WESH.com Avoid Problems When Buying New Home Editor's Note: Verbatim Script From WESH 6 P.M. Monday
POSTED: 1:28 p.m. EST November 24, 2003 UPDATED: 2:22 p.m. EST November 24, 2003
ORLANDO, Fla. -- You're buying your dream home, but on the final walk-through, you discover problems.
The garage door screams when closing. The toilets aren't bolted to the floor. The builder promises to make repairs after closing. You believe him. If you don't close tomorrow, you have no place to live.
But now, months later, nothing has happened, and your builder has disappeared off the face of the Earth. You've called his cell phone so many times he knows your number and gives you the button. Where are you? You have entered the new-homeowner Twilight Zone.
How did you get there? Economic reality. Many builders live in the future -- not the past.
"He's got his crews working on new homes, where they can make money," Ron Resch said.
Resch is a certified home inspector hired by NewsChannel 2 and the Orlando Sentinel for our housing investigation. Ron's best advice: avoid getting stuck there in the first place.
Tip No. 1: Hire a certified home inspector to monitor construction.
"Well, they know they have someone looking over their shoulder," Resch said.
It will cost anywhere from $800 to $1,000, but he's your best shot at quality control. The home inspector sees problems you don't and will arrange to get the problems corrected before you move in.
For example, I thought one new house looked great, but in a matter of minutes Resch noticed the soffit was crused in one spot, the roof line was crooked, and there's a big nail sticking out of nowhere. If the home builder won't allow the inspector on site, and some won't, perhaps you should find another home builder.
Tip No. 2: Do not use the home builder's lender. Home builders offer nice incentives if you do, but just say no and get your own financing. You need the leverage.
"The bank is going to look after you a little bit more because you're their client, whereas when you are dealing with the builder's lender, the builder is their client. It ain't you," Resch said.
To a large extent, he who controls the money controls the house.
Tip No. 3: Before you sign up with a home builder, do your homework. Drive to the neighborhood. knock on five houses. Ask "How did the builder treat you?"
"If a person is unhappy with their builder they are not afraid to let people know about it,"
Check with the Better Business Bureau. Snoop online, and finally, make sure you understand the contract. Legally, the builder owns the house until the day you close on it. Don't fall in love with it until it's yours.