What to Know Before Buying a New Construction Home in Alexandria


As a home buyer searching in Alexandria, you probably don’t initially think of a newly built home to purchase, as the existing colonial and war time style homes make up a solid chunk of real estate in the area, but developers and builders continually find room for new construction. The hunt might just take a little extra research and a budget stretch to find homes not previously lived in. 


Plenty of original construction projects have occurred in the City of Alexandria during the last couple of years, and this trend will continue, especially near and around Metro stations and of course near Amazon’s National Landing. With land at premium prices, home buyers will find an abundance of townhouse and condo opportunities, especially in the luxury sector. 


Home shoppers intrigued by the possibility of buying a-never-lived-in home should investigate new developments throughout the City of Alexandria. They are in various stages of building or recently completed: Robinson Landing, Watermark, and Eisenhower Square currently have vacancies. But, be sure to connect with an experienced real estate agent familiar with the city. They’ll have insider knowledge of availability, even if the development says SOLD OUT online. 


Out in Alexandria, Fairfax County, land is more plentiful to build traditional single family homes, especially as you travel west. Still, townhouse communities near commuter routes remain a popular choice. New home builds include The Meadows at Rose Hill, and for those who are members of the active 55 and up club, new residences are found in the Crest of Alexandria and Walhaven at Kingstowne. 


If the price tag of a new construction home is beyond your budget, both parts of Alexandria are  building or currently offering apartment space for individuals and families. Check out Gables Old Town North, The Dalton, Del Ray Central, and the upcoming complex that will be created from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) “bus barn.” Construction starts in 2020. 


What to Know Before Buying a New Construction Home in Alexandria


Don’t be tempted to sign the sale documents for a new construction home without the guidance of a buyer’s real estate agent. The process is different from buying a previously owned home, and only an experienced agent will be able to keep your best interests (closing cost credits, negotiated upgrades) front and center. Remember, although you may purchase the house with the sales agent’s help, they will have the seller’s interests in mind. In fact, the builder pays the buyer’s agent fees, so there is no cost to you! 

Here are more unique situations to consider when buying a new construction home.

1. New construction equals delays.

Expect about a year from groundbreaking until move in. Of course, partially built or near completion homes require less time, but bad weather, ordering/shipping delays, and human error all add in extra days that you won’t be living in your new home. 

2. Builders prefer to use contracts that represent and protect their needs, whereas a traditional resale contract takes into consideration both the buyer and seller. 

These different type contracts are best handled and combed through by a buyer’s agent and potentially a real estate attorney. The professionals will advise if addendums and contingencies to the contract would be beneficial to the buyer. Builder-offered warranties are also different, so consult with your agent about how to ensure protection over the house for years to come. 


3. More earnest money is required. 


This will be about 5% of the sales price, which is different from the 1-2% of a previously owned home. 


4. The need for a home inspection doesn't go away just because the home is newly built. 


Even new construction will have flaws that should be addressed by inspectors with skills to review a new home. The ideal situation for the buyer is to be allowed a contingency which includes an independent home inspector. Although the home is required to meet all legal codes, the inspection only meets those standards and the builder’s if beyond satisfactory, hence the need for a hired inspector. 


5. Similar to a renter's walkthrough, the buyer has a punch list or final walkthrough list of corrections to be made. 


It’s normal to find cosmetic deficiencies, such as paint that needs to be touched up and broken light fixtures. This walkthrough also ensures any of the issues found by the home inspector were corrected. These should all be addressed before the settlement date. 


Alexandria’s home buying market remains face paced and limited. These factors present a challenge for buyers to find something available and affordable. The option of purchasing a newly constructed home offer additional opportunities for desirable areas of Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria. 


By Dawn M. Smith