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What you should ask before buying a newly constructed house

Buying New Construction
This June 20, 2019, photo shows an existing home is offered for sale in Rutledge, Ga. On Thursday, June 27, Freddie Mac reports on this week’s average U.S. mortgage rates.
. John Bazemore / The Associated Press

Model home tours can be a valuable way to get a feel for what it would be like to live in a newly built house, but it’s important to remember that these homes are also a sales tool meant to entice buyers.

Often, the model includes optional features that will add to the cost of the house. In some cases, things are left out of a model home that could make the house less appealing, such as interior doors that could make the rooms feel smaller and window treatments that are needed for privacy but will reduce natural light.

Serious buyers need to understand the ramifications of buying a newly built house for their future and the ongoing value of the property. An on-site salesperson can be a great resource for information on the model homes, lots, and plans for the community.

We asked Raylene Lewis, a real estate agent with Century 21 Beal in College Station, Texas, who sells new houses, as well as existing ones, to share her suggestions for what to ask a salesperson in a model home.

Top questions to ask when touring a model home:

1. Is there a new school proposed and funded for the development?

2. Where do the utilities come from?

3. What has been the price change from when the development began until now?

4. Are there any upcoming zoning changes I need to be aware of?

5. What are the planned neighborhood features, when are they expected to be complete, and what will be the homeowners association fees?

6. What type of warranty do you offer?

7. Is the foundation standard? Is the foundation certified by an engineer?

8. What can I expect my average utilities to be?

9. What will be included on the outside of my house, such as landscaping, gutters, fencing, and a sprinkler system?

10. What will be included on the inside of my home, such as window blinds and different levels of countertops and flooring?

11. Are any builder discount incentives being offered?

12. How many phases will the development have?

13. How many copies of this exact floor plan are in the subdivision?

14. What is the average turnaround time on construction?

15. Will you work with inspectors should I choose to hire a private one to review each stage of construction?

16. What is the process when something goes wrong, when I’m not happy with something, or when something breaks?

17. Are there any special taxes or fees to pay because this is a new community?