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If you’re in the market to buy a home, you have lots to consider, including whether to buy an existing home or a newly constructed one that’s never been lived in before. While a traditional mortgage is one way to go about purchasing a home, new construction mortgages are arguably the best option when it comes to buying a brand-new home.

Key Points

  • A new construction mortgage is designed to provide financing to pay for a newly built home.
  • Funding can either be provided in one lump sum when construction is completed or incrementally as various phases of construction are completed.  
  • Down payment amounts on new construction mortgages are usually higher than they are for standard mortgages.

What Is A New Construction Mortgage? 

A new construction mortgage is a type of loan that provides financing for the construction of a new home. The funds can either be provided in one lump sum when construction is complete (completion mortgage) or in increments during the construction phase (progress draw mortgage).

Progress Draw Mortgage

With a progress draw mortgage, you’ll receive funds at various phases throughout the construction of your home. In other words, you’ll get funds when certain milestones are hit during construction.

For example, you may get some of your funds at 35% completion, 65% completion, and 100% completion. At each milestone, your lender will send an inspector to confirm that the builders have reached the milestone, and you will get your funds once the lender has received confirmation.

Ideally, the construction of the home should be completed within 15 months of the first advance. 

Note: Buyers who have progress draw mortgages must make payments on them as soon as the builder draws on them. That means they might have to pay two mortgages or payments at the same time: one for the home that’s being built and one for your current living arrangements (whether that’s rent or another mortgage).

Completion Mortgage

With a completion mortgage, you require funds only when a home is fully built. So, the builder will not receive any funds until you take possession of the home.

When you submit an offer to purchase a home using a completion mortgage, you must make a down payment, which can often be paid in several installments. When the home is built, you will use the funds from the mortgage to pay the builder the balance of what they are owed.

For example, if a home costs $500,000, the payment schedule might look like this:

  • $10,000 when submitting an offer to purchase
  • $10,000 in 30 days
  • $10,000 in 60 days
  • $10,000 in 90 days
  • $460,000 due when the house is fully built

Differences Between A New Construction Mortgage and A Traditional Mortgage 

There are several differences between a traditional mortgage and a construction mortgage:

  • Who the loan is for: A traditional mortgage is designed for borrowers who need a lump sum of money to pay for a home purchase. A new construction mortgage is specifically catered to those who want to build their own homes. It’s designed in a way that helps a person finance the building process while protecting the lender – usually a bank – at the same time. 
  • Term: While traditional mortgages are fairly long-term, commonly lasting decades, new construction mortgages are very short-term. They often last one year or less.
  • Disbursements: While you get the full amount of your home’s value to purchase a home with a traditional mortgage, a new construction mortgage is given at different stages of the construction process.
  • Down payment: The down payment on a new construction mortgage is often higher than it is on a traditional mortgage because the lender does not have your home as collateral, as they do with a traditional mortgage.

What Are Construction Draw Schedules?

Construction draw schedules determine when specific phases of construction are complete, and when funds will be subsequently released to keep the job going. 

Before construction begins, these schedules are negotiated and agreed upon. The schedules can be put forth by the lender, the lender’s appraiser, or the builder, each of which may differ because of varied construction timelines or costs. 

Example Of A Construction Draw Schedule

Below is an example of a construction draw schedule where the borrower already owns the land that the home will be built on:

Draw NumberMilestoneDraw Percentage of Total
First DrawPurchased land65% – 75% of land cost
Second DrawFinished roof45%
Third DrawFinished drywall, plumbing, and wiring70%
Fourth DrawFinished interior90%
Fifth DrawFinished construction100%

Example Home Completion Schedule

Below is an example of a home completion schedule:

Work CompletedPercentage of Total
Excavation10%
Foundation15%
Framing25%
Roofing25%
Windows10%
HVAC5%
Drywall5%
Painting5%
Total100%

Pros And Cons Of A Progress Draw Mortgage

Progress draw mortgages come with a handful of perks and drawbacks:

Pros:

  • Lock in your rate sooner. One of the biggest advantages of a progress draw mortgage is that you can lock in your interest rate sooner. This offers you a bit more protection in a time of rising interest rates. 
  • Protection for all parties. Progress draw mortgages also protect everyone involved:
    • Buyers don’t have to make a full mortgage payment on a house they cannot live in
    • Builders don’t have to use their own money to pay for supplies upfront
    • Lenders don’t have to lend an amount of money that would be hard to get back if the buyer defaulted on the loan or if the builder did not complete the project. 

Cons:

  • Paying for two mortgages. A major deterrent of a progress draw mortgage is the second mortgage payment. People with these mortgages must make payments on them as soon as the builder draws on them in addition to their rent or mortgage of the home they’re currently living in. Paying for two mortgages at the same time can be difficult, so they try to limit the time that they must make two payments as much as possible.

Pros And Cons Of A Completion Mortgage

A completion mortgage has a couple of advantages and disadvantages worth considering:

Pros: 

  • Only one mortgage. The biggest pro that completion mortgages have over progress draw mortgages is that buyers aren’t stuck making two payments for their living arrangements. Whether you’re currently renting or paying a mortgage, you won’t have to make payments for that and your new mortgage at the same time.

Cons:

  • Available for homes with quick closing. The downside to a completion mortgage is that they’re often only available on quick-possession homes. These homes are either already built or almost built, so buyers get less control over how the home looks.

Things You Should Know When Getting A New Construction Mortgage

There are a few key factors to understand before applying for a new construction mortgage:

  • Warranty policies. One of the most important things when getting a new construction mortgage is the New Home Warranty policies. Before releasing the funds from each draw, the lender will send an inspector to ensure the builders follow these policies. Failure to follow these policies could result in you not getting the funds you need.
  • Inspection costs. As the borrower, you are responsible for inspection costs. Generally, you will have to pay these out of your pocket, although some lenders will let you deduct appraisal and progress inspection fees from your draws.
  • No changes. No accommodations for any changes or upgrades made to your home can be made by changing the amount of your mortgage once it is signed and approved.

Should You Get A Self-Build Mortgage Or Buy From A Builder?

Whether you should get a self-build mortgage or buy from a builder depends on how much control you want over the home-building process.

Self-Build Mortgage

Self-build mortgages give you freedom over how your house looks because construction either hasn’t yet started or is in the early stages. The big downside is that you will have to make payments on the self-build mortgage and on your current living arrangements at the same time. 

You will also have to wait longer to move into your house because you’ll need to work with the builders to ensure the house is built to your specifications. If you want a lot of freedom on how your house looks, a self-build mortgage might be for you.

Buying From A Builder

When you buy a home from a builder, typically you’re buying a house that is either close to completion or already complete. A house with an advanced state of completion means that you don’t have a lot of decisions left to make on how the house looks. If you want to move quickly, buying from a builder might be the best bet.

Can You Get A Pre-Construction Mortgage For A Condo?

If you’re buying a pre-construction condo, you’ll have to consider numerous aspects before making the purchase.

Down Payment

While resale condos require as little as 5% down, pre-construction condos usually require 20% as a down payment. However, you won’t be expected to pay the 20% in one shot, it’ll be spread out over a period of time like the completion mortgage, mentioned above. 

When submitting an offer to purchase, you’ll offer a certain amount as a deposit. Then, you can expect your subsequent deposits to look something like this:

  • 5% in 30 days
  • 5% in 90 days
  • 5% in 180 days
  • 5% at occupancy (when your unit is completed)

Closing Costs

When purchasing a pre-construction condo, closing costs can be more expensive as they can include additional fees than a regular mortgage. These fees include:

  • Assignment Fees – This fee is for when you sell before the final closing. Similarly, if you flip the unit, you may also be charged these fees.
  • Development Charges – These fees are charged by the builder for the costs associated with developing property in the city.
  • Occupancy Fees – These fees apply if you move in before the rest of the building is completed. Sometimes, the builder will let residents of lower floors move in while they continue construction on the higher-level floors.

Bottom Line

New construction mortgages are a great way to pay for a brand-new home. You can choose between a progress draw or a completion mortgage. Depending on how or when you need the funds throughout construction. You can also consider a self-build or take-out mortgage, depending on whether you’re building a house from scratch or are buying a new almost complete home. The different options give you a lot of flexibility because you can choose to move into a house quickly or have more say in how the house is built.

New Construction Mortgage FAQs

Do I have to make monthly payments on construction loans?

Yes, you have to make monthly payments on construction loans. Depending on the lender, you might be able to only pay monthly interest payments while construction is ongoing. After construction is complete, you will have to make payments on the interest and principal.

Can I receive money to purchase land with a construction loan?

Yes, you can receive money to buy land with a construction loan. Your first construction draw would typically be used to buy land to build on if you do not already own land.

What happens to a construction loan when construction is complete?

Once construction is complete, you can pay off your construction loan in full or refinance it into a mortgage.

How many construction draws can I receive?

Although it depends on the lender and their flexibility, you will usually only receive four draws. An appraiser will visit the home to see the progress before paying the draw. These visits may also come with an inspection fee.

Who is eligible for a new construction loan?

Similar to when you apply for a standard mortgage, your lender will assess your income, debt, and credit score when you apply for a new construction mortgage. These criteria will be stricter than those for a standard mortgage because unfinished homes, covered by construction loans, are less valuable to a lender than finished homes.
Matthew Taylor avatar on Loans Canada
Matthew Taylor

Matthew joined the Loans Canada writing team in 2021 while was finishing up a Bachelor's degree at the University of Saskatchewan. It was there that he discovered his love of writing. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Canadian Student Review and NewEngineer.com. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys reading, geocaching, and spending time with his family and pets.

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