The Biggest Mistake People Make When Buying Brand-New Homes
Old homes get a bad rap for having lots of problems homeowners must contend with before moving in. But new homes can have their share of issues, too, which is why you shouldn’t waive a home inspection — even if you’re the first person to ever live in a new build.
“In the current real estate market, new builds are often done quickly, so the inspection will be important for making sure the builders didn’t cut any corners for the sake of time,” says Mallory Micetich, home care expert at Angi. Take time with the inspector to ensure everything in the new home works. Go ahead and flip light switches, run faucets, and flush toilets. “New doesn’t always mean perfect, especially if it was done in a hurry,” says Micetich.
It’s important to inspect your home, regardless of its age, according to Micetich. A recent Angi survey found that among those who moved during the pandemic, one in four waived the home inspection. While this might have been a savvy strategy for competing in a bidding war, over 40 percent said it was a bad move and wouldn’t recommend it.
Getting a home inspection for a new build is especially important, as it will determine whether the work is up to code. Micetich also recommends finding out which permits have been pulled for the work, so that you can avoid any issues before moving in.
On average, an inspection costs between $200 and $500, which is a drop in the bucket compared to home prices in some markets. Of course, if you’re strapped for cash, saving any amount of money at closing might seem like a good idea. But a home inspection can save you money in the long run — not to mention time and stress, too.
This same advice applies if you’re purchasing a condo or a co-op unit in a new building. “I can’t think of a bigger mistake than to refuse a walkthrough of a new condominium,” says Rachel Lustbader, a broker for Warburg Realty. “These units are built in bulk with little attention to any particular one.” She notes that after the walk-through of every new condo she’s sold, there’s been at least a two-page punch list—that’s a checklist of all the things that need to be done or remedied to finalize a construction job.
Christopher Totaro, an agent for Warburg Realty, agrees. “Getting an inspection of a new development is a means to have an unbiased expert act in the best interest of the buyer,” he says. “Most buyers don’t know what to look for or [how to recognize a] red flag instead of an acceptable imperfection.”
Kate Wollman-Mahan, another agent at Warburg Realty, says that if you have custom upgrades or elements in your new unit, you must be aware of the risks. “Custom elements that are untested, especially in a multi-family building, can have unexpected consequences,” Wollman-Mahan says. “If a building incorporates unique or custom design elements, try to dig a little deeper — understand the experience and budget of the construction and development team, make sure the custom elements have passed all performance mockups, and make sure thermal and acoustical analysis were performed.”
If all of the above sounds like a foreign language to you, that’s even more reason to get an inspection. Unless you’re in the real estate or home improvement business, you likely won’t know everything to look out for when buying new construction. And even if you are, you’ll want a second set of eyes to ensure your home is a safe place to live for years to come.
“A new build home inspection is also a great opportunity to learn what home maintenance you should be prepared for as soon as you move in,” says Micetich. “The majority of a new build will be under warranty when you get the keys, so be sure to understand your responsibilities to keep the home maintained, so the warranty will cover any unexpected issues that may come up.”