Here are some tactics would-be buyers can follow to save thousands of dollars on a brand-new home.
1. Be the First Buyer -- or the Last Buyer
Developing a new neighborhood often takes many years. The first buyers will have to deal with all the headaches that come with living in a subdivision under construction: constant truck traffic, nonexistent lawns, and few neighbors. As more houses are sold, the development attracts more attention, and it becomes easier for the developer to sell more homes.
For this reason, builders are willing to offer better deals to early buyers. If you can accept the headaches that nearby construction can bring, buying the first house in a new subdivision is a great way to save money.
Somewhat paradoxically, buyers can also get great deals on the last house. By that point, builders are eager to wrap up the project and move on, and will be more willing to cut a deal if you're buying the last home in a newly built subdivision.
2. Buy a Model
Sometimes, though not always, the last house for sale in a development is a model home. If you've been shopping for a new house, you've probably walked through dozens of model homes -- those houses builders construct on the edge of new subdivisions to show buyers what they'll be getting.
Technically, these are new houses in the sense that no one has ever lived in them. But hundreds of people have walked through them, and they probably served as offices for the builder's salesman.
But if you're OK buying a home that might be best characterized as "gently used," models are typically cheaper than similar new homes, and they usually come with upgrades.
3. Buy in November or December
The holiday season is notoriously slow for home sales. Most would-be buyers are occupied with other activities, and in colder climates, the weather makes shopping for a new home generally less pleasant than at other times of year.
If you are willing to buy in November or December, you'll be the exception -- giving you the advantage. Builders may be more likely to offer incentives, or cut a better deal. If you can put off your purchase, next November might be your best time to buy.
4. Know What You Want Before You Get Started
One of the greatest advantages of buying a new home is getting to make decisions about details: carpet or wood flooring, fireplace or not, window treatments, light fixtures -- new buyers generally get to pick all these things and more.
But building a new home can take months, and with such a long wait, buyers will often change their minds about what they want. Unfortunately, having to make changes is costly -- redoing a floor or swapping out window treatments can tack thousands of dollars onto the final price of the home.
If you're dead set on a making a radical change to your new home, it's better to do it during construction than afterward, but know that making changes after the process has gotten under way will cost you.
Enjoy Your New Home
A home is one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make. In the end, the most important thing is getting a house that suits your needs -- one that fits your family, but also your budget. These tips might not be practical for everyone, but those who can put them to use will get themselves a better deal.
Sam Mattera is a contributing writer to The Motley Fool.