Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 31, 2015

REALTOR ASSOCIATION president’s message

Building dreams into reality

Many calls to Realtors are from buyers who seek new construction. While some people wish to buy a builder’s spec home, others are looking to purchase a lot and build their dream home. Realtors and builders often collaborate to make these dreams a reality. After all, the last thing you want to do is fall in love with a lot, get it under contract and then learn you cannot build the home you want. Many factors come into play when building a home from the ground up, including neighborhood covenant and restrictions, price per square foot and septic restrictions. So whether do you start?

Talk to your Realtor. Your Realtor can work with you to find the right part of Greater Chattanooga in which you want to live. In making that decision, a Realtor will want to know what is important to you. Is it close to work? How far is your church? Is the area zoned for a particular school? These questions are important regardless of buying an existing home or investing in new construction.

Narrow down your location. A Realtor can assist you in narrowing down your choices to specific neighborhoods and lots in your desired part of town. The Greater Chattanooga Association’s Multiple Listing Service is where we start. Yet, the MLS does not have all of the land that is available for sale in Chattanooga. Thus, it’s good to work with a Realtor who can draw on their relationships with area builders.

Find a lot. Greater Chattanooga area builders typically own lots and land available for building new homes. While Realtors have an inventory of homes for sale, builders have an inventory of lots and land they hold until a perspective clients is ready to build. Once you find the lot, you’re ready for these next steps.

Pick out your floor plan. Your Realtor and builder can direct you to websites and books to guide you through floor plan options. A good starting point is to determine the number of bedrooms and bathroom you need and from there consider other “must have” features. Start with your needs – the wants come later. In settling on a floor plan, don’t sweat the same things like room size and the placement of walls and windows. Most Chattanooga builders will order house plans in CAD software so they can tweak the “small stuff” for you. For example, it is common to stretch the garage size or sit your plan on a basement that the original plan may not call for. These type of changes are a normal part of the new construction process.

Due diligence. Once you settle on a plan and find the land, work with your Realtor to do some due diligence to ensure you can build what you want on the selected location.

Make an offer and get under contract. This step is key for involving your Realtor – someone who knows about new construction and the area that you will be building in. Likely, your Realtor will strongly suggest you obtain a survey, if one doesn’t already exist. A survey will shed light on any of the sewer or septic concerns. Also, a survey can show whether there is a future development nearby that may cause you to lose some of your privacy or whether the land is planned for annexation. At this stage in the process, you typically have a few weeks to get all of the answers before committing to a particular lot. Occasionally during this part of the process, things will be uncovered that cause you to walk away and find a piece of land that works better for your desired end result.

Interview builders. Unless you’re buying a lot owned by a builder, work with your Realtor to interview builders. Often, your Realtor is already aware of the types of homes in which various builders specialize and will set up appointments for you. The builder will either want to meet at their office or at the land on which you wish build. In many cases, the builder will take a look at the land and/or your plans before the interview meeting. It is prudent to ask the selected builder to give their approval before purchasing the land – you don’t want miss anything that the builder may see as a challenge to the construction. And in some cases, the builder will ask to purchase the land. They make this request for insurance purposes – they want to build on their land, not yours.

Finalize the floor plan and sign a contract. It’s time to build your dream home. The builder would have been working on final pricing and you would have been making some of your selections if only to yourself. Once the Chattanooga home builder that you chose and you agree on the pricing and the plan then the 2 of you enter into a contract to build your home. There is typically a deposit hat is required by the builder at this time and it can range from ten to twenty percent, depending on the builder and the home that you want built.

Let the fun begin. It’s now time to pick out finishes and options. Most builders have a showroom where you can pick out finishes with a designer. These designers can help you with any questions that you may have about building in the Chattanooga area. They can also help with the custom drapes and comforters if you want to move into a fully designed home.

Go to the job site regularly. Or not. While some buyers want to be heavily involved in the process, this is a personal choice. Most builders in our area are good about keeping you informed. They do so either through personal communication or software such as Co-Construct, which installs as a phone App and gives daily updates on what is happening. With such an App, you can take pictures and upload them so your builder can see a light fixture or landscaping design that you may have seen around town. The average new construction home build in the Chattanooga area is 7-8 month. The smaller and simpler floor plans will not take as long and others may take longer.

Sit back and wait for moving day. Building your dream home is complicated. Rely on a Realtor – a professional, local market expert – to guide you through making your dream home a reality.

Collaboration. Assisting consumers is just one way in which Realtors and builders collaborate. We are able to do so b/c of the relationship between our Association and the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga. In fact, on August 18, we’re working together on our third annual Economic Update Luncheon. The luncheon will be at the Chattanoogan Hotel and feature guest speaker Dr. David Crowe, Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders. The public is welcome. Tickets may be purchased in advanced for $20 from either Association.

The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors is “The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga.” The Association is a regional organization with more than 1,500 members and is one of more than 1,400 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors services Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit www.gcar.net.