3 Tips Before Shopping For New Homes in Orange County

Amanda Fallon
Amanda Fallon
Published on March 12, 2018

The home-buying process is one that is full of decisions.  Do you want a house or a condo?  Should you consider new homes in Orange County, or an existing home?

If you settle on new homes in Orange County, a whole new set of decisions enters the picture.

Before you hop in the car to visit new home communities, however, there  are a few things you should do to protect yourself during the purchase process.

Lay the foundation properly, and you’ll make it to closing with nary a hitch.

1. Get Clear on your Finances

Walking into a new-home purchase without knowing how much you can afford to spend on new homes in Orange County puts you at the mercy of the builder and/or his lender.

Since buying this home may be the biggest financial decision of your life, you owe it to yourself to go into the process with as much knowledge as possible.

See a lender before viewing even one home.  Find out how much you can spend and then stick to that price range when shopping for new homes in Orange County.

Your real estate agent should have a preferred lender that they have worked with and can recommend.

Find more information on how to shop for a mortgage from the Federal Trade Commission.

2. Choose a Community

New home communities offer various amenities.  Many are managed by a homeowners association, which may take on some of the outdoor maintenance chores, such as front lawn landscaping in some cases.

But, they also come with an added monthly fee, so consider the fee’s impact on your budget.

Then, make a list of features you desire in a new community.  Some of the criteria you may choose include:

  • Proximity to schools.
  • Outdoor recreational opportunities
  • An area with lots of children or, on the other hand, few kids.
  • Your commute time to work.

Once you know your budget, and what you’re looking for in a neighborhood, it’s easier to narrow down where to shop.

3. Research the Builder

Disclaimer:  Before visiting any new homes in Orange County, make sure you have your real estate agent secured and with you.  Nearly all new home builders will not allow you representation if you walk in without your agent on your first visit.  This can be detrimental to negotiations and your wallet.  Visit Buying New Construction in Orange County for more information.

You also want to research the builder.  There are a number of ways to do this, but starting with the Better Business Bureau is a good first step. Check for complaints against the builder and the company.

Ask your agent what he or she knows about the builder and the community.  Ask about property taxes also.  Often, new communities will have mello-roos assessments that are wrapped up into the annual taxes.

Find out what other communities of new homes in Orange County the builder has developed and visit one or two of them, always with your real estate agent.

Stop and chat with any residents you come across to find out if there are any common problems with the home.  You can also find Facebook pages or groups related to the community.

When visiting new homes in Orange County without your own real estate agent, you’ll be greeted by a real estate agent who represents the builder.  At that point, it’s too late.  The builder will not allow you your own representation.  An uneducated buyer might assume the whole process will be streamlined by using this agent for your purchase, but that is just not true.

Not a wise decision, and here’s why: that agent will always work in the best interest of the builder.

Just as you wouldn’t dream of hiring your soon-to-be former spouse’s attorney in divorce proceedings, so should you never use the builder’s agent in a new-home purchase.

Buyer’s representation costs you nothing – the seller (the builder in the case of new homes) pays all real estate fees. So there is really no reason not to have your own agent representation for such an important investment.

Your agent will ask the builder for a walk-through of the new-home buying process—find out the schedule, the number of inspections that will be performed and get a features sheet list.

For more information on buying new homes in Orange County, visit Tips For Touring OC Model Homes

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