Thursday, October 29, 2015

Initial NVR Meeting

Mortgage Meeting

Well we had our first meeting with our NVR Mortgage rep, Steve.  NVR is Ryan's sister company for all things mortgage-related.

Not really too much to say about it.  We did our initial paperwork for our full mortgage application, which everyone knows is A LOT of paperwork, followed by a ton of back-and-forth e-mails/phone calls on things/additional paperwork to get all of the little pieces in place.  Since there's about a million different pieces, it's understandably a long and somewhat invasive process.  I say this because they are looking at information that is very private - bank statements, credit reports, employment information, etc.  So we're at a point now where we've got everything in (I think), and we are just waiting on underwriting/final approval.

Couple things to note...

First, our NVR rep, Steve, was fantastic to deal with.  This is my first mortgage so I had a lot of questions.  He was very patient with me and we actually met face-to-face twice and exchanged countless e-mails.  He has spent several hours with me to answer my questions and to explain the loan application process, and also presented us with several initial mortgage options that we could look at.  He has been very understanding of our budget, wants, and needs.

Now, I will tell you that when you build a home with Ryan Homes, you have only 45 days to secure a mortgage commitment (whether it be from NVR, or a mortgage company of your choosing).  If you don't have a committed lender in 45 days, you default on the deal and forfeit your deposit money with Ryan.  If you elect to apply with NVR, you don't have to worry about that.  And if for some reason NVR denies you, then you have the option to cancel the deal with Ryan AND get your deposit money back.  You do not HAVE to apply with NVR, but you should because it won't hurt anything and it doesn't automatically commit you to anything with them.  You can still apply with other banks and if you're ultimately approved by more than one lender, then you've got your pick!  The one thing I can say for NVR, and I'm not taking sides here, but they are directly affiliated with Ryan Homes.  Your home build is accessible to them at all times.  All change orders to your build are made available automatically to them.  This cuts back on paperwork if you go with a third-party bank and, more importantly, saves time.  The other nice thing is that you DO NOT have to wait for a final appraisal to have full loan commitment with them.  You will with other banks, which means you'll get a loan commitment contingent on the house's appraisal value that the bank will come out and do after the house is built.  Well, if there is any issues with delayed appraisals, or your appraised value comes back significantly less than what your purchase price was, you could be looking at trouble, more paperwork, and basically a significantly delayed closing process (which means delayed move-in).  NVR, because they work directly with Ryan, doesn't need to do this post-build appraisal and therefore can give you a full loan commitment upfront - one less thing to worry about so you can focus on your house's construction!

I will point out that, while Steve has done a very good job, he's also basically a sales rep for NVR.  They want your loan.  They want your money.  Clearly.  Even though they will most likely sell it to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae almost immediately.  In fact, if you go with their mortgage, they give you a nice incentive of about $3000 to $5000 (depending on where you live) to apply to your closing costs for the home loan.  This is ON TOP of whatever other builder incentives you are getting from Ryan Homes.  They're rates are slightly higher than my credit union's, but still competitive with the overall market.

So far, I haven't seen anything that might make us NOT want to use NVR.  I've read some bad things about them on the Internet, but, then again, I've read bad things about EVERY mortgage company I've researched.  So, you take the good with the bad and do what's most important to you.  As for me, the more cash incentives at closing the better!

For now, we're considering some backup options, but we're proceeding with the NVR application full-steam and will update you all as it progresses!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Selections and Incentives

Our Selections and Builder Incentives

When we sat down with our Sales Rep to complete the purchase agreement, we also selected our initial upgrades/options for the home.

The base purchase price of the Milan includes the following right off the bat:
  • Beaded siding
  • Dimensional shingles
  • Level 1 vinyl resilient flooring in wet areas, carpet in others
  • Base trim package (doors, windows, etc.)  Does not include any crown molding, chair railing, etc.
  • Shell white paint throughout house
  • Landscaping and sod for front yard, rear is seeded
  • Lamp post
  • Seamed concrete driveway and walkway to front door/porch
  • Garbage disposal
  • Elongated toilet bowls
  • 3 low voltage outlets (CATV/Data/Phone)
  • 9' First floor ceilings
  • Stainless steel appliances (Microwave/Dishwasher/Range)
  • Ice maker rough-in
  • 2 car front entry garage
  • Bathroom fans
  • Garage door
  • 42" kitchen cabinets
  • Basement (unfinished)
  • Double sink in owner bathroom
  • Chrome faucet fixtures
  • Three bedrooms
  • Loft
  • Basement Insulation
  • Garage door opener
  • 200 AMP service
  • 50 GAL Electric Water Heather w/ Mixing Valve
Now, part of the reason we decided to go with building with Ryan was the monthly incentive they were running (they run one per month).  For us, it was a free finished basement (a value of $14k).  A finished basement is one of the top 5 items we were looking for in a home so it was a must have.  To get it without additional cost made this particular deal even sweeter for us.  In addition to the finished basement, we got the $5k lot discount, and a free cottage elevation upgrade (valued at $6k).  Not sure if Ryan does this for every home, but we're sure glad we got it!

TOTAL INCENTIVE VALUE = $25,000.  Applies regardless of what lender we use.  I'll note here however that we COULD get an additional $3k off our closing costs by using Ryan Homes' lender partner, NVR (and possibly still get it if we apply w/ NVR and are denied and have to go with another lender).  More on that in later post....

Here is a list of what we selected as options or upgrades beyond what we were already getting.  Prices included.
  • 3 piece plumbing rough-in in basement (for future bathroom): $1195
  • Morning room: $15995
  • Kitchen cabinet upgrade level 1: $2595
  • Gas fireplace: $3895
  • Opted for the main level Study in lieu of the formal living room: $695
  • Owner bathroom Soaking tub and glass shower with ceramic tile surround (this is a level 2 owner bathroom upgrade): $4495
  • Optional window in bedroom #3: $495
  • Converted loft into an extra bedroom: $1995
  • 2 complete ceiling fans:  $790
  • 3 overhead bravo/joy lights:  $750
  • 6 recessed lights:  $600
  • Water softener rough-in:  $595
  • Carpeted stairs w/ wood railing/balusters: $895
In total (after incentives) we selected about $30k in additional upgrades.

Our sales rep told us to expect to make lots of changes, though.  And boy did we.  More on that to come on the next post!  Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Purchase Agreement and Lot Selection


Ryan Homes New Builder

Ryan Homes Lot Selection

Our community, Spring Meadows, offers 10 different homes to build, with lots ranging from 70' to 90' in width.  Naturally, some lots are offered at a premium because of location or size, some allow for walk-out basements, some do not, and some include certain "elevations" at no additional cost.

We elected a 70' corner lot that actually came with a discount of $5000 from our purchase price and a free upgrade to a "cottage" elevation for an exterior that will look close to the picture below.  I think we got pretty lucky with this lot.  It has no rear neighbors and has a beautiful wooded/green area behind it with a pond.  In fact, because it's on the corner, we'll only have a neighbor on one side, which we liked a lot.  Not to mention the $5000 discount.  The lot is indeed smaller than the 90' lots, but we felt that we would rather invest more money into the house itself, rather than buying more land.  Which brings us to what we picked out of the out houses available to build on our lot...

And the winner is... THE MILAN!

Ryan Homes Milan Model

On the lot we chose, we essentially had our choice of 8 out of the 10 homes available.  We chose the Venice at first, because the price was fair for the amount of square footage.  BUT THEN.... we saw the Milan!  I immediately liked it.  It was like the Venice model, but bigger and with both a formal dining and living room, which I wanted.  It features a center hall colonial design and features many appealing amenities.  The downside is that the Milan only comes with 3 bedrooms (all upstairs) and a loft.  You can convert the loft the a fourth bedroom, however.  More on that later.  We currently rent a five-bedroom house and basically only regularly use 3 of the 5 bedrooms, so we we're okay with 3 bedrooms.

The Milan base price came at $239,990, which was $10,000 more than the Venice model.  Well worth it, though, in my opinion, for what amounts to be a 300-400 sq. ft. increase in space.  Plus, we thought the layout was better, with more options to do what we wanted to do with the house.

We signed our purchase agreement and it became OFFICIAL.  We're now home builders!  YAY!  We're excited to watch this home come to life!  Our next step is to choose our initial upgrade selections.  More to come on that in the next post...

Here's the Milan base floor plan:

ryan homes milan floorplanryan homes milan floorplan

Friday, October 23, 2015


Hi, I'm Dustin.  I am 33 years old and am starting this blog to document my experience in building a new home by Ryan Homes.  I have never blogged before and I have never built a house before, so these are firsts for me.  My intention is to make my posts comprehensive and inclusive, in the effort to both document my experience in building a home and to help potential buyers out as well with insider information from the home building process with Ryan Homes.  As we walk though our elected options and features, I may include pricing where I feel it will benefit people looking at this blog as potential new home builders with Ryan, because that was one thing I wished I saw more when I was doing the same thing.

First, some general information you'll need to know to follow this blog:

A note about upgrades...

On major upgrade selections, Ryan Homes, like any other builder I'm sure, may offer several levels of upgrade for that selection, with each higher level giving you more in terms of quality, style, space, etc.  The trade-off of course is as you select higher levels, you also get higher costs.  So when I talk about level 1 or level 2 upgrades in this blog, this is what I'm speaking of.  For example, a level 1 upgrade on the owner's bathroom gets you a separate shower and soaking tub (as opposed a combined unit), with fiberglass surround.  Go for level 2 and you get ceramic surround and a built-in seat in the shower.

Okay, so how did we end up here..?

I have a family of four and we finally decided this year that we were tired of renting and ready to buy our first house and plant our roots.  After looking at literally dozens of houses in the area, we found one that was a decent price, had lots of room, and most of the features we wanted.  We put a bid in on it but lost out in a bidding war with another buyer.  We were discouraged but determined.  We had previously put off the idea of building a new home because we figured we'd have to spend a lot more money and couldn't really get what we want feature-wise without totally going over our budget.  After we lost that bidding war though, we took a chance and visited a new home development site that was in the neighborhood we wanted to live in.  I have to admit, we were hooked right from the start.  The lots were nice, we liked the floor plans we saw, and it seemed affordable.  It was the right place, with the right school district that we wanted for the kids.  The sales reps, Mindy and Kelley, did a great job presenting us with honest, upfront, and important information.  They showed us a floor plan that was well under our budget to allow for plenty of upgrades, which we had expressed an interest in.  I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about doing business with Ryan after reading some pretty horrific reviews on the Internet.  Then again, I searched out other builders as well and almost all of them had terrible reviews.  So, I was both pleasantly surprised and impressed with our initial consultation with our sales reps.  They answered all of our questions and really helped us debunk the myth that you can't get what you want if you build if you're working with a limited budget (which we are).  We took all of the information, went home, did a ton of research on the area, costs, etc. and went back to the model home a few days later with a decision........

To be continued...