Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Building, and affording, a new home

For years, the process to build a new home was simple: hire a builder, apply for a loan and move in. Period.

It's not that easy any longer. Lending institutions have put a clamp on money that used to flow out the door. Appraisals are becoming more of an exact science than an afterthought. Getting the "necessary" value out of a home today to obtain financing has proven more difficult than many people ever remember.

When it comes time to build your home, don't let the "market" scare you away; there are still a number of viable options for you to obtain financing. Most people hire an experienced home builder or general contractor when deciding to build their dream home. There are certain things that you must keep in mind when building a home, some of which are outlined below.

Finding Land / Lot

Finding the right spot to build on can be a daunting task. Many builders have lots available that they will sell you, you can look for undeveloped lots that have flooded the market recently or you can go acquire land that suits your needs. Whatever the case, make sure you consult with your builder and/or architect to make sure that the home you want will fit on the land you're looking at. There is no worse feeling that things not "fitting" together like you'd hope. Finally, consider the purchase price of the land into the final price of your project. There are costs associated with purchasing the land that may play a part in the viability of the project.

Obtaining a Mortgage

Just because you choose to build a home, instead of buying one, doesn't mean you have to seek alternative methods to fund such a purchase. A mortgage is the most traditional method of financing a personal asset, such as a home. Many banks, credit unions, mortgage companies and other lending institutions are available to speak with. Shopping for the package that suits you best will help you discover the lowest rates and payment terms you need.

Making a Down Payment

Just a reminder to keep in mind: many financial institutions will require you to make a down payment on your loan, as a sign of your "devotion" to the project.

Providing your Financial History

Your lender is going to want to know everything about you: your work history, your credit scores, your current debt, your current assets, your payment history, employment records...everything. Be prepared to shell this information out and make it readily available to them.

Paying Property Taxes

Taxes aren't cheap. Finding a lot you love and building the home of your dreams sounds like a great idea, until you get a tax bill that you weren't expecting. Be sure to do researching into what your bill will run each year so you can adequately prepare yourself.

Paying Cash

Very few people can do it, but keep in mind that paying cash for a home will save you a large sum in the long run. As an example, making interest payments on a 5% mortgage for 30 years adds up quickly.

At the end of the day, building a home allows you to get all of the features you desire. Don't rule it out. Many builders are looking for business these days and are willing to make a deal with you. Don't discount your ability to build, finance and afford a new home built just for you.

Shea Whitmire is the President of Whitmire Homes, a Georgia custom home builder. The Whitmire family has been building luxury homes for more than 30 years and has a proven track record of helping people find a way to make their dream home a reality. 

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