The 23 Best Ways to Save Money When Building a House


How to Save Money When Building a House

Are you building a house soon? Or are you stuck between building a new home or buying older construction? Well, we’ll fill you in on a little secret to aid your decision making: building a house is not always more expensive than buying! Building a home is full of ups and downs and costly expenses that can add up quickly. However, we want you to have the best home-building experience. So, we have created this comprehensive guide on how you can save money when building a house.


Happy home building!


Jump to Section

  1. Decide on a Budget
  2. Know Your Mortgage Rates
  3. Explore Your Lending Options Early and Shop Around
  4. Find the Right Home Builder
  5. Understand What a Base Price Consists Of
  6. Consider the Aesthetic
  7. Work with a Favorable Floor Plan
  8. Re-quote Your Home Insurance
  9. Look for Non-Package Appliances
  10. Search Online Wholesalers Instead of Buying Retail (& Look for Coupon Codes)
  11. Insist on Standard Sizes for Doors and Windows
  12. Comparison Shop to Get the Best Deal
  13. Find Materials on Your Own
  14. Recycle Materials
  15. Collect Boxes
  16. Think About Energy Efficiency
  17. Consider Doing Some Installations Yourself
  18. Be Open to Continuing Renovations in the Future
  19. Get a Complete Cost Breakdown Before You Sign
  20. Bid Out Your Cost
  21. Leave the Final Touches for Yourself
  22. Know All Your Tax Credits
  23. Bonus Tip

1. Decide on a Budget

Before any actions can be taken, determining how much you can afford is the first step you should take when building a home. We highly recommend meeting with a financial advisor and a lender before the purchase of a lot. 


Once your budget is determined, it is critical to stick with the budget that you have set. If you are trying to save money, you must be disciplined with your budget and not fall into the temptation of exploring the different possibilities for your future home.


2. Know Your Mortgage Rates


While building a home takes time and construction loans are inevitable, it’s important to be ahead of the curve when it comes to mortgage rates. Doing so will allow you to lock in favorable rates at an advantageous time. Contact a lender you trust for more information. 




3. Explore Your Lending Options Early and Shop Around


Obtaining a home loan is a daunting but necessary step even if you are buying an existing home. Beginning this process early can save you lots of time and money. There are many different lenders that all offer different options, such as closing incentives and credits. 


Your real estate agent plays an important role in this process as they are very familiar with the best lenders that are available to you. Agents also make this step easier by educating you on the different types of loans, which is helpful if you feel comforted by knowledge. 


4. Find the Right Home Builder


Building a home does not need to break the bank, and a good way of ensuring that is finding the right builder. When building a home, you want the builder to be respected, affordable, and reliable in terms of timeline and quality work. You should compare homebuilders in your area and take note of:


  • Who can give you the most for your money
  • Reasonable upgrades
  • Inclusive-based pricing
  • Reviews
  • Recently completed projects



Finding the right home builder can be an intimidating procedure, but being represented by a real estate agent can take some of that stress away. Robert Garcia, Realtor and Director of Sales and Operations at the Eric Stewart Group recommends that home/lot buyers should go with a real estate agent to the initial meeting with a home builder to discuss all the pros and cons. “Working with a real estate agent is like riding a motorcycle with a helmet or going to the doctor with insurance,” says Robert. It is a good idea to check with your lender to see if there are any available opportunities to work with a builder they do business with often. 


Choosing the right realtor for representation can be overwhelming. Here are 10 questions you should ask before hiring a realtor.


5. Understand What a Base Price Consists of


In most cases, a base price is the first number a builder will give you and encompasses:


  1. The structure of your home, including walls, foundation, roof, etc.)
  2. The finishes of your house, such as countertops and cabinetry
  3. The cost of purchasing the lot
  4. Basic landscaping


Items 3 and 4 may not always be included in the base price of a home, but the responsibility is on you to ask and gain clarity on what is going into the base price.


6. Take the Aesthetic Into Account


There are particular home aesthetics that can offer some cost-saving opportunities, such as industrial homes that intentionally leave aspects unfinished to satisfy aesthetic desires.




7. Work with a Favorable Floor Plan 


A clever way to save money while building a home is to opt for an open floor plan. Doing so allows you to avoid expenses for interior walls, doors, hallways, wiring, and plumbing. Open floor plans also invite you to get creative and use the space in different ways. 


On a similar note, if you don’t want to take on the responsibility and cost of customizing your floor plan, stock floor plan options are available. This option is good for people who are able to visualize two-dimensional floor plans in three dimensions.


8. Re-quote Your Home Insurance


Insurance companies are confident that you will be a customer of theirs for years on end. They may raise your rates or may have better rates available that you don’t know of because you have been with them for a while. Similar to how phone plans work; oftentimes, grandfathered-in plans are paying more than new customers who take advantage of new deals. While building a house, one highly valuable thing to do is shop around for home insurance.


9. Look for Non-Package Appliances 


Package appliances can quickly ramp up the cost of building a house. Oftentimes, these packages will be from brands that your contractor has a relationship with, but that does not mean you are locked in and must choose from the provided options. 


Many builders will allow you to purchase appliances separately and from third-party vendors. All that’s left is the cost of installment. Taking this route allows you to save some money when building a home.




10. Search Online Wholesalers Instead of Buying Retail (& Look for Coupon Codes)


There are ample cost-saving opportunities when building a home and they exist online with wholesale retailers. While the items may come to you unfinished, nothing a quick tutorial and run to the hardware store won’t fix. 


Additionally, when shopping online, be sure to take advantage of coupon codes. All it takes is a bit of research to find coupons that can save you 10% to 20% off.


11. Insist on Standard Sizes for Doors and Windows


Whether your floor plan is highly customized or takes on a more simple design, uniquely sized or shaped doors and windows can pump up the cost of purchase and installation. Construction supply stores usually carry standard size doors and windows.


12. Comparison Shop to Get the Best Deal 


Hard work pays off and the same applies for researching and comparison shopping. Great deals on high-quality, name brand items exist, you just have to diligently look for them. Here are some ideas to consider to get you started on your search: 


  • Visiting local carpet warehouses for sale-priced goods
  • Lighting, plumbing fixture, and appliance shopping on sites such as eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace


13. Find Materials on Your Own 


It’s unlikely that you will find better deals on basic materials than your builder, but you definitely can save some money on non-bulk items, such as stoves, ovens, HVAC systems, water heaters, radiators, and more. To avoid any hiccups or miscommunication, ask your contractor prior to shopping if providing your own alternatives is OK.




14. Recycle Materials 


Scrap material does not equal garbage, but instead could be a way to save money when building a home. Working with a contractor who has an environmentally conscious work ethic and they will light up knowing you want to recycle. You’ll be jumping for joy as well with all the corners you can cut by being a little green.


15. Collect Boxes 


Underestimating how many boxes you will need while building a house is a big no no. Start collecting boxes now so that no additional funds need to be spent later. You can ask your friends, local grocery stores, your neighbors, and more.


16. Think About Energy Efficiency


When trying to save money while building a house, consider long-term costs. Spending a little more on materials, but having an energy efficient home, you may save thousands – this option may cost less than if you shortened spending on materials, but had higher energy bills.


17. Consider Doing Some Installations Yourself


You don’t have to be the handiest of people to install some fixtures and appliances around the home, but doing some installations yourself can save you a considerable amount of money when building a house. There may be a learning curve, but the outcome is rewarding. Additionally, know which installations may be out of your playing field, such as electricity or plumbing. Smaller projects like cabinet pulls may be fitting for you.




18. Be Open to Continuing Renovations Down the Line


Good things take time and there is no standard that says you must finish building your home in one go. Start thinking about which renovations and installations must be done now and which can be saved for later. While upgrades are known to increase the value of your home, others do not have the same return when it’s time to sell and be market ready.


19. Get a Complete Cost Breakdown Before You Sign

Once you have decided on all the elements you want in your home, ask for an itemized breakdown of the total cost. While reviewing this cost breakdown, you may come to the conclusion that some elements are not as necessary as once thought. It is okay to change your mind and remove or modify items from your original list to save money.


20. Bid Out Your Cost


Sometimes you may be required to use a certain builder, but you are still allowed to shop around to see if that price is fair. If you aren’t required to use a certain builder, still shop around and compare prices. You may be able to save thousands of dollars by doing this and find a builder that fits your budgetary goals.


21. Leave the Final Touches for Yourself


If you hired a general contractor, you are still able to complete some renovations yourself, like interior painting, staining wood trim, and landscaping. Just inform them early on and wait until the main building job is complete.



22. Know All Your Tax Credits


There are many laws in place that are favorable for homebuyers and homebuilders, such as tax credits for energy efficient homes. Learn more about tax credits for home builders here.


23. Work with Real Estate Experts

Executing a big project is always done best when working with a team of knowledgeable and experienced people, especially when it comes to building a house. Being successful in real estate requires a level of mastery that cannot be overlooked and you should not have to put that responsibility in your own hands.


At the Eric Stewart Group, we help individuals and families build their dream homes with less stress and more cost-savings. To learn more about how we can help you save money when building a house, click here to schedule a time to speak with one of our agents.


We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Can You Sell a House with a Lien on It? A Complete Guide

can you sell a house with a lien on it

Can You Sell a House with a Lien on It?

Can you sell a house with a lien on it? The short answer is yes, however selling a house with a lien is not an ideal scenario. Liens can complicate the home-selling process and do require a release prior to clearing a title, however, liens do not make it impossible to sell. In this article, we will provide you with pertinent information so that you may take the first step in the right direction when it comes to navigating this complex matter and selling your house for top dollar.


Jump to Section

  1. What is a Lien
  2. Who Can Put a Lien on a Property
  3. Types of Property Liens
  4. How to Know if You Have a Lien on Your Property
  5. How to Conduct a Lien Search
  6. Can a Property Lien Stop the Sale of My House
  7. Can You Transfer Property with a Lien
  8. How to Get a Lien Off Your House
  9. How to Sell a House with a Lien – 5 Options
  10.  How Long Does a Lien Stay on Your Property
  11.  What Happens if You Don’t Pay a Property Lien
  12.  Do Liens Affect Your Credit Score
  13.  Preventing Lien Issues
  14.  Do I Need the Help of a Professional to Sell My House When There is a Lien on It
  15.  Conclusion


What is a Lien

A Lien on real estate is a tool used to to claim possession or what is owed. The lien is lifted once the debt is paid to the entity claiming the lien.


Who Can Put a Lien on a Property

Creditors, individuals, businesses, and any other entity that believes you owe them money can attempt to put a lien on your house. In most cases, the entity in pursuit must get a court-approved judgment before they can place a lien.


Who Can Put a Lien on Property

Types of Property Liens

Mechanical – A mechanics liens, also known as a construction lien, is placed on a property for unpaid work after 90 days.


Tax – Tax liens are placed by the IRS or state government for unpaid taxes. Tax liens typically take priority over other liens and can be removed by paying the debt or negotiating/disputing the lien with the help of a real estate attorney.


Judgment – Judgment liens are placed by the court when an owner loses a lawsuit and the court ordered damages are unpaid. In this scenario, selling a house with a judgment lien on it requires court approval.


Mortgage – A mortgage lien is the most common property lien and consists of two levels: primary and secondary. This type of lien is between and owner and a lender that allows an owner to borrow money to purchase or refinance a home and gives the lender the right to take the owner’s property if the owner fails to repay the money.


Child Support and Alimony – This type of lien occurs when a property owner fails to pay child support or alimony. A court approval is required in order to sell the property owner’s home.


HOA – Homeowners association liens occur when dues and outstanding fines are unpaid even if mortgage payments are in order. HOAs can even issue a foreclosure so long as the state and association covenants deem it permissible.


While there are even more liens than the ones mentioned above, such as a HELOC (home equity line of credit) liens and water/sewer liens, these are the most common.


Furthermore, most liens operate under the “first in time, first in right” principle, which essentially means that the first lien issued on a property is the lien that takes priority. However, there are exceptions: In Virginia, property tax liens and mechanics liens take priority over other previously recorded liens. In other states, HOA liens take priority. Be sure to check with a title company in your state to determine the priority of liens that you may have on your property.


How to Know if You Have a Lien on Your Property 

Discovering whether you have a lien on your property is a rather simple procedure. Property owners can check their county clerk online by visiting their website and entering the address of the property. Another option is to call the realtor that helped you with the purchase of your house.


Also, it’s important to note that If you have one or more mortgages then you likely already have a lien on your property.


How to Conduct a Lien Search

Because liens are public record, retrieving the information is a rather simple task. Property owners can begin their search by:

  • Going to the county recorder’s office website
  • Visiting the county clerk office in person where the office can help with the request
  • Asking your settlement company to order a title search of your property


Can a Property Lien Stop the Sale of My House

If there is a valid lien placed on your property that you are unable to pay off by the time of settlement or when negotiating with the creditor, then, yes.


Can You Transfer Property with a Lien

Generally, you can transfer a property with a lien on it so long as the person accepting the transfer by gift or sale is willing to accept the property with the lien on the title. The law does not require that liens be removed before the title of a property can be transferred (or sold).


How to Get a Lien Off Your House 

The easiest way to remove a lien is to pay the outstanding debt, either in full or by agreeing to a payment plan. Without any outstanding debt obligations, there are no liens.


How to Sell a House with a Lien – 5 Options

  1. Pay off the lien on your house before selling your house. If you have enough equity, you can pay off the lien at closing, which would cut into your profits.
  2. Negotiate the lien with the creditor if you are unable to afford the balance. If this option is taken, an experienced attorney or CPA should be involved.
  3. Transfer your lien to other real estate that you own. Doing so would allow you to defer paying off the lien and the title would be cleared for selling.
  4. Transfer your lien to a buyer. Some investors are not discouraged by liens.
  5. Dispute the lien if you have already paid it off or believe the lien amount is higher than what you owe.


Regardless of which route you take, ensure that you receive a lien release, which states that the debt has been paid and the lien is removed.


How Long Does a Lien Stay on Your Property

The type of lien determines the length of a lien.


Once all lien requirements are met, a release of the lien must be filed in order for the lien to be removed from public record.


In the event of a tax lien, the property owner may be able to obtain a lien certificate of discharge if the lien is greater than the amount of equity built in the house. This process naturally is strenuous and time-consuming and poor credit can add to the difficulty of this process.

What Happens if You Don’t Pay a Property Lien

The lien will remain on the property because a lien is tied to the property and not the property owner.  A property owner may be free of a property owner when the house is sold.



In the case of a tax lien, the government is able to sell this tax lien certificate at auction in an effort to recroup the debt. These certificates are typically purchased by investors.


If the homeowner is still attempting to recover the property, they will have to pay the investor the outstanding balance as well as any interest or fees paid in addition to the debt amount.


If the debt is still not paid, the certificate holder can enforce the lien and take possession of the property.

Do Liens Affect Your Credit Score

As with the longevity of a lien, the type of lien determines the impact of a lien on your credit score.


Some mechanic liens and judgment liens are reportable, meaning the likelihood of it appearing on your credit report is high.


However, not all liens put a dent in your credit score. Tax liens that you are still paying off won’t appear on your report.

Preventing Lien Issues


  • Securing title insurance when purchasing a home can provide you with security should there be unrecorded liens.
  • Paying taxes, fees, and HOA dues on time and in full is a surefire approach to avoid liens being placed on your property.
  • When you are in the market of selling, be honest and forthcoming with potential buyers that a lien may exist and share the steps you are taking to rectify the lien.



Do I Need the Help of a Professional to Sell My House When There is a Lien on It

In short, yes, but it is not recommended. Creditors are privy to the fact that most people do not fully comprehend their rights and options available. Additionally, when you partner with an expert, creditors are more inclined to negotiate.


Do I Need the Help of a Professional to Sell My House When There is a Lien on it


When you need to sell your house fast, consider working with us at the Eric Stewart Group. Whether your lien involves the IRS, a construction company, or any other entity, our 75+ years of combined experience with liens allows homeowners to sell fast. The best way to sell your home for top dollar is to work with a real estate agent who is experienced and can help navigate you through the process. The role of an agent in the sale of a home is essential and can help you successfully sell your property. Be sure to ask these 10 questions before you hire a realtor!


If you’re interested in selling your home in the DMV, click here to contact us today for a free consultation with one of our experts.

Financial Benefits of Selling As Is

Dollar signs in sky

How Selling A Home “As Is” Can Be Beneficial And Financially Rewarding

Do you want less hassle when it comes time to sell your home? If so, you may want to think about selling your home “as is.” Selling “as is” simply means putting the property on the market in its current condition, with few or no improvements. Our NEW As Is Guide provides invaluable tips and suggestions on how to effectively sell your home “as is” while still getting an optimal price. Read on to learn the benefits of selling your home “as is” and how a correct pricing strategy could get you more money than you even anticipated.

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9 Mistakes To Avoid When Selling Your Home

Most Common & Costly Home Selling Mistakes


When it comes to selling your home, there are plenty of mistakes you could potentially make. Selling a home is a complex process, so you should be aware of some of the more common mistakes people make so you can avoid them. Here are 9 common home selling mistakes you can avoid:


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Downsizing Home – The Emotional Rewards

The Emotional Rewards Of Downsizing


Do you live in a home that is too large? Maybe there are entire portions of your home you no longer live in, but you heat them, clutter them, and ignore them. It may be time for downsizing your home, or as we call it, rightsize your life.


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Contingency in Real Estate: Meaning, Buyer Example, Video Explanation


“Contingency” – What Does Contingency Mean for Real Estate?

If you’ve ever bought or sold a house, you may have experienced confusion over all of the terminology involved in the process, such as contingency. Real estate contracts are full of legal jargon that can be hard to understand, especially if it’s your first time buying or selling.


What does the word “contingency” mean in sales, especially in real estate?


What Does Contingency Really Mean?


Contingency is a simple word from Latin roots meaning to hold together. Wait, if it means to hold together, why is it known as a way out of a contract? Well, consider buying real estate without any contingencies. Would you purchase a home if you couldn’t inspect it, do an appraisal, or check for termites? Or have a loan contingency if you need to get a mortgage? No, hopefully you wouldn’t. You need the contingency to hold the contract together even though, if a contingency isn’t fulfilled, the contract will die.


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Home Staging Tips You Can Do Yourself

Staging a Home for Sale Tips

There are people who can walk into a room and visualize what it can become – a coat of paint here, an area rug there, crown molding, soft lighting . . . they can imagine the potential. Unfortunately, most people do not have this ability. Therefore, when selling your home, you don’t want to rely on potential buyers to perceive the appeal of your home on their own; you have to set the stage for them. Below are some of our favorite home staging tips!

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What Makes a Bedroom a Legal Bedroom?


Defining a legal bedroom may seem simple, but despite clear building codes the process is wrought with grey areas.  Requirements differ from county to county, so it’s always safer to check with a Realtor or appraiser before you sell your home!

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12 Expert Tips To Make More Money When Selling Your Home

12 Tips To Get Top Dollar When Selling Your Home

Every seller hopes to sell their home fast and for top dollar. After 33 years in the real estate business, helping everyone from condo owners to luxury home owners successfully sell their home, I have put together 12 tips to help you through this process.

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Selling a House in the Summer in D.C. [Video]

Is it Okay to Sell My House in the Summer?

The seasonal real estate market can vary dramatically by region. In the DC metropolitan area, there’s an old saying: “When the fireworks go up, the sales come down.” It’s not that inventory creeps higher in the summer; there’s a noticeable decrease in buyer interest as people go on vacation, focus on their out-of-school kids, and engage in summer activities.

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