. Things like kitchen counters and flooring are usually worth upgrading through the builder, where you may save more money by painting your home after you move in. Your realtor should be able to help you break this down.

Additionally many new homes in California are required to add solar panels and solar to the home. However, this is a cost that is passed onto the buyer and you may not have a choice about this. Ask what the terms are on the solar being added by the builder.

Another cost is the outdoor space. Some builders will provide front landscaping, however back yard landscaping is always your responsiblity. Make sure you have a rough idea of what the landscaping will cost you before you purchase a new home.

Mello Roos

Mello-Roos is a special tax assessed on property owners in California to finance infrastructure projects, services, and facilities within a specific district. The tax is named after the sponsors of the law, California State Senator Henry Mello and State Assemblyman Mike Roos. The law was implemented in 1982 as a way for local governments to get around the cap on property tax increases that had been put in place in 1978. Most new homes have this extra cost which can increase your yearly property taxes up to 2%

Difference Between New Home and Pre Owned Home Purchase

When you purchase a pre owned home you have the right to receive your earnest money deposit back within your agreed timelines. When purchasing a new home, the builder has much shorten timelines to return the money, or your money may not even be refundable. Make sure you understand the terms before you buy.

Should I Buy a New Construction Home?

There are important things to consider to determine if buying a new construction home is right for you.

Pros of Buying New Construction

  • You can get your dream home. Whether you’re heavily involved in a custom build or love a new home built in a tract development in an attractive area, you’re more likely to get exactly what you want in a new home. In a previously-owned home, you might need to embark on a major renovation to get a home just the way you want it.

  • Includes the newest technology. A newly built home is more likely to be fully wired for smart technology and include all of the most up-to-date energy efficiency features than an older home.

  • Lower maintenance and fewer surprises. Right after you move into a previously-owned home, you’re hoping the appliances won’t fail and the roof won’t need replacing for a few years. You shouldn’t have to worry about these issues for a while in a newly built home, and a warranty should cover any unexpected problems.

Cons of Buying New Construction

  • It can be expensive. You might not like the idea of paying more for a new home than a similarly-sized older home, but you’ll need to decide if the tradeoff of new vs. previously-owned works for you. When you add features—such as upgrades in flooring, carpet and counters—the cost can climb, and there isn’t much room for negotiation.

  • Your home might not go up in value. This is the case with any home you buy. But your ability to provide a meaningful upgrade that will affect the home value to a new home is limited in the first several years, while you could provide immediate valuable upgrades to a lower-priced older home that boosts the sale price. You’ll need to hope the market prices in your neighborhood and community stay strong.

  • Your budget might get blown out. This is most likely with custom-built homes, especially if the cost for raw materials, labor and other home building products rises beyond your expected cost and/or you encounter issues with zoning, inspections or weather.

Buying a new home is an opportunity to get a fresh start in what could be your dream home. The key is preparing for the unexpected twists and turns that make this different than buying a previously-owned home.

Let's discuss how I can help you buy a new home in San Diego!

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