CONTACT A LENDER
Unless you're paying cash, you're going to need a mortgage. The first thing you need to do is contact a mortgage lender. They will help you determine how much you can qualify for, tell you how much you will need for your down payment, and give you an estimate of your closing costs. If you don't know a lender, I can give you some excellent referrals. Even if you know someone, you should shop around. Different lenders offer different loan programs, varying interest rates, and some even offer incentives. You should also know that some builders will refer you to lenders who will pay part of your closing costs, so don't lock into someone until you've found your builder.
START YOUR ONLINE SEARCH
There are a lot of new subdivisions in the DFW area, offering homes in virtually every price range. Most people have an area in mind, while others have ra builder that they prefer. Visit our Search page and search by city or builder.
VISIT NEIGHBORHOODS AND BUILDERS
Once you've done your online search and found an area that looks promising, drive out and look around. Almost every builder will have a model home. Go in and take a look at their finish-out and their floor plans. Make sure to tell them that you are working with a realtor and give them my name (it's the only way I can pay part of your closing costs and obtain other incentives for you).
Every builder makes sure that their model home is the nicest home they build, with all the upgrades. If you don't like their model home, they are probably not the builder for you. If you like what you see, pick out a floor plan that looks good on paper. Some builders will have a home with that floor plan that you can look at in that area. Sometimes you will have to visit one of their other subdivisions if you want to see an actual home with that floor plan.
Ask for a list of standard features that are included in every home. It can make a huge difference in price later when you start to design your home.
Another important issue to consider is what lot you want. We will need to see what lots are available, and if they have any premiums on them. Premium lots can add an additional $5,000 to $50,000 to the price of the home, depending on what size they are or what they back up to. If you back to a pond, lake, greenbelt, forest or golf course, you are most likely going to have to pay a premium. In some cases, I have gotten builders to waive the premium.
SIGNING A CONTRACT
Now that you have found an area, builder and floor plan, we will need to sign a contract. Every builder has a different form and process, but most have the same basic elements. You will need to give them earnest money to start the process. It can range from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the price of the home and the builder. That earnest money should be refundable up to a certain point in the building process, should you need to walk away. Again, this will depend on the builder.
We will specify which floor plan we want, which elevation, and which lot on which to build. There may be some limitations. For instance, most builders will not build two homes with the same floor plan and elevation next door to each other. You may have to choose a different elevation or a different lot. They may also not be able to put your floor plan on certain lots because of the size of the footprint of the home. Those are all things we will discuss as we negotiate the contract.
We'll get a list of standard features that the builder puts in their homes, and choose upgrades from there. For instance, some builders will give you a limited amount of hardwood flooring as a standard feature. Any additional hardwood flooring will mean additional costs. Most of those upgrades can be figured in at the time we sign the contract. Some upgrades will only be available later when you visit their "design center". That is where you can choose from paint colors, lighting packages, flooring upgrades, etc.
Once a contract is signed, construction should begin within a month or two, depending on the city and the builder. Completion times will vary from six months to a year. Custom homes will take longer. You should feel free to go out and visit the site and the model home any time during the process. Depending on the builder, there will be meetings at certain phases of construction to go over progress and make any further choices.
Once the builder has completed your home, you have the right to schedule an inspection by an inspector of your choosing. The builder does not cover the cost of that inspection. I strongly suggest having an inspection before closing. A licensed inspector may find things that the builder has missed, and the best time to get items fixed is before closing. Almost every builder will fix everything that the inspector finds.
Once any repairs are made, you head to the title company, sign the papers, and the home is yours!