Jul 23, 2009

Buying a Newly Built House or Condo? Bring an Ally

With house prices so low, people who might not have thought about buying a first -- or second -- home a couple of years ago are entering the fray. And they're no doubt curious about what kinds of deals new-home builders can offer them.

Unlike sellers who live in existing homes, house and condo builders can't just settle in for a while and wait for the market to pick up -- they've in many cases got empty inventory to move. Indeed,  they seem eager to make irresistible offers, complete with a flat-screen TV and a Hawaiian cruise in some cases.

But that makes now a good time to remind readers that if you show up "just for a look," without a real estate agent, and then decide to buy, many builders will argue that you can't bring an agent into the deal -- after all, the agent didn't help you find the place, the builder's own marketing lured you in. And having no agent by your side could be a distinct disadvantage if problems arise.

Don't let the low rates blind you to the fact that the builder is struggling in this market, too. Some go bankrupt, others just string the buyers along. (Fortunately, you can hire an attorney at any time -- but this probably isn't the way you were hoping the deal would go.)

For a good example of what I'm talking about, see the question posed to Tara-Nicholle Nelson of Inman News, and her very sensible answer