Because a new home is a major investment, it's not a purchase you want to rush. It's important to consider your options from every possible angle. Since you'll be living in your home for several years, it makes sense to push for the best value you can get.
During the new home-buying process, you'll hear frequently used industry terms "pre-sale" and "spec" in relation to new houses. What do these new home descriptors mean, and which one fits the timeline for you and your family?
In today's post, we're going to go through some options you should consider when it comes to choosing your new family home. We're also going to show you some of the key differences between a new build and a quick possession home.
Let's start with the difference between a spec and a pre-sale home.
Most commonly referred to as quick possession homes, spec homes are houses where construction has already been started. These homes may be nearly complete, or in framing stage - there's a variety here. However, the lot size, room layouts and usually exteriors are completed prior to the sale date.
How long a spec home takes to be move-in ready depends on what specific stage the home's construction is at.
Also called “dirt sale” homes, pre-sale properties allow the buyer to personally select the lot, floor plan, exterior colours, and interior features prior to construction beginning.
A pre-sale home is built from the ground up and typically takes between 9 - 12 months to complete, depending on a variety of factors, like the building process and the time of year.
Partially Finished Homes
Partially finished homes fit somewhere in-between spec and pre-sale homes. These homes can allow buyers to have some involvement in the construction process by choosing cabinet finishes, colour schemes, etc. Most of the framing has typically been finished, although just how fast you can move in is again dependant, based on where the home is at in the construction process.
Drawing up Your Wishlist
What important features are you looking for in your new home? Have you created your needs versus wants checklist yet? Here are some key questions you should consider:
- Are you feeling cramped with your current square footage? Then you need to make finding a larger home your first priority.
- Do you need to be in a better community for raising your children? Focus on selecting a new neighbourhood with modern and convenient amenities.
- Are you looking for better fittings and more stylish building techniques? Concentrate your search on newly-built homes - or better yet, have one built expressly to meet your needs!
Once you've answered these questions and finalized the ideal community for your next home, it's time to find a great Calgary builder. Make sure to have a comprehensive comparison list to help select the builder you want.
Quick Possession Homes
What can you do if your life simply doesn't have the time for a drawn-out home selection process? Perhaps a career change is forcing you to move to a new neighbourhood immediately, or you want to move before school starts. Do these complications mean you have to start making compromises? Not at all! If life is rushing you into your next home, look for quick possession homes.
Most home builders working in prime developments end up starting construction on at least a few homes without a purchaser. The result is what's known as a quick possession home, as previously discussed above.
Quick possession homes offer you most of the advantages of a premium home constructed by an expert builder. The one thing you miss out on is the opportunity to make your own design decisions; you'll end up buying the house "as is." This can make it cheaper than a home constructed for you from the ground up!
This is also a much better option if you prefer to avoid all the decisions that comes with a new build. Quick possession homes are, as their name suggests, ready for occupancy much faster than new build homes. This can be a huge advantage if, for instance, your last home sold much faster than you expected.
New Build Homes
New build homes offer you an outstanding blend of affordability and premium quality. Because home builders like NuVista work on many homes simultaneously, they can take advantage of economies of scale to decrease construction expenses and reduce your overall costs.
You should assess the work of the home builders who are active in the area that interests you. Inspect their show homes to get a feel for the quality of their craftsmanship. Ask them about the range of options you'd have if you worked with them on building a new home of your own. Remember, what comes standard to one builder, like finishes, for example, may be considered an upgrade (read: extra cost for you) by another.
When you're on board from the beginning of the home building process, you have the opportunity to exercise more control over the finished product. For example, the lot selection, floor plan, features and finishes will all be overseen by you; making a new build a much more customized experience.
As an added bonus, you'll receive an outstanding warranty on all the work and materials used in constructing your ideal home. This can give you peace of mind when the work is done and it's time to move in. Most builders generally take 9 - 12 months to complete a new build home, and this can be the perfect span of time to sell your current home and get your finances in order.
Which Should You Choose?
The type of home you select depends on what factors are most important to you. If you need to move into your new home as soon as possible, then a spec home is your best match. The features have already been chosen and installed by the builder, making it possible for you to move in quickly.
One thing to keep in mind is how much customization matters to you. If you want to add vaulted ceilings or relocate some walls, then a spec home isn't the right decision. Remember, construction has already started, and in a lot of quick possession homes, is almost complete. It's not really possible to change major structural pieces at this point.
This is the same for a partially finished home, even if it's still being framed. It's hard to make changes, even if it feels like something "smaller", like altering cabinet finishes or installing granite countertops.
This home was planned out by the builder, using popular choices and options. The finishes and features made have already been ordered and paid for. So a spec home is ideal for you if you rank the importance of “time” above “customization". Besides, you can rest assured knowing you're still getting top quality material and current home building trends in your new home.
If time isn't a major factor for you or you already have a particular lot size or home layout chosen, then pre-sale homes really are your best bet. As a pre-sale homebuyer, you have a much more active role in the building of your house, from beginning to end. You get to choose the colour schemes and other features to match your particular preferences and lifestyle.
While being able to choose your own features means that your home's construction will take a bit longer to be finished, the reward is you'll have the dream home you've always envisioned.
There is one more thing we wanted to address, as it's a question we hear often...
Is Buying A Quick Possession Home "Settling?"
In a word, no! Quick possession homes aren't just an opportunity to save some money on a home that's already under construction. For many buyers, the quick possession model is actually ideal.
Many families need to get into a quality home fast, and quick possession units are perfect for them. Other buyers appreciate the reduced financial pressures involved in a quick possession. Many builders even offer incentive programs to further reduce the cost, making them that much more attractive.
Buying a quick possession home from a reputable builder is no different from having one built. You're getting the same level of quality work, from the first foundation pour to the last shingle placed on the roof. Quick possession homes are covered by the same stellar home warranty program as new build homes, and that means you'll get the same peace of mind as in a home you helped design.
What Do You Need?
If you want to break it down to basics, here's what you have:
Spec Home / Partially Framed / Quick Possession:
- faster move in time with less customization options
Pre-Sale Home / New Build
- longer time to completion with more control over the final product
So what's the most important factor for your family AND fits within your budget?
Looking At the Big Picture
It's important to spend time considering just how important timing is to you and your family. Keep in mind that since you are able to move into a spec home sooner, you can actually spend more time later on making personalized adjustments to your new home, to help it be more customized to your specific lifestyle.
Talk to family and friends who've purchased either kind of property and gain wisdom from their experiences. Make sure you carefully consider all benefits and drawbacks to determine which home type will best accommodate your family's timetable.
Whether you choose to have a home built for you or elect to take advantage of a builder's quick possession offers, working with an experienced home builder is an excellent idea. Even if you're not personally involved in the design decisions that are made in the course of the construction process, you can rest assured that your builder is delivering the highest possible level of quality when your new home is complete.
*Originally posted September 13, 2016, updated January 17, 2019.