How to Build Your Home to Order

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Many of our clients are very excited at the idea of building their own home; they can get exactly what they want.  Building a home to order is an incredibly fun process; just be ready to spend the time and make some decisions.

How It Starts

From the time that you first decide you want to build a home, you’ll need to determine where you want to be, and how much you want to spend.  This will often determine your options for builders, depending on which builders own lots in each area.

You’ll want to meet with your realtor to start discussing your wants and needs in your house (floor plan, lot size, price, basement, etc.).

Also, speak to a local lender and get a pre-approved for your loan.  This ensures that you know what you want to spend on a home, which is key when building to order and reviewing possible upgrades. If you’d like recommendations to a lender, click here.

Researching the Builder(s)

Once you and your realtor have identified potential developments and/or builders, you’ll want to tour any available homes from that builder.  Look specifically at the style and quality of the finishes; are you seeing that the trim carpentry is well done?  Do the floor plans work for your needs?

This is also a great time to ask about materials you don’t see: what siding is being used?  What about brand of house wrap?

Finally, research the particular builder.  Is it a local builder, or a national builder?  How many years of experience do they have?  Will they survive a housing downturn and be around to work with you on warranty items?

Initial Meeting / Writing the Offer

Once you’ve chosen your builder, you’ll want to meet with the builder’s representative to review the initial pricing for the lot you prefer, your desired floor plan, standard finishes, and any upgrades you will want to add to the plan.

Again, assuming you’re comfortable, you’ll work with your realtor to write the initial offer for the build-to-order home.  Some comments on the purchase agreement:

  • Your realtor should be able to tell you an approximate closing date and required earnest money; builders can vary in what they require.
  • Your initial offer may be just the base price + lot price (including charges if the lot is a daylight or walkout lot), but it’s great to have an idea of what you can expect.
  • You’ll want to know which appliances are included so you can put those in the offer. Most builders include an oven/range, microwave, and dishwasher (though some also include a refrigerator).
  • Many builders have a preferred lender who will offer a closing cost credit when you work with them. It’s a good idea to also call the preferred lender and compare against your current pre-approval so you can make the best decision for you.
  • Typically, a one-year builder warranty is included, with no deductible and no cost.
  • Selections will generally need to be made within 2-3 weeks to finalize the home being built and the price. This timeline should be included in the offer.

Selections Meeting

After you have an accepted offer, a selections meeting will need to be set with the builder’s representative.  Expect this selections meeting to take about 1-2 hours.  During this time, you’ll make quite a few decisions, such as exterior color, countertops, cabinets, and flooring.  Have fun with this process!

Afterwards, you will be provided with a selections sheet from the builder and a purchase agreement amendment showing the new price (if applicable). We buy houses in Fort Worth Tx

Pre-Drywall Electrical Walkthrough

When the house is framed and the builder is getting ready for the electrical installation, you will receive a call asking to schedule a Pre-Drywall Electrical Walkthrough.  This will take approximately one hour and will be held at your house (while under construction). This gives you a chance to specify placement of outlets, light switches, or other requirements.

Be prepared: most clients do end up adding some cost from the pre-drywall electrical walkthrough, typically from adding additional wiring or outlets.

Setting Final Closing Date

When the house is at drywall stage, the builder will notify your realtor of the finalized completion date.  This will occur at least one month prior to closing. You can take this to your lender and schedule the closing time / place. Start packing!


We always recommend our clients get an independent inspection, even for a new house. You’ll want to schedule this about 7-10 days before closing, so that your builder has time to resolve any issues.

Blue Tape Walkthrough / Warranty Meeting

Your builder will also want you to meet for a “blue tape walkthrough”. This allows you to mark any issues on the finishes with blue tape, and also gives the builder a chance to walk you through the warranty process.  Keep in mind that you’ll want to stand about 6’ away from the wall to look for paint issues; anything visible from there should be marked.

Final Walkthrough

You can request a final walkthrough within the last 24 hours prior to closing. This ensures that the builder has been able to fix everything noted during the inspection and blue tape walkthrough. Anything not yet resolved should be documented on a walkthrough form to be resolved after closing.

Closing Day!

You’ll meet with your realtor and lender, deliver your down payment and closing costs (in a cashier’s check) and receive the keys to your new home. Congratulations!

5 Factors To Consider When Deciding How Long You Should Live in Your Home Before You Sell

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Whether you just got your house keys last week or you’ve lived in your home for almost 20 years, you could always sell your home whenever you want. However, experts strongly advise homeowners to follow the “five-year rule” — stay in the same home for at least five years before selling. 

According to the 2019 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report, at least 62% of homeowners stay for more than 10 years, while the median number of years a seller stays in a home is 14. These figures may seem like such a long time, especially if you’re itching to sell ASAP or you think you’re more than ready to sell anytime soon. Here we’ll discuss some of the most important factors you should be aware of before making any rash decisions and putting up a “For Sale” sign.

Who doesn’t want to make money on the sale of their home? But if you want to maximize your profit, then your sale price must be greater than what’s left of your mortgage. During the first few years of your mortgage, a huge part of your payment goes towards interest rather than the principal. This makes it more difficult to make money off your sale if you’ve lived in the home for less than five years. The only exception would be if you purchased your home with a larger down payment, then your interest rate and mortgage amount will probably be smaller so it’s possible to make money in a shorter amount of time.

Your home equity is also an important factor to consider before deciding to sell. Equity, as defined by The Balance, is the portion of your property that you truly “own” and is a homeowner’s most valuable asset. Simply put, your equity is the difference between the home’s market value and what you owe in your mortgage. 

You build home equity through paying off more of the principal on your loan. If you sell too soon, you won’t have enough accrued equity and you’ll be paying more to the lender than what you’ll earn on the home’s sale.

Your equity also grows when your home appreciates in value due to a strong local real estate market and improvement projects you make, such as remodelling the kitchen or bathroom, redoing the flooring, and other renovations that have higher return on investment. It’s best to take on these projects slowly as you live in the home so you can maximize your profit when it’s time to sell.

How long should you live in your home before you sell? It may be best to stay put for at least a couple of years if you want to avoid paying hefty taxes. The home must be your primary residence for a minimum of two of the five years prior to the sale to be exempt from paying capital gains taxes on the profits of your sale — which could cost up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for married couples.

Another thing to look out for is the condition of your local market, which can also make a huge difference especially if you’re eager to make more profit. If you want to sell now and your market currently favors buyers, you may not get a higher sales price than you intended. Waiting for a stronger seller’s market would be wiser, where there’s a higher demand among buyers thus an increase in home prices, but it may take a long time to wait for such. Don’t forget that you will also need to purchase a different home once you list your house for sale. 

Aside from the costs associated with selling your home, you also need to consider your home buying and anticipated moving costs. Seller closing costs often include taxes, prepayments, lender costs, and title and settlement company fees which can vary by location. 

These costs can eat a lot of your target profit, especially when you’re selling and buying in a short period of time. Also, it’s going to take some time for your property’s value to increase to cover these transaction costs. Keeping these expenses in mind before you sell is crucial because it will allow you to assess your financial situation and how you can make more money from your biggest investment—your beloved home.