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Top 10 Complaints About Buying a New Home – Part 2

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What makes moving one of
the most stressful events in your life?

Complaint 7- The landscape is dying.

That first year of landscaping can be a real headache. Whether you put in your own, or the builder put it in for you, building with living things presents a whole different set of challenges. Trees and shrubs are susceptible to transplant shock. Grass hasn’t developed deep enough roots to survive accidental droughts. Often, until you or your property management company get the watering schedule figured out, problems can arise.

Would you believe that I’ve seen more trees and shrubs die because of overwatering? When homeowners see their plants struggling, their solution is to add more water. Unfortunately, roots can drown, and you might be making a bad circumstance worse.


All things considered, landscaping can be a bit tricky that first year or two. Yes, occasionally some plants will need to be replaced. If your tree or shrub appears to be struggling, take a screwdriver and shove it into the soil next to the plant. If it comes out bone dry, you might need water. If it comes out muddy, then there is a good chance that you’re overwatering your yard.

Sometimes the plant is in shock, and you just need to give it time to recover. Many people will see a tree or shrub with several dead limbs and automatically jump to the conclusion that it will die and that it needs replacing now. To this, I say, give it a chance. It may take a year or two, but as long as the plant is still alive, it may recover and look just as wonderful.

Now I’m no arborist, and if you want a second opinion, by all means, go speak to your local arborist. Many cities and counties have at least one. This is just what I’ve seen, and it has often worked for me. Of course, every now and then, you just have to buy a new plant. It happens. Good luck, though. In ten years, once your landscaping is mature, hopefully you’ll have the envy of the neighborhood.

Complaint 6- Inferior quality.

They don’t make them like the use to. This is true. For the most part, they make them better now than they used to.

So what’s the real problem. There’s probably a couple factors:

First- Once upon a time, a subdivision would get developed and most of the lots would be sold off to individual builders. These builders would spend all their time working on just a few houses per year. Often these homes were custom jobs and between the homeowner and the builder, a lot of attention and money was put into building them. Now little custom builders are becoming rare. Entire subdivisions are bought and developed exclusively by the large and megalarge developers/builders. Mass production is the name of the game, and often the level of attention to the tiny cosmetic details can get pushed aside.

Second- Homeowners demand more for less. Gone are the days of building a square house with a simple roof design. Now homeowners demand large sexy exteriors with complicated roofs. If the interior is trendy, all the better. The hitch, is that houses in general, are priced as a commodity. With some exceptions, you’re generally going to pay about the same for one 2000 square foot house as you will another of that same year.

Third- Most houses are built to fit within the market price. This means that the price you’re paying is often to buy the quality you’re getting. There are really good craftsmen still out there. But they’re working on the 2000 sq ft house that costs $500,000 to build rather than your 2000 sq ft house that is going to cost $350,000 to build. I know this sound contradictory to my last paragraph, but when it comes time for re-sale, that $500k home will probably have depreciated quite a lot more than the $350k home.


If you have the money and the know how, you can buy and develop your own lot, then build whatever you want. Most people aren’t going to be able to do this. It’s a lot of work and the cities don’t always have your same vision for that property. If you can still find one of those rare lots that allows you to use any builder, you can have more control that way. If you’re like most people, you might just need to shop the large builders and see which ones have a good reputation for building good homes.

Most builders have models you can walk through. They also have current residents who are usually happy to tell you how pleased or displeased they are with their new home. One thing to do, when you walk into a builder’s model, is to pretend that there is no furniture in there. Once furniture is in, so many things are never noticed again. When you step into their show home, take a look behind the couches. Don’t just open the cabinet doors. Everyone does that, and most cabinet builders can make a decent cabinet. But look closely at the details.

Sit on the toilet for a few minutes and see if anything stands out. Look under the sinks to see if you can find a ring of water on the cabinet floor. I’ve seen some people who’ve leaned against a hall wall, only to have the wall shift on them (never on any we’ve built). See if all the doors close. These are all minor things, often cosmetic in the end. But if they bother you a little now, they might bother you a lot down the road.

Even if you find a builder who seems to have all their ducks in a row, most of these builders have you perform a walkthrough before you close. A good builder will have found and fixed any little problem beforehand. A not so diligent builder will fix them also, especially if you decide that you can wait to close on the home until everything is to your satisfaction.

Complaint 5- The sales staff are rude.

Since many large companies build out entire subdivisions themselves, they often hire a real estate agent exclusively for that project. This agent is there to sell, but since they are on site all the time, and since they are subsidized by the builder, many new homeowners believe that this is their liaison to every issue they might deal with. Most sales agents are okay with this to a point. They are happy to relay any information you might give them to the builder. But remember that their primary job is to sell a home. If you come into their office with magma pouring out your ears, you might find them getting a little defensive in return.

Another thing about these sales agents: They know what price the builder will let the home sell for, and then there’s the matter of options, upgrades, and customizations. The builder may have restrictions based on their own constraints. Many future buyers can’t see why the company won’t work with them on such a simple but obviously good deviation. You can only be told “No” so many times before you start thinking that the sales staff has a vendetta against you.

Then there’s the fact that everyone wants a deal, and that sales person keeps adding dollar signs to each little request you have. Don’t they know that while you need an extra stainless steel double oven, you are on a budget?!


First of all, if you have a problem, don’t take your rage out on the sales staff. Remember that they are people too, and a little sugar can go a lot further than a lot of cussing. Also, if a sales agent seems reluctant to give in to your demands for a certain wall to move or for glow in the dark carpet in the hallways, it’s probably because they’ve learned that the builder is not likely to accept that sort of a change or upgrade.

Sometimes you might actually run into a sales person with a bad attitude. Most likely they’re just flustered from the last homeowner who came in and ruffled their feathers.

I remember one homeowner who bought one of our homes and when Autumn came, the homeowner made the sales lady hand-pick every brown leaf off of her tree. When the homeowner complained that the sales lady missed a leaf, our sales lady blew up in the homeowner’s face. When the homeowner called me up crying and demanding we fire the sales lady, I commended our sales lady for even trying to go the extra mile to make this homeowner happy.

That is an extreme case, but remember that they are there to sell homes. They’ll do what they can to make your experience pleasant, but even they can get burned and even develop a few calluses. Also, they can’t always give a killer deal, because it’s not up to them. They may even be very matter of fact about it. Still, it’s in their best interest to be amiable. Most people have few complaints about the sales person, at least until the sale is completed. Many even become friends with them after the sale, since they are practically neighbors until the subdivision is built out. If you only knew how often they came to bat for you, you might even be more willing to cut them some slack. Mostly though, if you treat them like a human, they will treat you like one as well.


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