By Jim Belfiore and Jordan Rose
People have been moving this year—literally.
More Arizonians have purchased homes this year than during any year since 2007. Phoenix and its suburbs, alone, will have recorded nearly 100,000 resale home transactions and another 23,000 resale home sales. With an average of three people living in each Valley home, that means a whopping 360,000 to 370,000 people will have moved in 2018.
With demand rising, homebuilders are offering more choices in homes than they have in the past. Inexperienced new homebuyers are often surprised to learn that what they see isn’t necessarily what they will get—at least not at the price advertised on the “base” price sheet commonly handed to them on their way to the front door of the model home. Many models have upgraded features and options that are not included in the “base” home. They are, as the terminology suggests, upgraded homes; they usually cost tens of thousands of dollars more than base homes.
Most builders publish a list of many of the features included in homes on the backside of their base price sheet. When shoppers find the base price does not cover the upgraded features, they tend to focus on features they have long thought about, features they use or look at regularly, features they have a clear opinion on or that they have seen on a television design show like kitchen countertops, flooring material, cabinets, etc. Most of the features on the long list are not scrutinized.
They should be, though, particularly when shoppers are comparing one community with several other communities. Different builders offer different features in their homes, based upon their brand, sales strategy, and what they believe will sell the most homes. Here are a few commonly overlooked features that deserve some attention when home shopping:
Gas or electric: Gas heat costs less than electric. What type of heater does the home have? Also, are you striving to be the next great home chef? You likely want gas service to your stovetop. If the home has gas but an electric range, are gas lines at least run to the wall the electric stove backs to? Ask or slide out the stove to find out before purchasing.
Ceiling/door heights/baseboards: What is the height of the ceilings? Interior doors? Baseboards? Lower ceilings and doors make homes feel less spacious while taller ones “open up” rooms, making them feel grander. Many homes built today have 10-foot to 12-foot ceilings on main floors, while upper floors have 9-foot ceilings. The interior doors included in many new homes are 6 foot 8 inches, though builders may model 8-foot doors. The larger interior doors, like ceilings, make homes feel more open. Similarly, what are the baseboard heights? Some homes come with 2.25-inch baseboards, small and understated, while others come with 5-inch baseboards.
Kitchen Cabinets: How big are the cabinets? What are the materials? Do they have soft-close doors / drawers? Do they include hardware and crown molding?
Tech Features: Does the home have technological features included, like door locks that unlock and lock via a phone app? Is technology integrated into the home?
Energy Efficiency: Sure, you would notice solar panels on the exterior of a home, but just how energy efficient is the home? What is the HERs rating? What is the SEER rating of the air conditioner? Does the roof include radiant-barrier sheathing? What type of lighting is included? LED?
If you are in the market for a new home, you may find yourself a lot happier with your purchase a month or two after closing, if you compare both the home prices and the included features to find the right combination for you. Ask for the standard feature list when visiting models; then go thru the model and understand what is included at the price you are paying.