Stay open to new locations – The Mercury News


When it comes to buying a new construction home, choices of communities abound. All a buyer needs to do is keep an open mind about the possibilities.

Of course, within some communities, builders are down to their final few homes, which reduces a buyer’s choices of lots, even as it increases the chances of upgrades and options already added to move-in-ready homes.

But when analyzing the locations for new construction — everything from lot size, home orientation to street size, street type, neighborhoods, cities and counties — a few key steps can help homebuyers determine the best places to start their lives in a new home.

Begin with the must-haves

Before visiting communities in person, determine which ones have any of the location aspects you require.

For instance, young newlyweds or expectant parents may prefer a homesite on an interior street or even a court or cul-de-sac.

A retiree may crave a low-maintenance property near community amenities and city features, including a clubhouse, a pool or nearby dining and shopping.

An aerial view or diagram of each community’s site plan and available homes will show available lots relative to other parts of the neighborhood or town. Many will also note the locations — or future locations — of shared amenities such as walking paths, community centers, pools, schools, shopping and more.

If proximity to transit or freeways is a deciding factor, determine what kinds of commutes you’re willing to consider. Many builders offer new-home communities a short distance from transit, including BART, ACE (East Bay), SMART (Sonoma-Marin) and Caltrain (San Francisco to Gilroy).

Our Map Guide in our Saturday Homes and Sunday Homes sections show where new-home communities are available. Go ahead and hang up the print version for reference as your search gets further underway. Mark points of interest within a 50-mile radius on the same map.

Expand the list of choices

Think about how many years you expect to live in the new home you’ll purchase. Will today’s needs still be relevant five or 10 years from now?

Whether millennial, Gen Z, boomer or octogenarian-plus, a buyer whose mind is set on a certain style or location of home may find unexpected benefits of other home plans and community types.

For instance, even if a single-family detached home in the suburbs sounds perfect, keep your mind open to other possibilities. An amenity-filled condominium or townhome community may offer all you’re looking for and more.

The same can be said of the city dweller who initially shuns the suburbs. They may discover beauty in space to stretch out, especially if still able to work from home.

Keep your mind open to every possibility. Avoid ruling out any community until after you explore each of their options, amenities and comforts.

In allowing yourself more choices, you may find home plans or community features in locations that would fit or enhance your lifestyle in ways you hadn’t imagined.

Visit Bay Area News Group’s New Homes Guide regularly on Saturdays and Sundays. Follow builders in areas that interest you on social media.

Plan some daytrips

Why not take a road trip to visit some of the new-home communities? Using the pin-marked Map Guide, take time off to visit communities.

Avoid planning to visit more than two communities on a single day. Doing so may limit the depth of conversations you can have with builders or the number of model homes you can visit.

The purchase of a new construction home is an investment in the new home’s surrounding community. Plan to stop for a meal or some shopping near each new-home community.

Make a family adventure out of it if more than one generation will be making the eventual move into a brand new home. Some builders and their communities host holiday events and welcome center festivities. These can give new-home buyers a chance to meet the neighbors and tour the neighborhoods.

Remove boundaries for the long term

Reflect on how weekends will be spent for the next five years, 10 years or 20. Then consider the terrain, especially if you’re the outdoorsy type.

Sure, there’s plenty of variation in terrain within the core Bay Area counties. But if larger lots and more mixed terrain are calling you, then include some of the more distant counties on a new-home-tour daytrip or weekend getaway.

Different sets of hills, valleys, mountains, water, wine country, agriculture, historic downtowns and newly emerging city centers await beyond the Bay Area.

For ideas, check our regular series of Beyond the Bay sections that feature new-home communities at various distances from the Bay Area.

Take a winter break and enjoy some new-home tour treks to each location.



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