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February 21, 2022

Your 12-Step Guide to Buying a New Home in Coastal Georgia

If you're exploring the option of buying a new construction home in Savannah, GA or its surrounding areas, chances are you’ve got some questions about how it all works. While the process does require a few more steps than buying a used home, it’s all worth it in the end. Not only do you get to select a floor plan and homesite that exactly fit your needs, you get to choose the finishes and features that you’ve always dreamed of in a new home. Here’s how Ernest Homes’ buying process typically works:

1. Obtain Mortgage Pre-Approval

Obtaining an approved construction loan is an important step in building your new home. You will start by meeting with a preferred Ernest Homes lender to discuss your options. Working with our preferred lenders affords you so many perks, including:

  • Shorter closing times (which mean faster move-in!)
  • Expertise with new home construction loans
  • Low closing costs

Choosing the best loan for you is something our preferred lenders are ready to help with! This step can require some paperwork to be completed, exploration of your financial history and credit, and discussions about what loan amount is best for your situation. This information will be helpful when you begin choosing your floor plan and homesite.

2. Choose a Homesite and a Plan

Your new home specialist is likely the first person you will meet when you walk into a model home or community sales center. He or she will work with you to select your floor plan, asking questions about how you like to live, what you want to change about your current living situation, and what your future needs are. At Ernest Homes, we offer a variety of plans with different lifestyle opportunities, and even can personalize those plans to meet your requirements. As you go through the floor plan selection process, there are a few questions you should ask yourself early on:

  • Will the size of your family change in the next few years?
  • In the future, will you want the flexibility of stairs, or will you need most of your living to be on the first floor?
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need to comfortably accommodate your family and guests?
  • Where should the bedrooms be located in the home?
  • Do you ever work from home?
  • Do you enjoy entertaining?

Knowing the answers to these questions up front will help your new home specialist narrow down the best options, and save you time in making a final selection.

The next step is deciding which community to build your floor plan in, or if you already have that narrowed down, where in the community you'd like your home to be located. Most builders typically release homesites in phases, so that they can build out one area of a community at a time, creating a neighborhood feel right from the beginning. Homesites within a phase can have lots of variety, so it's best to consider the ideal type of land for your lifestyle:

  • Do you need a flat, grassy yard for your kids to run?
  • Do you prefer mature trees for privacy or shade?
  • What would be your ideal view from a particular room in the house?
  • Would you prefer a smaller lot so you have less yard maintenance?
  • Do you prefer the privacy of a corner or cul-de-sac lot?

Again, thinking about these answers now will make the decision-making easier, allowing you to reserve your perfect homesite before anyone else does.

3. Sign Purchase Agreement

The builder will need a signed purchase agreement in order to kick off the building process. This contract will cover the basics of the decisions you've made up until this point: floor plan, homesite, address, price, items that are included with the home, and any special conditions. It will also include timelines for selections, deposits, and the construction process itself, so that your build stays on schedule. Lastly, the contract will include the contact information for key people you'll need to communicate with along the way. Once all parties sign off, the purchase agreement serves as a guide to getting your house built on time and within budget!

4. Secure Financing

Once you have signed the purchase agreement, you will finalize your financing details based on what you've decided with your lender.

5. Design Studio Selection Process

It's time for some fun! A builder typically allows homebuyers to make some or all finish selections, so that their home is a true reflection of their style. At Ernest Homes, you'll work with a professional interior designer in our Design Studio to select cabinets, flooring, light fixtures, paint colors, exterior elevations, landscaping, and more.

A useful tip is to keep a record of your favorite interior looks — that could be magazine clippings or Instagram photos saved to a folder. It's best to go into your design appointment having an idea of what you like; that way, your designer can present a few options that really hit the mark. By working with a professional designer, you'll have the benefit and peace of mind knowing that everything you selected will work together cohesively in your home.

6. Plans Drawn/Engineering, Permitting, Estimating

In this step, we pour over every detail of your new home and develop final building plans. Project managers and the permit team are working on engineering plans and making sure the proper paperwork is filed with all municipalities. The design team is also collecting material options that fit the style, flow, and — most importantly — budget of the home. We’ll present the final plans so that you can start to envision every room, every outdoor feature, every square foot of your new property.

7. Pre-Construction Meeting

Before construction begins, you will meet with your project manager and designer to review the home plan, all selections, and how the home will sit on your homesite. We want to make sure we’ve double checked all the details before we break ground.

8. Construction Begins

By the time construction starts, all your selections have been finalized, pricing has been set, and agreements have been signed. Pouring the foundation of your dream home is one of life's most exciting moments! Throughout the process, your project manager will keep you in the loop with updates and developments, often through a weekly email or phone call. You’ll also participate in a series of walk-throughs to make sure you are satisfied with the progress. Construction times vary depending on the level of customization, but the wait is always worth it.

9. Quality Control

Before new home orientation, we conduct multiple check points and perform quality control tasks and inspections to ensure your new home is as perfect as possible.

10. New Home Orientation

At last, you get to walk through the doors of your completed home! During the homeowner orientation, your project and warranty managers will take you through every square foot of your home and property, demonstrating how your systems work and answering any questions you have.

11. Closing

After your new home orientation, and once your builder has your final sign-off, you’ll close on your new home, receive the keys, and move into the dream home you’ve worked so hard for!

12. Welcome Home!

Throw a moving party, start shopping for furniture, or just relax in your new space knowing you deserve every bit of this gorgeous new home.

Have questions about the home buying process? We’d love to help! Contact us to schedule a phone call or an in-person appointment.

We're open! Our models are now open during normal hours, however, we are still offering virtual and private appointments. Contact us today to schedule!

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