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Feathering your empty nest

by Debra Gelbart on Aug 5, 2016

When you’re thinking of buying a newconstruction home that’s already built or nearly-built instead of one waiting to be built, you’ll hear it referred to several ways: quick-move-in, move-in-ready, an inventory home, a ‘spec/ speculative’ home, or the newest designation— a designer home. For empty-nesters especially, a new home well on its way to being completed can have a number of advantages.

Quicker occupancy

Generally, the timeframe for moving into a designer home typically is less than half the time required for a home not yet started. 

“Because of stress in the labor market in the Valley,” said Hal Looney, Arizona president of Shea Homes’ Active Lifestyle Communities, “given the great success the Valley has had in home sales, it’s taking longer to build homes from scratch.” Shea Homes’ active adult brand is Trilogy, which maintains four communities in the greater Phoenix metro area—in Peoria, San Tan Valley,Wickenburg and Rio Verde east of Scottsdale.

AV Homes’ vice president of sales, Steve Snoddy, underscores the time savings with move-in ready homes. The building process for a home not yet under construction can take seven to eight months (in some situations it may only be five months), he said, but if a buyer has the fexibility to move in sooner, a move-in-ready home can be ideal. AV Homes offers two active adult communities in greater Phoenix—Encore at Eastmark in Mesa and CantaMia at Estrella in Goodyear.

An inventory home can be ready now or within 30 to 60 days, said Carolyn Morrison, Robson Communities’ senior vice president of sales - Southern Arizona Region. “Homebuyers can start enjoying their amenities right away and begin enjoying more time with their friends and neighbors,” she said. Robson offers two active adult communities in the Phoenix area — PebbleCreek in Goodyear and Robson Ranch Arizona in the Casa Grande area.

The timing can be as quick as five to seven days if the buyer is paying cash, Snoddy said. “We always will take our buyers through a final walk-through so they understand how the home works,” he said. “We allow up to a week to do this and create the closing documents for signature. If the buyer needs a loan, the process from contract to close is approximately 45 days.”

“Homebuyers may prefer to choose a move-in-ready designer home and become seasonal residents or until they decide to make a permanent move,” Morrison [of Robson Communities] said. “There is no need to plan out vacations when you have a beautiful home with access to indoor and outdoor pools, an impressive clubhouse with activities, a full-service restaurant, a golf course and plenty of pickleball courts. 

Other advantages

In many instances, Snoddy [of AV Homes] said that pricing is slightly more advantageous for these homes. Because the buyer isn’t selecting the finishes, he said, “we typically place a slightly higher incentive (reducing the overall price) than if a customer bought and built their home and made all the choices themselves.”

Sometimes a move-in-ready buyer can have the best of all worlds. With a designer home, the buyer doesn’t have to make the majority of interior finish selections (the builder’s professional interior design team does that), but opportunities remain to personalize some selections, builders’ representatives say.

For example, in most Shea Homes Trilogy communities, some designer homes are only partially completed at the time of purchase—purposely so buyers can personalize some selections, Looney said. Depending on the stage of construction of the home at the time of purchase, he explained, buyers may be able to choose the interior color, cabinet finish and flooring. But as the designer home becomes more complete, the buyer typically cannot make changes to what already has been selected, he added.

That suits many buyers of designer homes just fine, Morrison said, noting that some homebuyers prefer the benefit of having the selections and interior color choices made for them. “They get to focus on moving into their new home that has all the benefits of a beautiful, finished home,” she said.

About half of AV Homes’ inventory homes are complete and all options chosen, Snoddy said. About 25 percent of the homes are early in construction and the other 25 percent are halfway through construction or further. “The homes early in construction allow certain options to be chosen by the customer and those options are typically those the customers care the most about—countertops, flooring and cabinets,” he said.

Finally, according to these builder representatives, most builders work with preferred lenders who can expedite the mortgage process for move-in-ready homebuyers.

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