Sometimes getting out into the world can seem like such a chore that we want to put life on hold. The good news is that if you’re feeling this way, your home shopping journey doesn’t have to stop. In fact, many people are finding that spending more time at home than usual motivates them to take concrete steps towards their next residence.
Most house searches start online anyway. That means you have plenty of tools at hand to support a virtual home search from early preparation to choosing the neighborhood, community, builder, floor plan, and lot. Since it takes anywhere from six to nine months to build a new construction home, depending on the size, materials, and local market, you may as well start the process sooner rather than later.
While you’re probably itching to start looking at homes, you need to know your buying power before you fall for a home that’s out of your reach or underestimate what you can afford. First, write down your financial information: gross monthly income and other assets, monthly expenses, etc. You ‘ll need to know where to access your financial statements and proof of all sources of income when you apply for a loan, so it makes sense to collect that information now.
To estimate your purchasing power, you’ll need to know your down payment amount and then use a mortgage calculator to get a general idea of your potential payment, including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Don’t forget you may also have to pay an HOA fee.
Contact a realtor online or by phone to get a mortgage pre-approval letter.
If you live in st cloud Florida than you can do a search in google as realtors in st cloud fl , and remember that you’ll need to provide some documentation of your financial life and authorize a credit check, but this is the best way to make sure you can buy. Mortgage applications and approvals can be done entirely online with secure, encrypted portals to provide information. A mortgage pre-approval from a lender will not commit you to that financial institution or loan. You can always apply for a loan with the builder’s recommended lender or another lender when you’re ready to finalize your purchase.
Once you’ve established your price range, you’re ready for the fun part: buying your newly built home.
You may already have a general idea of where you want to buy a new home, but if not, you can start gathering information online. Tools like Google Maps can help you navigate locations within a radius of where you work to identify potential communities. You can then narrow or broaden your search on NewHomesHere.com to find new communities.
Google Maps also allows you to switch to street view to explore neighborhoods virtually. Zoom out to find nearby parks, cafes, libraries, and restaurants, and zoom out to see a specific street. However, when looking at a community in its early stages, you may need to rely more on the community developer’s or builder’s renderings and images to visualize what the neighborhood will look like.
If you have children, schools are often a priority. You can use GreatSchools.org to read school reviews and ratings. Another good resource for school information can be the school system itself. For example, if you want your child to have a bilingual education or attend a school with a strong focus on math and science, the school system’s website will have that information.
Other neighborhood information options include the Homefacts app, which provides comprehensive school and crime statistics, demographic information, and environmental reports. The AroundMe app makes it easy to find restaurants, movie theaters, gas stations and more on the go.
The main considerations when looking for a house are location, price and the house itself. While you may love Craftsman, modern or contemporary farmhouses, you can focus on what your ideal home looks like by searching online.
You can also weigh the pros and cons of condos and townhomes to see if that lifestyle matches your preferences. Make a list of your “must have” priorities and “nice” services for your home and neighborhood. If you’re shopping with someone else, you can each make your list and then discuss tradeoffs you may be willing to make.
Now is the time to connect with the builder or a sales agent who can help you through the entire process. Ask the builder to send you a link to a virtual tour or video of the model home. Virtual tours offer a much more detailed look at what you’re buying than photos alone, and you can easily begin to picture yourself on the plan.
Do you want to be more interactive? Use FaceTime, Google Duo, or Skype for a video chat with your builder. If you want to include others in the conversation, a Zoom meeting or other conference line works well. With a video chat, the agent can share more information directly with you about the home you are interested in or take a virtual tour in real time.
You can also schedule a one-on-one private tour or simply inquire about updates or request an online consultation with a designer. Ask your builder if they have an online design center or if they can send you additional information on options and features.
Never be afraid to ask for more details! What other images, videos and content can the builder share about the new home? Are there many maps available? What is the latest information on promotions? Your builder has all of this information and more.
Once you’ve narrowed down your preferences for a neighborhood and home style, it’s time to evaluate communities. Most new planned communities have a website that provides extensive information on existing and planned amenities, as well as area resources. You will usually find videos of what the community looks like now and what it will look like in the future. Some sites may include a virtual neighborhood walking tour. Don’t forget to check the amenities you prioritize. For example, if you want to swim year-round, see if there are indoor and outdoor pools. If you love to hike, see if there is trail access.
While buying and building a view of a home that is not seen is not uncommon, it is a process that many international buyers, vacation home buyers, and relocation buyers have accomplished with great success in the past. When you’re ready for a new home, get comfortable with your technology and start shopping.