Who doesn’t want to buy a brand new home? They’re clean, up-to-date and, many times, even fully customized to your own unique needs and preferences.

But buying new construction isn’t as easy as picking a floor plan and then moving in once it’s finished.

As with any real estate transaction, the process is pretty involved — and you still have lots of money on the line. If you want to make sure your purchase goes smoothly, you get the property of your dreams, and your money is being put to good use, it’s important to study up and prepare yourself before contacting a prospective builder.

Are you thinking of buying new construction? Let these tips guide the way

1. Always negotiate.

You don’t have to accept the sticker price on a new build — no matter how nice or customized it may be. Just like any seller, builders can only charge what a buyer is willing to pay. If their community is full of spec homes and the new builds just aren’t moving, you can bet they’ll accept an offer for $5,000 or even $10,000 less. In the event they’re not willing to drop their sale price, they might be able to throw in other incentives instead — things like extra upgrades, closing costs, and more.

If, for some reason, you’re not comfortable negotiating with the builder yourself, call in an experienced real estate agent to do it for you. Just make sure the agent isn’t employed by or affiliated with the builder (the ones stationed at model homes usually are!)

2. Make sure all the details are spelled out.

When you buy new construction, you should always get every detail in writing — including timelines, upgrades, materials, pricing, and more. There should also be a clear-cut process for how the construction will occur, when you’ll be allowed to bring in an inspector, and what happens if expectations aren’t met. Make sure all of these details are in place before you sign any sort of contract. If the contract isn’t as detailed as you’d like — or you just need help understanding it — talk to your agent or a licensed real estate attorney.

3. Choose your builder wisely.

Not all home builders are created equal, so do your research before choosing who will construct your property. Check out reviews, talk to existing and previous homeowners, and see how the builder’s homes hold up (in condition and in value) before buying in. You can also talk to your agent about good builders in your area, or use Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, and other websites to find past customer complaints. Make sure to factor any builder warranties into your decision (generally, the longer and more systems you have covered, the better!)

4. Use a phase home inspector.

Enlisting a phase inspector can help give you peace of mind that your home is being built properly and per local building codes every step of the way. They’ll check out the home three separate times — once when the foundation is poured, next when the framing is up, and finally, when the home is complete. Keep in mind that not all home inspectors offer these services, so be sure to ask specifically about a “phase” or “construction” inspection before moving forward.

5. Don’t automatically use the builder’s lender.

Most home builders have partner mortgage lenders, title companies, and other vendors they work with. The may even offer “discounts” for using those companies. Take these recommendations and promises with a grain of salt, though. In most cases, you’re getting charged more elsewhere (probably on your rate or in higher closing costs). It’s always important to shop around for your loan, as well as to thoroughly vet any vendor you’re going to use. Do your due diligence.

6. Know the neighborhood.

If the new home you’re buying is in a brand new community, make sure you study up first. How long will construction be going on? Are other developments planned for the area? Will new roads, schools, and transport options be moving in? What about other builders? Knowing these details can help you gauge your home’s eventual resale value, as well as whether it will fit in with your family’s long-term goals.

7. Be careful with your upgrades

It can be tempting to make upgrades and customizations left and right — especially when you have the option to — but those extras can add up fast. Try to focus only on upgrades that you really need or ones that will increase your home’s value. Upgrading from laminate to marble countertops? That’s a great move. Adding an extra skylight? That’s probably not worth the cash in the long run.

Get the Guidance You Need

Whether you’re buying a new home or a previously owned one, we at Embrace Home Loans are here to help you make the best financial decision for your household. Reach out to your local loan officer today for personalized guidance and advice.