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I have some great tips on saving money if you’re buying a new construction home in San Antonio!

First, we will talk about ways that new construction home costs & sales prices can add up quickly. Then, I’ll tell you some of the best tips to save money on your new construction home in San Antonio.

San Antonio home prices surging and interest rates are not making any significant improvement. Everybody is looking for the BEST deals on homes. Right now, new construction homes in San Antonio are where you can find the best deals! Let’s talk about when, where and how to find the best deals on a brand new home in San Antonio.

Home Affordability in San Antonio

Let’s start with affordability. I know there are lots of people that see these sales prices and laugh at the word “affordability!”

You’re not wrong. How are these prices actually affordable? But, this is what we are working with. Market values are not drastically changing anytime in the foreseeable future. So for right now we’re using the term “most affordable”.

New Construction Starter Homes in San Antonio

For this conversation, let’s use a benchmark for affordable as the Low $200k – $350k range. These new construction homes in San Antonio are going to be from the high production builders. They focus on building a large number of homes. The customizable options in these homes are very limited, as the builder makes all selections for floorplans, elevations, colors, and materials before the home is even built.

They do usually have simplified/streamlined build process since every home is pretty much built the same, and they basically have their build processes locked in. The use of basic materials, built on smaller lot sizes, and not having the expense of changing designs, makes these homes more cost effective to build and more affordable to buy.

Mid-Level Production Builders in San Antonio

In the $350k-$800k range, there are still Production builders, but they are usually higher quality. This is where you start to see more semi-custom options. Inventory or ready homes are usually available (which basically means the builder has already picked floorplan, picked lot, the elevation, the finish outs, fixtures, etc.)

They are typically built before they have a buyer for that home (or maybe buyer fell through). Non-inventory or to-be-built homes, usually will have specific options that you can select (depending on the phase of construction) such as lot, floor plan, elevation choices, countertops, lighting, flooring, fixtures.)

Custom & Luxury Builders in San Antonio

In the $800k+ range, especially when you’re over the $1M sales price, is when you are more able to have the freedom of fully customizing your floorplan, and selecting every detail of your dream home.

How big are lots for new construction homes?

Let’s talk about specific lots and lot size options for new construction homes.

Especially in the starter price ranges, most of the homes are built on lots that are 40 ft wide. Then you’ll have 5 ft build lines on each side, so the home itself will take up 30 ft of that space. This is what can give these homes the appearance of looking so close together, or cookie cutter type homes. This was all developed and planned intentionally and made to be the more affordable options for people. These floorplans are typically smaller square footage, 1200-1600 sq ft.

As you move up to the semi-custom levels, you will see some of the lot widths increase to 50 – 65 ft. These larger lot sizes will usually allow for larger square footage floorplans. These homes feel more open, the kitchen & living areas will of course be more opened and spacious. Primary bedrooms tend to have more space, bay windows, larger walk in closets. These lots are usually also when you start to see 3 car garages.

Beware of the Model

It’s easy to walk through a builder’s model home and fall completely in love! They will usually choose their most popular floorplan, with allll of the upgrades and features that you could possibly add from the design center. It is perfectly decorated and staged to make you really be able to imagine yourself living there.

This is the absolute best form of marketing, right? Some people can find this as deceptive, but just keep in mind that the model is just somewhat of an example where the builder can showcase their skills and what they are capable of building. It’s important to make sure that you use the model as a way to observe what that builder’s finish out could look like, but not to assume that every home will compare.

And, when you consider the cost that they spend on those upgrades in the model, you probably wouldn’t love the idea of adding those thousands onto your sales price!

What is the base price of the model?

I typically do to help my buyers here and my best advice to you is that when you go into the model, ask questions. What is the base price of this floorplan? What is the amount in upgrades from the design center? Compare to other inventory homes of that floorplan & how much in upgrades those homes have. If you’re considering a dirt build, this will give you an idea of what you would want to spend when you design your home.

Can a Realtor help you save money on new construction in San Antonio?

Should I use a Realtor when buying a new home in San Antonio? I see this question floating around on social media a lot, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Here are a few different scenarios for you:

  • “I’ll visit the sales office first and see where I want to build and then talk to my realtor.” This isn’t effective for 2 reasons. #1 is that your realtor (especially if you find a new construction expert), is there to help you as the expert to use your needs & wants to narrow down your options and save you the work of going from sales office to sales office. That process can be exhausting for you & confusing as all the information that you receive and homes that you see can start to run together and make the decision process even more difficult. The #2 reason is that once you go into a sales office, and if you register your info while you’re there (which usually they require you to do) you are typically not going to be allowed to have a realtor represent you later, if you decide to buy a home with that builder.
  • Another common misconception is that you will save money on the purchase price or be able to negotiate the price if you don’t have a realtor. And that is also not true. Most builders have the cost of buyer representation already included in their price, and they don’t usually change the price if you don’t have a realtor. It’s also important to know that a new construction specialist will be able to use existing relationships with sales reps to help you find those amazing deals.

Hiring an experienced realtor is one of the best ways to save money on new construction in San Antonio!

Consider the Cost of Elevations

When it comes to elevations, just remember that is the exterior presentation. So, a builder may have anywhere from 5-40 floorplans, and each floorplan may have 3-5 different elevations available. They may have different roof lines or peaks, different types of textures & materials used (stucco, brick, stone, etc.), different window placement, added columns or covered porches.

This sometimes can be pre-selected by the builder, and many developers have pre-set rules on how close together the same floorplan & elevation can be to another. This is to avoid the appearance of the cookie cutter neighborhood. Either way this is another selection that could add up, depending on how basic or detailed you decide to go.

Who is the BEST Builder in San Antonio?

One of the most popular questions that I get is, “which builder is the best builder in San Antonio?” There’s not one easy answer. It’s really going to come down to which builder is going to be the best builder for you?

Most buyers don’t start the process with picking a builder. We start with determining an area of San Antonio that is going to be the best fit for you, and then narrowing it down even further by price point.

Every single builder within each different community that they build is going to have pros & cons, within that specific community. They all have different building standards, price points, floorplans, and quality standards. When we start to discuss your options, we’re going to narrow it down by price point and main section of the San Antonio area first.

Everyone has Different Needs

Everyone has different goals and expectations with their homes. For example, if you’re a family moving to San Antonio because you’re PCSing to Lackland. You want to be within a quick commute, have a highly rated schools and spend less than $450k and you’re more interested in square footage and space rather than luxury features.

Your options are going to be completely different than If you’re a retiree that is moving to San Antonio & you’re downsizing your home because you’re kids are adults. You want to be a little further out of the busy traffic of San Antonio. And your budget is 700k, and you would rather spend your money on luxury features & high quality finishes in a smaller footprint.

Obviously, 2 totally different scenarios and 2 different sets of needs expectations to work out.

Inspections on New Construction Homes

Let’s talk about New home inspections. The type of inspection that you are able to get is going to depend on what phase of the build process you are in. If you build from dirt, you are able to get an inspection done at each of these phases (of course you do have a charge for each time an inspection is done).

  • Phase 1 or pre-slab inspection – inspect the post tension cables, plumbing components the day before slab pour.
  • Phase 2 or mechanical inspection – pre drywall before insulation. The inspector is checking to make sure everything looks good in between the walls, plumbing, electrical, framing.
  • Phase 3 or the final inspection – same as a resale. of course there is no perfect home, but you definitely want to have an extra set of eyes on the home that you’re buying to make sure there are no major issues. Which, even if you buy a home that is completed already, at the very least you should have this final inspection done.

You will also be able to do a blue-tape walk through, with your realtor as a second set of eyes, about a week before closing to point out any cosmetic flaws or workmanship issues that need to be resolved before closing.

While the inspection won’t really save money on San Antonio new construction home up front, it could save you from costly repairs later!

Home Builder Warranties

When it comes to builder warranties on the home , they do all vary on what is covered, and of course their warranty process. You will usually see a 1 year warranty to cover workmanship & quality issues within the home. There will be a 2 year warranty for mechanicals, such as plumbing and electrical issues. And, a 10 year warranty to include structural items, such as foundation, brick & frame. It is important to note that this warranty does not typically cover driveways or sidewalks.

Save Money on New Construction in San Antonio

Now let’s get to the good stuff, which is how to find the best deals on new construction in San Antonio.

San Antonio housing market conditions are going to play a huge role in the prices on these brand new homes. During the crazy market years of 2021 and 2022, it was common to see price increases from the builders on a weekly basis. But now, because there are so many new developments and they have built so much inventory, we are seeing more and more price reductions.

Every builder is of course different on pricing strategy, some will heavily discount the prices up front and you’ll see the lowest price already listed and they can’t negotiate on that price much. Some will leave the inflated sales price and once we get into the sales office we may be able to negotiate anywhere from 10k-50k off of the sales price.

This is where it also is important to have a new construction expert with you to help you figure these things out and know which builders we can negotiate with.

Builder/Lender Incentives

Another great incentive that many builders are using right now is interest rate buy downs. You’ll find that there are several different options for this, each with different terms. But, these incentives can really help with your payments. This can also really help to increase your buying power!

In addition to that, many builders are currently offering to cover a portion, if not ALL of the closing costs of their homes. When you consider that closing costs as a buyer are usually anywhere from 2-3% of the sales price, this can also be a huge savings to you!

Some builders will offer an incentive of “flex cash” which gives you the option of where you want to use your savings. Either by reducing the sales price, buying down the rate or lowering the closing costs. But some builders are offering all of the above.

Save Money on New Construction Homes in San Antonio with Inventory Homes

Completed, (or nearly complete) inventory homes are another great way to save money on new construction homes in San Antonio. The builders want these homes out of their inventory ASAP! The longer they have them, the more they have to pay on taxes, insurance and potentially HOA fees. So, they are costing them money, and they want them gone.

A builder is likely to discount a home that is ready, but not at all likely to discount a home that won’t be ready for 10-12 months. So, if you are flexible with some of the features and not concerned with being able to customize any of the features, then these can be an incredible opportunity to save a lot of money on a new build.

Currently, there are plenty of these ready homes available. And that’s where you’ll really benefit from buying a brand new home in San Antonio. You can check out inventory (or quick move-in) homes in San Antonio here.

Close Out Communities in San Antonio

Another great way to save money on new construction in San Antonio that is often overlooked, is to find a community that is either just getting started, or is in the close-out phase. Many builders offer their best promotional pricing at the beginning and end of a community phase.

Moving to San Antonio, Texas?

If you are moving your family to San Antonio this year, you’ve come to the right place! As a San Antonio Relocation Specialist and New Construction expert, I help families relocate to San Antonio from all over the country.

I’m here to minimize the stress from your move to San Antonio and help you plan the step-by-step that you need for a smoother relocation. You can start by getting your San Antonio Relocation Guide here.

Let’s chat soon!

~ Tammy Dominguez, San Antonio Realtor & Relocation Specialist