Check out some of our editor’s favorite blog articles from the archives

The 5 Ws of Building a Custom Home

We’d like to think that building a dream home is like building a LEGO home or a house on the Sims, except we all know that’s not the case. Building a custom home is a lot of work, but the rewards are pretty incomparable.

We’ve talked about the differences between buying and building a home in past blogs. But if you’re finding yourself more ready to take the leap, there are some essential questions to answer. RealtyHive takes a look at the who, what, where, when, why, and how of home building to help get you started.

Who should build a house?

You’d be a good candidate to build a house if you:

  • Meet all the financial criteria of home ownership
  • Are you looking to live in a developing area
  • Are excited by the idea of building
  • See an opportunity where the building is more beneficial than buying
  • Need or want a custom home (and buying an existing home and renovation would be more expensive).

You don’t have to meet everything on that list to qualify for building a home, it’s more of a guideline. If you have no desire to build, there’s no reason to force yourself to. However, if the type of home you’re looking for is so custom that it’s impossible to find (or way more expensive to renovate), then maybe you should consider the building after all.

What’s the cost difference between buying and building a home?

It depends. In most cases, buying a house is cheaper than building, but that’s not a guarantee. There are plenty of instances where people buy a house that needs a lot of work, and the renovations + house cost ends up costing more than if they had just built.

How do you pay for house building?

When it comes to building, you can get a construction loan that only requires you to pay the interest during the building process. The rest of the loan rolls into your actual mortgage at closing. If you’re worried that you can’t afford to build a house, just know that the payment process isn’t all that different from buying.

Plus, some states offer tax credits to alleviate some of the expenses that automatically apply for homeowners, but homeowners who built their home have to apply for. Homeowners in Wisconsin, for example, get a tax credit through the lottery system. Those who had their home built can get this same credit, but they have to send a form to do so. Do some research on what rebates exist in your state.

There’s another hack that many people are unaware of: you don’t have to put everything in all at once. Adding some things now that can set up for later is a huge cost (and time) saver. For example:

  • Don’t add air conditioning yet, but get forced air heating. Adding A/C later on is extremely easy if you already have forced air.
  • Don’t build the deck right now, but do install a patio door for it.

Where’s a good place to build a custom home?

Building locations depend from state to state — even if you own land, you’ll likely have to consult with local municipalities about building (or contact a general contractor with insight on building permits).

In the case of subdivisions, there are a couple things to note:

  • Builder exclusivity: Some subdivisions only allow you to use certain builders.
  • Restrictive covenants: You’ll have to play by the subdivision’s rules. Often this means no sheds or outbuildings or that your home exterior has to meet certain requirements (i.e. siding colors or incorporating brick for one-fourth of the exterior). 

When is the best time to build a house?

If time is of the essence, spring or summer is a good time to build. Except, of course, if you live in warmer climates, in which case winter might actually be more ideal.

However, if you’re not in a rush, you might want to talk to a building company about starting in the fall. In extremely cold climates, they might be unable to work through the winter. But the benefit to starting in the fall is that work and demand slow down a ton, which could lower your costs.

Why should you build a house?

Other than the appeal of building a custom home, there are several other reasons why people go this route:

  • Building for the future: You can create a highly sustainable, environmentally-friendly smart house from the start.
  • Meets your needs: Did you know that nearly 13% of the population has a disability? Not to mention, most of us eventually need adaptive assistance as we get older. Most homes are built assuming that homeowners can walk up and down stairs or have functioning hearing or vision. Building a custom home means many homeowners can have a home that truly adapts to their needs.
  • Houses are still in demand: The population continues to grow, and people need space to live. 

How do you get started?

You’ll want to have a general outline in mind. How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Two-story, ranch, or split-level? How big of a plot are you looking for? In a subdivision or out in the country? What’s your time frame?

Next, do some research on building teams in the area (if building in a subdivision, talk to them directly). They’ll help you narrow down what you’re looking for and what they can provide, and hopefully have a crew that includes a surveyor, engineer, plumber, and electrician. They will help you clear the land to prepare the area as well.

But before you can jump into any of that, you need land to build on! Look through RealtyHive to find vacant land for sale, and best of luck in your building process.

Why we won’t back down

Seeing the opportunity in hard times

In times of uncertainty it can be easy to hunker down and hide. Seeing the trouble and panic of yesterday leads many to think that tomorrow will be filled with more of the same. It’s okay to be anxious with what we’re seeing, or not seeing,  in the market now. It’s uncertain and it’s human nature to react with hesitancy; if nothing feels the same as it was yesterday, it follows that we should not act as we did yesterday. But this pattern of panic and inaction is not conducive to growth or recovery. What is important now is to have a plan of action. 

RealtyHive began in another time of deep societal unease. Our Time-Limited Events were developed in response to the industry downturn during the Great Recession. We saw the plight of sellers and professionals who had properties they needed to sell, but no way to stand out and reach those who were still interested in buying. For these folks, giving up wasn’t an option and neither was holding on to the properties for longer. The industry was reeling, the market was in shambles, and it would have been easy to give up. We easily could’ve just said that no one was buying real estate and could’ve sat back and watched the industry fall into ever deeper trenches. Instead, we made a plan, executed that plan, and were able to help thousands of sellers and professionals create the property exposure needed to sell then, just as we intend to do now. 

At RealtyHive, we’re continuing to showcase properties to interested buyers in the safest and smartest ways possible. We understand that while many are worried about what the future may hold, now is the time to be prepared for whatever may come next.  We’re proud to be able to offer contactless digital marketing options to agents and sellers as well all work through this tough time together.   

The situation we’re faced with is different for everyone. Many people are facing economic hardships and that is not something to be taken lightly, however for those fortunate enough to have income security, this could be a great time to buy real estate. 

The historically low mortgage rates we’re seeing right now offer an incredible opportunity for buyers and the technology available means that buyers can see properties without ever having to leave their couch. From virtual tours and video walkthroughs to e-signing documents and online meetings, the tools we have mean that we can carry on with business in a safe and productive way. 

Uncertainty is not limited to those buying properties. While RealtyHive always showcases the properties of motivated sellers, now more than ever we encourage you to take a look at the properties available through RealtyHive Time-Limited Events

We recently added a new tool to help buyers and sellers get the most value out of their real estate buying or selling experience. Cashifyd is a new program we’ve developed to connect consumers with agents who offer cashback at closing. This helps minimize the money needed to close on a property, freeing that cash up for other uses. This program is free for buyers and sellers and allows you to connect with an agent and start your real estate process without leaving your home. 

 As we weave through these unprecedented times together, it comes down to the way we respond to the challenges we face. We chose to confront these challenges and continue to build for the future and welcome you to reach out and let us know how we can assist in continuing your real estate goals.

What Does Buying in a Time-Limited Event Look Like?

Most of us know (or at least have a general idea) how the traditional house-buying process works. But what happens if you’re looking to buy in a time-limited event? Are things drastically different? Should you plan on walking up to the house with briefcases full of cash like something out of a Scorsese film?

The good news is it’s a lot simpler than you think, and many things stay the same. You have two options when it comes to time-limited events.

Time-Limited Event Option #1: Offer Before or After

One option that buyers have is to make an offer before or after an event takes place. In this case, you go through the same process as a traditional home purchase. Contingencies, home inspections, showings — it’s all the same.

But just as is true with the traditional process of buying a house, the seller can reject your offer. And in terms of financing, it’s good to note that certain loans (such as FHA or USDA loans) might not qualify for various properties. Any houses up for sale in a time-limited event that don’t meet certain requirements (like having lead paint or not having a working furnace) won’t be approved.

Time-Limited Event Option #2: Wait Until the Day Of

The day of the event, you can place a bid and submit a letter of intent. On our site, this is found in the “documents” tab of the property. You’ll be able to see bids from other interested buyers. If your bid is accepted by the seller, you’ll buy the property as-is.

A few things to note:

You won’t get any inspections and cannot write any contingencies.

In a time-limited event, you’re purchasing the property as it currently stands. While you can schedule an appointment to look over the property before the event, you can’t get an inspection and you can’t back out if you suddenly see a ton of issues with the place. If your bid is accepted, it’s final.

Sellers choose which bid they want to accept.

In most auctions, the largest amount of money offered is the winning bid. The property will go to that highest bidder. This is not the case with a time-limited event.

In TLEs, sellers get to review the offers and have the final say (one of the many reasons a TLE is so beneficial for selling property). They might choose the highest bid, but they might also go with whatever seems like the best offer.

Based on the above scenario, you can see why a seller would be motivated to go for a lower bid price if it means less hassle.

Benefits to Buying in a Time-Limited Event

When buying with RealtyHive you gain access to:

  • A marketplace of motivated sellers
  • An opportunity for cash back at closing
  • A chance to purchase before auction event
  • The potential for an expedited closing process

Ready to get your feet wet? Look through our listings and place your bid (or pre-event offer) today!

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Top 5 reasons you NEED an Agent when buying a home

Thanks to the internet, you can learn almost anything. While this is a great benefit, there’s a huge difference between knowing how to technically do something and knowing how to do it well. YouTube is filled with fail videos that prove the difference between knowing how to do something versus having the expertise to do it well. Buying a property is a much bigger commitment and investment than trimming your bangs, for example, but the consequences are similar. In either case doing it yourself can work out well or can cost you significantly more time, money, and heartache than you intended. Here are the top reasons to hire an agent when buying a home.

They Have Your Best Interest In Mind

The absolute best reason to have an agent assist you in buying a home is that they are licensed professionals who have a contractual obligation to put your best interests first. While an agent who is listing the property you’re interested in can draft up all the documents you’d need to complete the purchase, they are in fact, working for the seller. Having an agent working for you will mean that they are negotiating on your behalf and trying to do what is best for you, even if it results in a lower commission for themselves.

They don’t cost you anything

As the buyer of a property, you generally don’t pay anything for the using the services of your real estate agent. Property sellers are the ones who pay all agents in a transaction. Some sellers will price their home higher to account for these costs, but negotiating the final sale price is part of what an agent can do for you.

There’s a lot at stake

In most cases, buying real estate is going to be the largest, most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. How can you be sure you’re making the right choice and not getting suckered into buying a Money Pit home? What happens if you accidentally transpose the address and on paper, you just “bought” a home that the owner wasn’t selling? Having an agent representing you means that you’ll get sound recommendations on things like what kind of inspections you should have and who should do them and the errors and omissions insurance carried by real estate brokerages covers you in the event of a typo.

They do this every day

For most people, buying a house is a few-in-a-lifetime experience. The day you sign the closing papers will be a day you clearly remember, but for your agent, it’s likely just another day. While your agent will be excited for you, for them it’s business as usual, which is great news for you! This experience means they know how to handle unusual circumstances and they know what to look out for to make sure you’re getting a fair deal. In a straightforward transaction this experience might not seem that important, but this knowledge will be invaluable for situations that pop-up without warning.

They have tools you don’t

How do you know if a property is fairly priced? While the internet has some good tools for consumers to use, real estate agents have access to a lot of information that isn’t publicly available. They can tell you when the home you’re looking at was last sold and for what price, what comparable homes are going for in the area, and how this property stacks up. This can help raise red flags and let you know what to dig into more. For example, if the same home has been sold three times in the last two years or if a home sold for dramatically less than it previously had, you’re going to want to find out why.

Ready to get started? Find a top-rated local agent who will give you a cash back credit at closing by checking the newest RealtyHive program, Cashifyd.