If you have decent credit, this is a great time to buy a new home. Desperate builders are tossing in perks -- like free finished basements -- and prices are at rock bottom.
But as some homeowners recently learned, you still have to do your homework.
New Home at Great Price
Kathleen Nusbaum scanned the yard of what had been her dream house, in a new Monroe subdivision.
She says the builder offered her a new home at a great price, since his business is slow and many nearby lots remain unfinished.
But thoughts of a great deal vanished on move in day, when Kathleen's children found nails sticking out of the deck in several places.
She explained "we expected to have a deck that was screwed, and it actually was nailed. So you have one nail holding together the steps and the handrail, and on the other side as well."
In addition, Kathleen says the stairs have too steep a drop for children to use.
But she says that's minor compared to the drop off in her backyard, where she dreamed of a big playset.
She said "they told us it was going to be a gradual grade. And it's more of a ski slope, I would say."
Problems at Another New Home
Kathleen's not alone. Bonnie Amyx showed me an inspectors list of dozens of problems with her home down the street.
The biggest: a sub flooring issue, according to her inspector, that she says has caused wall cracking and crooked floorboards.
Bonnie said "my subflooring in the upper level of the house is completely off, highs and lows. There's places where my furniture doesn't touch the floor because it's low in those areas."
Builder Defends Homes
The builder tells us he's tried to address their complaints. But he claims Kathleen and Bonnie won't accept his fixes, and want major repair work.
He says at the low price point of these homes -- around $200,000 -- buyers should not expect custom decks and million dollar construction.
One thing that might have prevented this: The National Association of Home Builders says the "pre settlement walk through" is your best chance to get major problems fixed, or a price adjustment if the problem cant be fixed.
Once you move in, as Kathleen learned, it's much tougher to get changes.
Lesson for all Home Buyers
We have decided not to name the builder because we feel it would be unfair to single out one homebuilder, when so many of them get the same complaints.
But we feel it's an important warning for these times: Even if the house seems like a bargain, that doesn't mean you can let down your guard during the construction process.
That way you don't waste your money.
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