Thinking of buying a new home rather than an existing one? Owning a brand-new residence is still the goal of many buyers in Southern California and beyond. The lure of all-new construction, untouched appliances, and even a clean driveway can prove irresistible.
Fortunately, new homes are being built throughout the region, despite rising mortgage rates and updated zoning rules. If you have your heart set on owning one, two of our New Home Specialists are sharing some advice that can help make your dream a reality. They also share their thoughts on what’s trending in the new-homes market.
“In this changing real estate markets, new homes and multi-home developments are selling better than resale,” said Markus Canter, New Homes Director and Luxury Director for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. “Whether it’s a first-time buyer or a buyer looking to downsize, both would prefer either a new home or a ‘turnkey remodeled’ home due to rising material and labor costs,” said Markus, based in our Beverly Hills office.
Chantal Sanchez, a New Homes Specialist in our La Jolla Prospect office, has sold three new-construction homes in the past two years. “Buyers are looking for smart-home features such as a central computer hub, or an electric vehicle charger in the garage,” she said. “They like large kitchen spaces with an oversized island and under-cabinet space for new gadgets such as air fryers and pressure cookers. They also are attracted to large pantries, bold brass and gold options for kitchen and bathroom lighting, and matching hardware and faucets. More-flexible floorplans with nooks for exercise, office space, and reading/meditation are also high on their wish lists.”
Markus and Chantal agree that in Southern California, new-home buyers are excited to have plenty of usable outdoor spaces, such as kitchens, that elevate their day-to-day living experience. Native landscaping for less maintenance and water-efficiency make outside time more enjoyable.
To satisfy buyer demand, new-home builders are placing an emphasis on sustainable, green construction materials and energy-efficient amenities such as windows, Markus noted. Solar panels, which are required on all new homes built in California, are also greatly appreciated by homebuyers.
According to a recent industry survey Chantal reviewed, buyers want lots of patio and outdoor living spaces, solar power, an EV charger in the garage, energy efficiency, and eco-friendly home features throughout.
Where are new homes being built? “As Millennials and Gen Z are still working in urban areas, the desire to live in communities within walking distance to amenities make multi-development homes in suburban and urban areas is increasingly more popular, with smaller commercial communities being built around these developing communities,” Chantal said.
Most first-time buyers are looking for a place to move into the new chapter in their life, she said, whether they are changing marital status or growing their family, and price is usually a concern as they want to live within their means. They tend to be moving into more suburban areas or close to their work. They prefer a single-family home with a backyard that is near safe areas. First-time buyers are willing to sacrifice commute times to be in a larger square footage.
Buyers who are downsizing tend to prefer condos or townhomes in gated communities. They are typically attracted to HOAs that handle a lot of the yard work and offer amenities such as a gym, pool, and located near restaurants, stores, and activities. They do not need as much square footage, but the location is important as they want to spend their time enjoying life, rather than taking care of their homes.
Sure, you can find a new home on your own. But it is always in a buyer’s best interest to work with an agent who is a New Homes Specialist, Markus said. “Buying from a builder is very different from buying a resale home. New Homes Specialists are familiar with the uniqueness of new-construction homes, specialized new home purchase agreements, and the particular nuances of the process of purchasing a new home to ensure and protect buyers’ interests and their rights. Builders’ sales teams often imply that the final price is fixed, but savvy New-Homes Specialists are familiar with how to negotiate incentives for upgrades in materials or landscaping, plus potential credits on closing costs.”
New Homes Division agents also can educate buyers on the many advantages that come with the purchase of a new home vs. a resale. Buyers will benefit by asking a New Homes Specialist about the various nuances that come with purchasing a new home. It is important that buyers’ rights are clearly outlined in the purchase contracts builders utilize.
Buyers should discuss with their agent how to secure potential inclusion and other incentives from the builder, and have a good understanding of the builder’s warranties. Although homebuying is never without some challenges, a New Homes Division agent can help buyers make the process less stressful, easier, and work toward ensuring their highest goals are met.
“For buyers, since we understand the new-homes market, we can assist them and guide them throughout their home-purchasing journey from construction to completion,” Chantal said.
To qualify as a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Homes Division agent, agents must have already completed a number of specific requirements prior to becoming designated. A directory of New Homes Division specialists can be found here.