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Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805
Action Realty - Apple Valley, CA
CRS, GRI 909-969-3805

I would say spec home is when the builder decides on the design and features and sells it with very few options or choices to modify. Custom home is when the owner/end user decides on the design and all features of the home and has a builder build it. Spec home is built from plans a builder had prepared and a custom home is built from plans an owner had prepared.   

May 16, 2024 03:41 PM
Michael Elliott
Fathom Realty - Burlington Township, NJ
Burlington, New Jersey Residential Sales

A custom home is one the buyer, architect  and builder create together.  A spec home is one that the buyer typically buys, having no knowledge that it exists, until it is around 95% complete.   

Edit:  Spec is short for speculation, meaning that the builder built it with no one buyer in mind.  Custom is just that.

May 17, 2024 03:15 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

When I hear Spec home, I think of a track home that the builder finished but hasn't sold and that would never become a custom home in my mind, even if it is upgraded more than any of the other track homes.  Custom for me means that it is not at all like the other homes in the neighborhood or nearby.

May 17, 2024 05:02 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Oswego, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

The easiest way to answer your question is to agree with Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805 and move on!

May 17, 2024 03:12 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
The best agent in Southern Utah!

One that deviates from the same lines and features as houses that are mass produced.

May 16, 2024 06:00 PM
Greg Large
ERA Real Solutions - Grove City, OH
A Tradition of Trust

A spec home never "becomes" a custom home.  A Spec home can be "customized" to a Buyers taste and budget either before or after purchase but a custom home is built with the desired result planned and designed BEFORE construction.

May 17, 2024 06:17 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

What Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805 said. Of course, a custom builder can always build a custom home as a spec, as well. Of course, I also feel that a custom home is a bit like love... you can't always define it but you know it when you see it! :)

May 17, 2024 05:06 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
Hot enough for ya?

Seems a fairly simply definition to me.

It's a spec home when a developer is building it with the hopes of attracting a buyer.  So they're SPECulating the features that a potential buyer might desire in the property, and building trying to meet that need.

Once a buyer has been found, it is no longer a spec home, now it is being built for a particular person, often CUSTOMizing it to their personal needs, therefore making it a custom home.

May 17, 2024 04:10 AM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

The first would seem to be custom to the builders tastes, while the second would be custom to the buyer's taste.

May 16, 2024 11:51 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

I agree with Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805 

May 16, 2024 07:22 PM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

My humble opinion is NEVER Peter Mohylsky, Destin BeachPro . Having spent the bulk of my career with developers and builders a Spec Home is a home that the Builder is Speculating that it will sell. A custom home is a home that is sold even before two boards are nailed together.

May 17, 2024 08:41 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services


You have great responses here, Peter. 

I agree with Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805 and Michael Elliott 

May 17, 2024 06:44 AM
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

Great Q! IMO:

Spec home is for speculation . . . it's not customized for a particular buyer. 
So the spec home becomes custom when it's bought and upgraded/customized! 

May 17, 2024 08:23 AM
Jeff Pearl
Samson Properties / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

All homes are customizable to a degree.

May 17, 2024 08:11 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

The Google answer: 

A custom home is a unique house designed for a specific client and location, and the builder uses plans created by an architect or professional home designer. The homeowner has complete control over the design, including the floor plan, materials, finishes, and accessibility. Custom homes can be more expensive than standard homes because they allow the homeowner to make their own specifications. They can also take longer to build.

May 17, 2024 08:51 AM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Spec, in my world is a home being considered, constructed for sale, with attractive qualities while custom is a non-tract home with special features. 

May 17, 2024 05:23 AM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
NC Real Estate Transition & Relocation 919-602-848

While spec does mean speculation, many custom builders also build spec homes and spec builders often accept offers on homes before they begin construction.

I typically think of a spec home as homes that were designed to meet the needs of a broad range of buyers with little to no changes, meet local code specifications, and priced to fit the budget of a broad range of buyers.

Custom homes are homes that are designed for the buyer seeking an upscale or luxurious home, often built beyond what is required by local code, with attention paid to details, often personally designed with/by and architect with a specific buyer in mind, and usually at a higher price since it isn't production.

I imagine there are other things that set the two apart. 

May 17, 2024 11:30 AM
Don Baker
Lane Realty - Eatonton, GA
Lake Sinclair Specialist

spec- you take what I build

custom- you have options and choices to modify

May 17, 2024 02:32 PM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

In a new Subdivision a Spec House is used to show off some of the Builders Options  ….

May 17, 2024 10:51 AM
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, SRES
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

Some good answers here.  I've always viewed a Spec home to be built by a builder without input from a buyer.    Pure speculation of what would a potential buyer want.

May 17, 2024 06:36 PM
Tony Lewis
Summit Real Estate Group - Valencia, CA
Summit Real Estate Group Valencia & Aliso Viejo

A Spec Home becomes a Custom Home when it is Custom Built.

May 21, 2024 09:14 AM
Lynnea Miller
Bend Premier Real Estate - Bend, OR
Premier Real Estate Service in Central Oregon

My husband was a builder for close to 30 years.  He built both specs and custom homes.  The custom homes were built for a client who owned the lot and hired him to build what they wanted on that lot.  For specs, my husband owned the lot and built what he wanted to sell to the public.  He usually listed it (with me) about a month off being finished so that the buyer didn't try to "customize" the home since it was too late to change things.

May 18, 2024 03:12 PM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Custom is from the ground up with a buyer and a builder together, spec is builder builds what he wants even if buyers have choices of finishes.

May 18, 2024 11:38 AM