Opening lines to conversations you might avoid by purchasing used:
“That’s standard landscaping? It looks nothing like the model”
“Tell me again about expansive soil”
“I thought the deck was going to be larger … smaller … drain away from the house.”
“When does normal settling stop?”
“You believe this workmanship meets industry standard? ”
“I know I sound like I’m whining, but…..”
“What do you mean that this brand of fixture is just as good as the one I picked out? ”
“What is a bad batch of concrete?”
“Sump pump? When did we talk about sump pump?”
And our personal favorite (yes, we really dealt with this situation), “You never mentioned there would be a fireplug in my front yard.”
In fairness to builders, many buyers equate new with “perfect” and “dream home” which is generally not the way we think when buying a previously lived in home. Unrealistically high expectations of a brand new home can cause issues that are really not the builder’s fault. On the other hand, this article is not about allocation of blame; it is about avoiding stress regardless of the source.
Conflict with a builder, or their agent, can be a frustrating, unproductive process. When you buy from a builder you invariably buy from a corporation. There is no individual liability. Additionally if the builder creates a new corporation for each house or development, his liability is limited to the assets of that single corporation. Minor problems may not be worth going to court over and most developers really do try their best to make the purchaser happy. However, sometimes even they are surprised with cracks in the walls or poor trim work. With major problems, the builder points to the engineer who did the soil work, the engineer points to the builder who had the soils report and everybody points to the real estate broker who was just trying to make their client happy. Unfortunately, nobody wants to pay the purchaser or agree what’s a fair amount for the unsolvable problems.
If you still want your new dream home, great! Carefully look for a really good builder or housing development. Forget about the references of satisfied customers in homes already completed. Ask for a list of the names and phone numbers of buyers for all of the developer’s homes that have closed in the last six months. Take your time when looking at new homes and ask to see homes within the development that have been built a year or so earlier. See what those houses look like and what those folks have to say about issues and solutions they’ve encountered. We find that people who live within developments or who have worked with the developer in the past are a great source of honest feedback. If they’re happy, they’ll let you know. If they’re unhappy, they’ll really let you know.
Another option, work with an agent and find your perfect, slightly used home. After all, buying your new home used may mean someone’s already had those conversations mentioned above.