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Thread: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

  1. #16
    Smells Like Teen Spirit jmcclain19's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    The FHA route is how my wife and I bought our current house. One of the best deals going.

    Some advice - get a home inspector. That's the best piece of mind I got before my 10 day window was closed. In AZ, once you put in a bid and its accepted, both parties have 10 days to walk away without consequence. It was about $300 and a good inspector will tell you everything that is wrong. Especially with a new house.

    We bought a foreclosure house - a flipper from CA bought it - sat on it for 3 years then lost it. So it was never lived in. The builder did not connect the heating unit or the ducting work for the entire upstairs. There was a 3 foot hole in the garage where they put in the water heater but never patched around the tubing. They also forgot to caulk a good chunk of the outside vents and covered up some vent holes. All of that was found by my inspector.

    Beyond that, if you do get a new build have someone you trust walk thru the house on your final walk thru with you to add an extra set of eyes. My friend had his electric water heater not installed just placed in its location. His dad caught it and he didn't - just an extra set of eyes. Not the end of the world, but builders can have a really relaxed schedule in deciding to come around to fix your issues. Living in your new house without hot water isn't fun for anyone.

    Still to your guns and make sure the builder sticks to the contract.
    My neighbor on one side had the builder forget to put in a driveway but was still strong armed by the builder to try to sign the final paperwork with the promise that "it was going to be put in.

    I know another who had to visit the build site every couple of days and had to force them to put doorways, attic locations and even showers in the pre-agreed locations on the floor plans. The attic part was hilarious. The plans called for it to be in a hallway. But the contractors kept trying to put it in a kids bedroom. After fruitless discussion, a few of us went with him with a ladder, and removed the attic framing, and put it in it's proper location the day before the drywall went up.

    Have fun - use your head, and definitely do as has been recommended in this thread, don't spend a dime more than you can afford. Things happen, people lose their jobs or family emergencies come up. You don't want to lose your home.

    And don't use it as a piggy bank. That's your home.

    The end.
    Last edited by jmcclain19; 10-27-2010 at 05:42 AM.

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  3. #17
    Member 15fan's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    No way I'd build. Ever.

    Buy in an established neighborhood. Look at the tax records before you buy. When we moved from condo to house, we had it down to two different houses that would have been equally fine. Then we looked at the tax records. One house was double the taxes, and in a worse elementary school district (which was a priority for us given our 6 month old child at the time). Decision made.

    Finally, understand that maintaining a home requires a crapload of time & money. If something breaks, you fix it. You have to maintain the grounds. You will spend more time and money than you ever imagined at Lowe's / Home Depot / Ace, etc.

  4. #18
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Great advice so far. It's all going to go in my notes for the future of this process.

    And...this is fun to get persective from other people! Thanks.
    "Rounding Third and Heading for Home"

  5. #19
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Don't over-improve unless you plan to be there for a long, long time. It's flushing money down the toilet if build a wine room for a beer league community.

    If you build, plan on having an extra 10-15% cash for little emergencies.

    Closing costs are negotiable. Try to get all of them paid by someone else.

    That said, your downpayment should be as big as you can make it. It's better to pay $5000 now than pay $10000 later.

    Find a neighborhood you like. Look for schools (if you have kids and plan on being there for that long), parks, pools, restaurants, and entertainment within easy walking distance. That'll save you money in the long run.
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  6. #20
    Just The Big Picture macro's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Quote Originally Posted by 15fan View Post
    Finally, understand that maintaining a home requires a crapload of time & money. If something breaks, you fix it. You have to maintain the grounds. You will spend more time and money than you ever imagined at Lowe's / Home Depot / Ace, etc.
    Very true.

    The employees at the local Lowe's store swear that I live in a room in the back of the store. Our house turned 15 years old last year and that, combined with watching too much House Hunters on HGTV, has led me to paint the walls and change out all the plugs and switches in every room, among many other improvements and efforts to prevent the place from looking dated, such as new lighting, etc.

    Help stamp out, eliminate, and do away with redundancy.

  7. #21
    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    It's funny that you brought up HGTV, because I've often been amazed at how couples on the show House Hunters are ready to throw out perfectly good appliances and rip up flooring because they're not brand new and styled in the absolute latest trend, and I'm talking about stuff that's not all that old or dated.
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  8. #22
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Quote Originally Posted by RichRed View Post
    "I NEED to have stainless steel appliances and granite countertops!"


    What I've told my wife is that if we keep our 90's decorated home long enough, it will come back into style. About a month ago, she said she's finally coming around to liking stainless steel appliances. I said "right in time for them to go out of style, let's stay with our almond colored appliances and formica counters and oak cabinets, they are next to come back".

    Having said that, I finally swapped out the last existing fixture in our 1990-built house. The dining room bright-brass-and-clear-bulb chandelier went for a dark-bronze-opaque-glass one.

    I'm on a first name basis with a bunch of guys at Lowe's. Sometimes I go over there with no purpose in mind and just walk around. Which is dangerous.

    Pay attention to the open sky

  9. #23
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    As I mentioned, I plan on getting a second job (part time) for the next several months in order to aid my savings for the down payment. Maybe Lowes is the place I should apply! Haha!
    "Rounding Third and Heading for Home"

  10. #24
    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker View Post


    What I've told my wife is that if we keep our 90's decorated home long enough, it will come back into style. About a month ago, she said she's finally coming around to liking stainless steel appliances. I said "right in time for them to go out of style, let's stay with our almond colored appliances and formica counters and oak cabinets, they are next to come back".

    Having said that, I finally swapped out the last existing fixture in our 1990-built house. The dining room bright-brass-and-clear-bulb chandelier went for a dark-bronze-opaque-glass one.

    I'm on a first name basis with a bunch of guys at Lowe's. Sometimes I go over there with no purpose in mind and just walk around. Which is dangerous.
    We've got beautiful pine countertops and plain ol' white appliances, which is just fine for a Cape Cod beachy cottage built in the '50s, which our house is.

    But I'm thinking of going for granite appliances and stainless steel countertops. Take that, HGTV!

    We're actually in the process of selling our house, which is a uniquely grueling experience. It's been like a several month-long root canal.
    "I can make all the stadiums rock."
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  11. #25
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grounds_Crew View Post
    As I mentioned, I plan on getting a second job (part time) for the next several months in order to aid my savings for the down payment. Maybe Lowes is the place I should apply! Haha!
    The savings in discount alone would be worth it, frankly, as would perhaps finding friends who might help you install all the crap you bought. For free (or at least off the clock for beer and pizza).
    "You can learn little from victory. You can learn everything from defeat."
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  12. #26
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    The savings in discount alone would be worth it, frankly, as would perhaps finding friends who might help you install all the crap you bought. For free (or at least off the clock for beer and pizza).
    That's what I'm thinking! I think I'll apply when I get home from work today!

    There is a Lowe's very conveniently located between my day job and home!
    "Rounding Third and Heading for Home"

  13. #27
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Are you planning to marry your girlfriend? The reason I ask, since she is saving money as well for it, is my father is a realtor, and I've heard more than 1 horror story about a couple that bought a house together while engaged, then called off the wedding and the financial complications that come along with it. Something to think about, sounds like you've been together awhile, so hopefully that's not an issue, but if you're going to tie the knot, it may be smart to do so prior to finalizing on a house.

    What's your age group? do you have/plan to have kids in the next 5 years? 10 years? never? Those answers could change a bunch of things to look for. You're profile says that you're 30. If true, this likely won't be your last house so don't plan to purchase your dream home. Unless having multiple kids is an immediate possibility, I'd recommend buying less house than you can. Learn the small things that come with owning a house, maintaining a lawn/gardens, painting, updated, etc...Perhaps if you buy less, rather than doing a 30 year FHA loan, you can do a 15 year loan, or do the 30 year loan but pay each month like you're going to pay it off in 15 years and build up equity while paying down 20% vs the 3.5%

    For instance, you could get a $100k townhouse style condo in a decent area, with decent schools and only have $20k to pay down to get to 20%. The condo won't rise in value as quickly as a good home in a good neighborhood, but it may fit your size needs, allow you to do small projects around the house while the exterior of your house would be insured/covered by a condo association (it ain't free though and sometimes can be costly, but it means you don't have to worry about the roof, mowing a lawn, painting the exterior, trimming trees, pool maintance, etc...) But if you're there 7 years before having a 2nd kid (hence needing more space) and pay 20% down right away, you'll have enough equity to afford that "dream" 300k home, vs if you only pay the 3.5% down and go with a 30 year loan, you may only have about 20k in equity

    Someone can look up the tables to verify how accurate my guesses there are, but you get the idea (I hope)

    I'd also recommend going to several open houses over the next couple of years. Start to get an idea of what you like, and what you don't like in a house. What is a must, and what can be comprimised. When I started out, I looked at like 17 places before I finally found where I live now. My biggest problem was that I had no clue what I wanted in a house, and what I could get for what I could afford, so each trip was a learning experience. You'll save yourself a lot of time if you have a good idea going in and can tell a realtor what you have in mind so that you're not wasting your time going thru a house you'd have no interest in. Now that I'm in my place, and pay better attention to what I've seen elsewhere, I have a good idea of what I want in my next home.

    another thing, learn what home improvement tasks are easy, which ones you can do, and which ones you can't do easily or perhaps don't have the time for. For instance, peeling wall paper is a pain in the butt. I never knew that until I tore my wall paper off in my guest bathroom so I could paint it. All things being equal, I'd take a house w/ painted walls over a house with wall paper everywhere. I can paint a couple of rooms in a weekend, removing wall paper is a pain and I know I'd procrastinate it. Electric I'm scared of. I turned off the power to my entire house when I replaced the recepticles in said bathroom. Similarly I wouldn't want to buy a house where I noticed a lot of fixtures that needed to be changed out, or electrical work.

    anyhoo, I hope some of those things help.

  14. #28
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Quote Originally Posted by medford View Post
    Are you planning to marry your girlfriend? The reason I ask, since she is saving money as well for it, is my father is a realtor, and I've heard more than 1 horror story about a couple that bought a house together while engaged, then called off the wedding and the financial complications that come along with it. Something to think about, sounds like you've been together awhile, so hopefully that's not an issue, but if you're going to tie the knot, it may be smart to do so prior to finalizing on a house.

    What's your age group? do you have/plan to have kids in the next 5 years? 10 years? never? Those answers could change a bunch of things to look for. You're profile says that you're 30. If true, this likely won't be your last house so don't plan to purchase your dream home. Unless having multiple kids is an immediate possibility, I'd recommend buying less house than you can. Learn the small things that come with owning a house, maintaining a lawn/gardens, painting, updated, etc...Perhaps if you buy less, rather than doing a 30 year FHA loan, you can do a 15 year loan, or do the 30 year loan but pay each month like you're going to pay it off in 15 years and build up equity while paying down 20% vs the 3.5%

    For instance, you could get a $100k townhouse style condo in a decent area, with decent schools and only have $20k to pay down to get to 20%. The condo won't rise in value as quickly as a good home in a good neighborhood, but it may fit your size needs, allow you to do small projects around the house while the exterior of your house would be insured/covered by a condo association (it ain't free though and sometimes can be costly, but it means you don't have to worry about the roof, mowing a lawn, painting the exterior, trimming trees, pool maintance, etc...) But if you're there 7 years before having a 2nd kid (hence needing more space) and pay 20% down right away, you'll have enough equity to afford that "dream" 300k home, vs if you only pay the 3.5% down and go with a 30 year loan, you may only have about 20k in equity

    Someone can look up the tables to verify how accurate my guesses there are, but you get the idea (I hope)

    I'd also recommend going to several open houses over the next couple of years. Start to get an idea of what you like, and what you don't like in a house. What is a must, and what can be comprimised. When I started out, I looked at like 17 places before I finally found where I live now. My biggest problem was that I had no clue what I wanted in a house, and what I could get for what I could afford, so each trip was a learning experience. You'll save yourself a lot of time if you have a good idea going in and can tell a realtor what you have in mind so that you're not wasting your time going thru a house you'd have no interest in. Now that I'm in my place, and pay better attention to what I've seen elsewhere, I have a good idea of what I want in my next home.

    another thing, learn what home improvement tasks are easy, which ones you can do, and which ones you can't do easily or perhaps don't have the time for. For instance, peeling wall paper is a pain in the butt. I never knew that until I tore my wall paper off in my guest bathroom so I could paint it. All things being equal, I'd take a house w/ painted walls over a house with wall paper everywhere. I can paint a couple of rooms in a weekend, removing wall paper is a pain and I know I'd procrastinate it. Electric I'm scared of. I turned off the power to my entire house when I replaced the recepticles in said bathroom. Similarly I wouldn't want to buy a house where I noticed a lot of fixtures that needed to be changed out, or electrical work.

    anyhoo, I hope some of those things help.


    Great advice. Unfortunately, avoiding PMI by putting down 20% isn't really an option. I could save for two years and HOPEFULLY come up with 20k (and that's only for a $20k home). But, in the meantime, I'd be wasting money on renting. My rent for a 2BR apartment is $830/month. In one year, that is $9960 spent on something that I gain no equity in. It's like throwing money away.

    So, I'd rather put down between 5-10% and get in a home in the next 1-1.5 years and begin gaining equity.
    "Rounding Third and Heading for Home"

  15. #29
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grounds_Crew View Post
    As I mentioned, I plan on getting a second job (part time) for the next several months in order to aid my savings for the down payment. Maybe Lowes is the place I should apply! Haha!
    NACA does not require a down payment. The costs are escrow, appraisal, inspection fees, and title insurance. No closing costs. 100% financing. 30 year fixed-rate mortgage with an optional buy-down.

    https://www.naca.com/index_main.jsp
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  16. #30
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    Re: Anyone here had a home built before? (First Time Home Buyer Questions)

    Quote Originally Posted by Grounds_Crew View Post
    Great advice. Unfortunately, avoiding PMI by putting down 20% isn't really an option. I could save for two years and HOPEFULLY come up with 20k (and that's only for a $20k home). But, in the meantime, I'd be wasting money on renting. My rent for a 2BR apartment is $830/month. In one year, that is $9960 spent on something that I gain no equity in. It's like throwing money away.

    So, I'd rather put down between 5-10% and get in a home in the next 1-1.5 years and begin gaining equity.
    Fair point. I guess the main point is that if you buy something smaller than you can afford, and you buget well, if you pay off more of the principal each month than is due, then perhaps in another 7-10 years you could afford that "dream" home with enough space for kids or whatever that you need then, that you may not need now.

    However, on the other hand, if you're planning on having kids pretty soon, or you already do, you may need that room and are looking for the place you can call home for the next 15-20, 30 years.

    From my own experience, I bought more than I should have for my 1st place. It suits my need now that I have a kid, but its going to be too small when we have our 2nd and if I had bought a little smaller the first time around, had less of a mortgage and would have paid more off each month than required on a 30 year loan (or just taken the 15 year loan), I'd be better suiated to move into the house that I want now that I'm more established in life.


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