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Building or Buying?

A look at options for finding your dream home

March 14, 2013
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Are you the kind of person who knows exactly what they want in a home, or are you open to falling in love with a home that you might have never imagined?

Owning a home is one of the largest investment considerations in the lives of Americans today. Once you've decided that you're ready to own a home, the next step is determining whether to build your dream home or find your dreams in an existing home.

Building Your Dream Home

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The decision to build your new home may stem from the desire to live in a new or developing community, or from the allure of customizing your dream home to specifications that fit your lifestyle.

Whether your goal is to build a home with a higher resale value or living in your new home for many years to come, the building process is a big commitment.

How involved will you be in the building process? An established developer or contractor will oversee most of the build, while giving you the ability to customize various aspects of the home such as interior layouts, appliances and finishing touches like flooring, countertops and fixtures.

You may also have the option to choose certain exterior features as well. The downside may be that, while contractors have their own work force and access to discount prices on materials, you are generally subject to the costs quoted by the builder, with little room to negotiate.

Choosing a reputable builder is an important step. Try talking to other new homeowners in the area to discuss their experiences.

If you want more control of the process, you may choose to contract the work yourself. Having at least a general knowledge of home building is crucial, as you will need to line up various work crews to perform parts of the project.

Finding Your Dream Home

While avoiding the ordeals that can come with building a home, purchasing an existing home may not be a pain-free process either. One consideration will be whether you are looking for a home that is ready to move into, or one that may need some alterations to suit your needs.

If you're not comfortable with overseeing a renovation project, or if you have a limited income, let your real estate agent know that you're only interested in homes that are move-in ready.

Depending on your desired location, you may have to look at many homes in order to find just the right fit. The likelihood of finding a home that suits you perfectly may be slim, so it helps to keep an open mind and only set defined preferences on the features that are most important to you.

In some cases, the owner may be willing to make alterations to secure the sale. It pays to have a reputable Realtor who can help negotiate these terms for you.

You can also look for homes that have the framework to support your dreams if you're willing to put in some work after the sale. Again, whether you choose to use a contractor or do the work yourself, some knowledge of home building processes and advice from professionals will ensure that you don't get in over your head.

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