Nearly a quarter of all homes built in the U.S. are “custom,” a figure that speaks to how many homebuyers crave the chance to create a one-of-a-kind house that works for the way they live. From the realtor perspective, the growing popularity of custom homebuilding presents some exciting opportunities. After all, many customers who are building a custom home need additional guidance through the process—and a realtor can be the perfect partner at every stage.
First things first: It’s important to familiarize yourself with the custom homebuilding process. Understanding the steps that must occur to transform an empty property into your client’s dream home will help you ensure your client is happy with the result and willing to recommend you to friends and family.
Let’s walk through the basics of custom homebuilding:
Most of your residential real estate customers probably enjoy a very straightforward budgeting process: They look at how much they can afford to pay monthly and then take into account the cost of a home, interest rates, property tax, and any homeowner association fees.
Of course, with custom homes, the total cost also includes the building of the home. If a customer doesn’t already own developed land, his or her budget should also account for the cost of the land, site-development costs, and associated regulatory and permitting costs.
As a realtor, you can work closely with your customer and the custom homebuilder to determine a suitable budget. Once the customer has determined how much he or she can spend on the entire project, you can identify how much can go toward the home itself, which provides the customer’s working budget.
This is the stage where many customers partner with a realtor in order to find their perfect location. (Meanwhile, others will already own their land and may opt to work directly with the builder for the rest of the process.) This can be particularly challenging for customers looking outside of the city limits, because it can be difficult to narrow down the many choices available.
Using MLS and your knowledge of the local area, you can help each homebuyer identify land that is in his or her ideal location and is suitable for the type and size of custom home he or she desires. At this stage, your customer should have a preliminary idea of his or her home design (e.g., square footage, one story or two, size of garage), which will help guide the size and type of lot he or she buy.
Deciding on a Home Design
Next, the customer gets to design the home! With custom homebuilding, buyers can design their home almost any way they want—within their budget, of course. By working with a builder like Adair Homes, customers can start with a customizable plan and then fit it to their needs. This can include adding bedrooms, expanding the square footage, moving windows, upgrading the kitchen, and completely moving rooms.
Developing the Land
Once the home design is finalized, it’s time to develop the land itself. With a traditional home, this step is handled “behind the scenes” by the property developer. However, with a custom home, the customers are usually involved and even have an opportunity to save money by handling some of the key tasks themselves.
Working with his or her homebuilder, the customer establishes a site plan, which takes into account factors such as driveway length and direction, slopes and other uneven areas, drainage challenges, and location of trees and other natural features. The customer must also consider the cost of development, which includes utility connections, septic installation, paving, and tree removal.
As with a prebuilt home, customers going the custom route need to get financing from a lender (unless they’re paying for their home with cash). Adair Homes partners with Alliance Financial Services, which specializes in construction loans to make the process easy.
Building the Home
It’s time for construction to begin! Now that the land is secured and developed, and the home is designed and financed, all your customer has to do is sit back and relax. In a matter of months, he or she will have the keys to his or her brand-new, custom dream home.
Interested in learning more about Adair Homes and our custom homebuilding process? Contact us today!