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Northeast IN Real Estate Blog

How To Buy A House That Hasn't Been Built Yet

Trisha and Dennis Rawlings, a couple in their early 30s, are moving to suburban Chicago and leaving their over-60-year-old first home in the St. Louis area behind.

“We were looking at potentially buying a house,” Trisha says. But in the area where they want to live, the options within their budget were limited to purchasing an older home or building a new one.

The couple loved the features of a modern, new-construction neighborhood with a pool, a clubhouse and excellent walkability. And taking out a construction loan and building a house means they’ll avoid the ongoing maintenance that comes with an older home.

With the supply of existing homes available to buy at “an all-time low” nationwide, according to the National Association of Realtors, homebuyers like the Rawlingses and others — including younger buyers — are looking at other options that include building a house. Here’s how to get started if you decide to build a home.

Finding a construction loan

“It all starts with your ability to be financed and what kind of budget can you establish from there,” says Dan Moralez, regional vice president for Northpointe Bank in Holland, Michigan. “You don’t want to be sold something by somebody and then the next thing you find out is that you don’t qualify.”

But not every mortgage banker or broker offers construction loans.

“Most mortgage people will go their whole career without ever doing one,” says Jerry Thomas, a mortgage loan officer in Farmington Hills, Michigan. “Another big group of (lenders) will do one and then swear they’ll never do another one again.”

There’s...