Choosing the Perfect Homesite
Now that you've decided the part of town in which you'd like to live along with other critical criteria such as schools, travel corridors, proximity to your job, hobbies, friends or family, you'll start narrowing your search down to the communities that are available that meet your needs. The fun begins when you get in the car and start driving around these communities to see what they look like in person! Generally, you'll drive through a community at least once prior to walking into a model. These "drive thrus" are important to get the look and feel of a community while you determine if it's the right fit. Try driving through on both a weekend and during the week, as the personality of the community may be different during different times. Look for things like home site size, community cleanliness, debris, neighbor activities and parking. Characteristics such as front, rear or side entry entrance garages make a huge difference in community appearance. Do people maintain their yards, park in the street, clean up trash or does the community look like it could use a good scrub down? How far apart are the houses and how close to the street are they? Are the streets wide enough to accommodate traffic, but narrow enough to discourage speeding? How is the noise from adjoining streets? All these things are critical evaluations you'll make as you drive through each community. Remember, if it bothers you a little at this point, it will bother you a lot the longer you live in the home.
One thing that is clearly different between buying or building a new home and purchasing a pre-owned home is that the cost or price of the home site is included in your used home purchase and it may not be included in the "list price" of a new home. While the new home sales counselor is talking about the available home sites in the community, you'll hear the terms "home site premium", or "lot premium". These terms mean building your home on one of these sites will cost more than if you didn't select a "premium" home site.
The wonderful thing about home sites is that they're all unique. Every single one has its own view, elevation, slope and character. Take in all these considerations as you pass each one. It is here where you'll want to separate your home site "wants" from your "needs". An oversize lot is nice, but it comes with more landscaping costs, more yard work and maintenance time and upkeep and probably an increased cost from the builder. Corner lots are usually bigger, but there is additional traffic associated with them. Water view or waterfront home sites are limited in supply and builders will want to get a premium for them. Carefully examine all these elements as you review your choices. The time will come soon enough where you'll be asked to weigh the cost and benefits of a premium home site.
As you continue to move through the home buying process, you'll eventually select a new home "plan". Once you've selected your plan, your new home sales counselor will show you the home sites for which your plan is appropriate. Big homes don't fit on small lots and very often a builder is reluctant (or even forbidding by community standards) to put a smaller floor plan on a large lot. By now, the sales counselor should know what you want in both a new home and a home site, and they'll present you with a few options. If you have a favorite lot, and it's not in the selection they present you with, inquire if that home site is still available or appropriate for this plan. Review all the recommended selections and then it's time to get in the car and walk each home site.
As you approach each home site, you should have a copy of the floor plan in your hands. You'll want the builder to mark off the corners of the foundation on the site and show you exactly how your home will sit on this particular piece of property. From there, you can walk to your "kitchen" and survey the view you'll see each morning. You'll be able to see how you back yard would lay out in reference to the rest of the home and you can evaluate the view out your bedroom window. If you're planning on putting in a pool or outdoor kitchen, make sure these are marked too so you can make a fully informed decision about this home site. This is an exciting time, and many builders forgo this step and you'll never be able to fully evaluate this home site without it. Extra time at this step will always pay off down the line.