Getting ready to buy a brand-new house? Moving into a home that no one has ever lived in before is incredibly exciting. So is picking out all your finishes so everything really suits you. But there are several important factors to keep in mind when it comes to the upgrades and options that are offered by the builder, starting with the fact that anything you choose beyond what is considered “standard” will raise the price of the home.

1. The home price is just the starting point

Have you fallen in love with a model home that’s all decked out with sleek countertops and fancy appliances and hand-scraped floors and elaborate window coverings? Depending on where you’re buying, you may have to pay more for some – or all – of what you see in the models. The “standard” home is typically a much more stripped-down version than what you’re shown in the model complex.

Want to make changes to the floorplan or select higher-end finishes? Be prepared to pay for them. “A surprisingly large amount of the money you spend on your new home will be determined by the options and choices you make,” said NewHomeSource.

2. You may be limited in the options you can choose

If you have something specific in mind and you don’t see it offered by the builder, always ask your real estate agent or the sales professional in the new-home community. Depending on how flexible they are, you might be able to negotiate custom-ordered items into your home. Or, it may turn out you’ll have to compromise, or add in the items after the home is finished… which isn’t always such a bad thing.

3. It might make sense to hold back a little

Two more great benefits of adding upgrades from the builder:

  • The work is done before you move in.
  • The upgrades are included in the builder’s warranty.

However, you definitely pay for those conveniences. If you price compare some of the items you’re looking at adding, like countertops or flooring, you might find that you can get them for much less elsewhere. Many of the upgrades offered by builders are huge profit centers for them. If you’re willing to go through some renovations after you take possession of the home and either pay out of pocket or finance those options elsewhere, you could save some money.

4. You can roll your upgrades into your mortgage

But, having to spend thousands of dollars out of pocket for upgrades after you’ve just spent so much money on your new house may not seem ideal. An added benefit to handling your upgrades through the builder is that you can roll the added costs right into your mortgage instead of having to deal with a separate payment that might have a higher interest rate. The payment may be nominal – $10,000 in upgrades could cost you about $50 a month. But, you’ll have to make sure that the additional cost doesn’t push you over your loan approval amount.

5. You may have to go back to your lender for more money

If the new home you’re buying is already at the top of what you’ve qualified for and you’re raising the overall price with thousands of dollars of upgrades, a conversation with your lender is in order. If you can’t raise your qualification amount, you’ll have to whittle down those upgrades.

6. Not all upgrades will bring you ROI

Making smart choices is key when picking your upgrades, because not only do you want to create a home that suits your needs, style, and taste, but you also want to make sure the money you’re spending will pay you back when you go to sell someday. Yes, thinking about selling a new home you’re just now buying may seem odd, but it’s all about return on investment (ROI). If you’re not thinking about it when you’re spending your money, you might not get that money back later on.

When considering where to spend, concentrate on the kitchen first. “The kitchen is the heart of the home, the spot where you will spend the majority of your time and make the most memories,” said NewHomeSource. “It can never be overly well equipped. Pay special attention to cabinets and appliances, as this is what future buyers will focus on, as well as the tools you will use every day.”


Written by Jaymi Naciri