After the real estate market hit a steady decline in mid 2006, home builders turned to incentives as a way to attract home buyers to their communities and to help differentiate themselves from the competition. When you start looking for a new home be sure to compare builder incentives as much as the communities themselves.
To help you choose, I have created a list of the top 7 new home buying incentives you should look out for:
Military or Civil Service Incentive - As a thank you to the individuals who serve in the military or are veterans of the military in addition to firefighters, police officers, EMTs and hospital staff, national home builder K. Hovnanian is offering $5,000 off the asking price of their homes, for a limited time, to people in these fields. Other large builders also offer similar incentives to teachers and civil service positions.
Lower Asking Price on "Spec Homes" - Depending on your moving situation, this is the golden egg of builder incentives. Most new home builders will construct a set number of homes in their community as "spec" homes or homes built on speculation that people will purchase the homes and move in quickly.
Once these homes are finished the builder won't want to sit on a large inventory of homes so they will offer spec homes with predetermined upgrades included at a lower asking price than if you were to build the home from scratch and add those upgrades.
Incentives Tied to Builder's Mortgage Company - Builders and on-site sales representatives enjoy working with their established banking relationships because they feel it will make the mortgage process easier and less stressful for everyone than if you were to use an outside lender. In this scenario I've seen builders offer to pay closing costs and up to one year of Homeowner's Association fees for buyers who purchase using their mortgage company.
Lot Premium Reductions - Like a rare platinum ring, highly desirable lots tend to come with a premium attached. Builders often place premiums ranging from a few thousand to nearly $100,000 on the most desirable lots in the community. Lot premiums are not set in stone and under the right circumstances can be negotiated much like everything else.
Reduced Option Prices - With the average new home buyer spending about 10% of their purchase price on upgrades you should look to get the most bang for your buck with the limited budget you have set for options. When evaluating the standard features list for a community, check into the cost for all of the options you would want in the home and see if the builder is providing special pricing on select options.
Standard Features... and then some! - To make homes more appealing than the standard features list will allow, builders are now including previously optional home upgrades like granite countertops, expanded suites, swimming pools and sun rooms as an incentive to buy in their community.
"Free Gifts" with Home Purchase - Sometimes it takes more than granite countertops and hardwood floors to make a home stand out. Some builders are going the extra mile and including in-home luxuries like plasma screen tvs and offering car leases to draw in prospective buyers. For soon to be commuters, a two year lease on a new car might be the perfect way to help ease into life in the suburbs.
When you are ready to start looking for a new home your best bet is to get in touch with a real estate agent who specializes in new home communities. This agent should help you cross shop communities and serve as a third party to help advise on the best deals and the potential pitfalls of incentives. Because incentives vary greatly, you will need to weigh the pros and cons of each community before making a final decision on the home that's right for you.