Saturday, January 1, 2011

Buying Unfinished Homes

As you search for your new home, you probably have visited a number of planned communities where only models are available for viewing. As you drive around quays and closes to see rows of concrete pads stabbed through with PVC piping, you're only granted an imaginary view of what your new home could look like. Prepared models may give you an idea of space and placement, but at the end of the day you may believe buying an unfinished home is like getting a pig in a poke. Does it present an opportunity or a risk?

Let's take a look at some of the advantages and challenges in purchasing an unfinished home, regardless of the stage of construction.


1) Depending on how swift lot sales are going in the community, you may be able to negotiate a good price on your new home. One reason why you might see a planned community with empty spaces is because the land and the house has not yet sold and the money is needed to continue with construction. If the economy is slow, you may be able to get a good deal.

2) If the house is in an early stage of being built, you may have the opportunity to control design. In planned communities, homes often come with similar fixtures and colors because they can be purchased in bulk. Get in on a home early, and you may get your pick on some nice counter tops and wallpaper.

3) If you have an idea of your expected move-in date, you'll have plenty of time to prepare and sell your old home. You won't feel rushed into moving.


1) Time can work against you too with an unfinished home. Unexpected delays, problems with finances, and other issues may prevent your home from being finished on time. If you sell your house in the interim, you could be stuck looking for temporary digs until your home is built.

2) While waiting for your home, your personal and financial situation could change. Someone could lose a job, you could become divorced, or get transferred to another city. These situations can arise when buying a functional home, too, but with an unfinished place there could be more questions to answer.

3) If other lots around you don't sell for a while, you could be stuck having concrete pads as neighbors. While it may seem peaceful, it may not exactly help your home value.

Think carefully about whether or not you want to invest in a home that is not yet finished. If you trust the builder and realty company, you may have an advantage overall.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Norfolk real estate and Virginia Beach homes.

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