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To upsize or downsize...that is the question

by Debra Gelbart on Nov 6, 2015

If you’re looking to upsize or downsize your living space, a new-build move-in-ready home purchased in the next month or so may be the ideal solution for you.

Homebuilders all over the Valley have an abundance of ‘inventory’, ‘spec’ or ‘move-in-ready’ homes — those that are already at least partially built but remain unsold. And as year-end approaches, some builders offer extra incentives or special financing in order to sell these homes.

Inventory homes may carry a higher discount than those that haven’t been built yet because many, if not all, of the design options within the house are finalized which leaves a buyer with fewer opportunities to personalize the home, said Trey Bitteker, the general sales manager for PulteGroup which builds Pulte and Del Webb Homes. Generally, a buyer can expect to pay $3,000 to $20,000 less for an inventory home than for a comparable floorplan that still needs to be built, he said. 

What’s more, depending on the stage of construction and the builder’s policies, sometimes you might be able to choose at least some personalized options such as flooring and countertops, while still having a much quicker move-in date than if you started from scratch.

Time to upsize

Homeowners choose to buy a larger home for a number of reasons.

“Life changes often spur the need to increase the size of the family home,” said Andy Pedersen, group vice president of marketing and merchandising for K. Hovnanian Homes in Arizona, California and Texas. “And it’s not just new babies who change the size of a family. Many families today are seeing older children moving back home or are inviting grandparents to move in,” he said. 

And if a family determines that the size or configuration of their current home doesn’t work anymore, they often discover that the costs associated with remodeling make new construction a better value, Pedersen said. He pointed out that with current interest rates, “new home construction presents an affordable opportunity to increase the size of the family’s home as well as the opportunity to take advantage of superior energy-efficient features that are part of today’s new homes.”

People sometimes find themselves upsizing when one or two key elements of their current home are too small, said Rebecca Lundberg, vice president of sales for PulteGroup’s Arizona division. For example, “we often find that people upsize to get a formal dining room, which they enjoy for entertaining, but currently don’t have,” she said. “Or perhaps they need a bigger home with a more spacious master suite.”

David Kitnick, founder and president of Rosewood Homes, and Elise Goodell, marketing manager for Maracay Homes, agree that more room to entertain is a popular motivator for upsizing a home. “Having the extra space to welcome extended family or friends is something many homebuyers are looking for,” Goodell said.

Time to downsize

Some homeowners, on the other hand, find themselves wanting less square-footage but more energy- and design-efficient space. Sometimes homeowners seek to downsize, Kitnick said, because children go off to college or leave home to start their own families. Or, buyers want to “age in place in a safer, more convenient single-story home,” he said. They may be heading toward retirement and seeking lower house payments and utility and maintenance costs. Or, “some people downsize because they want to live in a more urban environment within walking distance to cultural amenities and fine dining,” Kitnick, of Rosewood Homes, said.

Pedersen, of K. Hovnanian Homes, advises homeowners not to think of downsizing as squeezing into a really small home. “It doesn’t necessarily mean moving into a 1,300-square-foot home no matter what size home you live in now,” he said. “You can easily downsize into a 2,500-square-foot home if it better fits your needs.”

In addition, some people downsize when moving from a less expensive area to a more expensive area, Lundberg, of Pulte Homes, said. “Location drives value and when people want to be closer to retail, restaurants and entertainment, it might cost a little more,” she said. “Some people are willing to sacrifice size for location.”

Just the right size

K. Hovnanian Homes offers homes in the East Valley that are perfect for upsizers, Pedersen said. Two communities that are part of Cielo Noche in Queen Creek offer up to six bedrooms and extra-deep home sites, he said. On the northwest side of the Valley in Peoria, two neighborhoods at The Meadows offer some plans with up to five bedrooms.

Maracay Homes’ Hallmark Collection of floorplans featured at The Preserve at Hastings Farms in Queen Creek offers optional generation suites and casitas, bonus/teen/game rooms and three- to four-car garages, depending on the plan. “These may be suitable for younger, growing families or established households that might need extra space for visiting relatives, adult children who have moved back home, or aging parents,” Goodell said.

Pulte’s Lone Mountain community in Cave Creek is also ideal for those who are upsizing, Lundberg said. “This gated community is close to retail and restaurants and offers single-story homes with three- to four-car garages optional per plan.”

Meanwhile, downsizers may want to take a look at a townhome community in central Phoenix that has easy proximity to the light rail, Pedersen said. Or, if Sun City suits your lifestyle, K. Hovnanian recently opened the last community of new homes in the area with just 140 single-family homes available, he added.

Other great options for downsizers include Maracay’s Monogram Collection at Sendera Place in Chandler which is perfect for active, on-the-go residents who prefer a low-maintenance lifestyle, Goodell said. The Del Webb communities of Sun City Festival and Sun City Anthem are also both ideal for downsizers, Lundberg said. The homes in these communities are predominantly two bedrooms with a den.

Lone Tree, Pulte’s newest 55+ active-adult community in Chandler, is another terrific community for downsizers, Lundberg said. These homes are sized at two to three bedrooms (per plan with options) and offer open entertaining without wasted space.

In North Scottsdale, “our Sierra Boulders and Sierra Highlands neighborhoods appeal to both downsizers and upsizers,” Kitnick said. “They offer a variety of distinct home designs ranging from 4,100 to over 6,100 square-feet including optional casitas and guest houses.” Incentives for buying a move-in-ready home in the last two months of the year at these locations include a free 42-inch Sub-Zero refrigerator plus a $15,000 landscape allowance, Kitnick said.

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