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Three things you can do to protect yourself when buying “better than new construction”

Real estate advertisements often use the phrase “better than new” to lure buyers to purchase homes that have been built in the last few years. While this may be a great opportunity to move into a contemporary home without the headaches of dealing with construction, this does not mean that you should let your guard down. Homes of any age can come with their fair share of problems. Here are three things you can do to protect yourself when becoming the second owner of a recently built home:

1. Do Not Skip Your Due Diligence.

When you know that the house you are considering purchasing was built within the last few years, you may be tempted to save yourself time and money by skipping the inspection, radon testing, vermin testing and survey. Do not do that.

New construction is often far from perfect. The original builder may have constructed the home defectively, the prior owners may have done some substandard work on the home and the little time that your home has been around may have taken its toll. Performing all recommended inspections can save you from big headaches down the road. If anything of concern does show up on the inspection reports, you have options! You can ask the prior owner to remedy the issues or credit you for the cost of repairs. If the problem is significant enough or the seller is not willing to work with you, you can walk away from the deal all together.

You also do not want to skip the survey. The survey will show you the boundaries of the land you are about to acquire. This can help you in many ways! First, a survey may help you prevent future boundary disputes with your neighbors. For example, if you intend on erecting a fence, you will want to know where your land ends so you can place the fence on your property and avoid a future dispute over the fence. Second, a survey will educate you about certain conditions that have been imposed by the law on your property. Such conditions may include easements and rights of way. This way, if you wake up to a crew digging on your property, you will know whether or not they are entitled to be there. Third, the survey will show whether the existing structures and alterations located on your property are in compliance with laws and restrictions that govern setbacks, building lines etc. And finally, there are many other reasons to become educated about the land that you are about to acquire, so you should not omit this very important step.

Overall, you may be tempted to piggyback on the first owner’s experience with the house and assume that there are no problems with your “better than new” future purchase, but do not do that. Do your own research and know what you are buying!

2. Get the Builder Documents from the Original Owner.

In most cases, builders provide the original owner with several important documents such as the home warranty booklet, manufacturers’ warranties and appliance user’s manuals. Having these documents can save you a lot of time and money down the road.

The home warranty booklet provides the terms of the home warrant that the builder provides to the owner in addition or in place of the implied warranties that are required by North Carolina law. Not all builders provide their buyers with these additional assurances, but many use the warranties as a selling point. These warranties, among other things, can help you get free repairs on your home if you discover certain defects. However, every such warranty is different so you should check the document itself for what it covers and for how long. This, among other reasons, is why it is important to obtain this document from the prior owner.

Generally, the home warranties do not cover appliances and certain other products that have been included in the home. Instead, in most instances, the builder transfers the manufacturers’ warranties to the buyer. The terms of these warranties vary greatly but you can save yourself many headaches by obtaining these documents.

Finally, you will certainly want the user manuals for your appliances. These are unquestionably useful when a random red button starts flashing on your dishwasher or you need to adjust the time on your stove.

While, in most cases, you will never need to read these documents, having them readily available can save you time and money. Have your real estate agent request these documents from the seller.

3. Get to Know the Immediate Area.

Whether you are a first-time home buyer or a real estate mogul, you likely have heard of the phrase “location, location, location.” Clearly, location is a key consideration when buying a home. However, buyers of new and recently built homes should be especially vigilant. It is not enough to pick the perfect county or the perfect town with great schools. You need to be aware of the area immediately surrounding your chosen neighborhood.

Currently, the population of the triangle and other areas within North Carolina is skyrocketing. Land in certain areas is becoming scarce. This means that new neighborhoods are being built in less than desirable locations. All too often, buyers get excited about the “great deal” for a large new home only to find out that it is adjacent to a large powerline or the backyard overlooks a highway or both!
When shopping for a new home, get to know the immediate area. Look at your lot on Google Maps, check it out on GIS and drive around your neighborhood and surrounding area. You want to know whether there are any large utilities in the area, high-traffic highways and odd natural topography. You also want to be educated on the types of businesses and industry that are close by. Also, do our best to figure out what future development may be coming to the area. You do not want to pay the upcharge for a lake view property if that view might become obstructed with new construction.

Nothing on this website or this blog should be considered legal advice. Anderson Legal does not represent you and no client-attorney relationship is formed until you have completed our client intake process.

The post THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF WHEN BUYING “BETTER THAN NEW CONSTRUCTION” appeared first on Anderson Legal – Commercial and Construction Litigation – North Carolina.

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