You want to find the home that’s right for you and the builder who provides the best overall value and service. Home buyers and professional home builders agree there are a number of things you can do to make the buying process enjoyable and successful.

Do your research
Know what you want, what’s available and how the buying process works before you start thinking seriously about signing a contract. Consult with family, friends and co-workers. Check the Internet. Most importantly, visit model homes and Design Centers and talk with builders and salespeople.

Pre-Qualify your mortgage
If you plan to borrow funds to finance your home purchase, talk to your lender about mortgages early in the process. Knowing in advance how much you can spend comfortably and getting pre-approval for a mortgage means you can proceed from “just looking” to a signed contract with confidence.

Check the builder’s qualifications
There are many reputable, professional builders in the industry who provide great homes and great service. As you talk with builders or their salespeople, ask a few questions: How long has the company been in business? Is it a member of the local Home Builders’ Association? Will the builder give you references? What after-sales service does the builder offer? “Personal fit” is also important: Does the builder (or salesperson) listen to you? Understand your needs? Offer useful advice? Do you feel confident that the company would be good to work with?

As simple as it sounds, researching a builder is often overlooked by consumers, yet is probably the most important thing to do when purchasing a new home. Ask the builder for a list of references of recently completed homes. A home is usually the largest single purchase that one makes so when choosing your builder, choose wisely by doing your homework.

In the end, the quality of your home depends on the quality of your builder. When you buy a new home, you also buy the company’s reputation in the community, its track record with past clients and its commitment to customers. That adds up to extra confidence and reassurance for you.

Check the home carefully
Whether a builder has a model home, a sales office or sells directly from drawings and plans, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to look closely at the quality of the builder’s home and what’s included. The builder’s “spec” list will detail the construction materials and finishing products. Ask to see a description, and samples, of the standard features included in the base price of the house, along with the description and cost of options the builder offers. When viewing a model home, don’t hesitate to try out windows, open drawers and look into every nook and cranny- the builder wants you to be convinced of the home’s quality and solidity.

Understand the total cost of buying
Get detailed prices and estimates on everything involved in building a home. Be sure to get a list of standard features and review what features are included. It’s difficult to compare builders side by side if you take the “price per square foot approach.” What is included by one builder may be an additional cost for another. Be sure you know what you’re getting as included features and make sure it’s in writing.