Compare all factors in picking a house


June 13, 1999

Dear Mr. Azrael:

We're looking into buying a new home in Farmington Village in Pasadena. We're looking at two different houses, one is a Ryan home and one is a Grayson home. They are about the same price. I just wanted to know possibly which way we should go. We're very confused and we're trying to decide between the builders and we really don't know who to go with.

Janet Sumner Crownsville

Dear Ms. Sumner:

Since the two new homes you are considering are not identical, you should focus on which home has the features you want most.

Which lot do you like better? Does one home have a larger or more appealing floor plan? Does one home include upgraded materials or appliances? Are there cost differences in options, upgrades or modifications you desire? Is the total cost of each house, including options, upgrades and settlement costs, truly "about the same?"

Perhaps, when you consider all these features, there is a clear choice as to which home you truly prefer.

The reputation of the competing builders may also be an important consideration. After the home is built and settlement has occurred, there will still be a punch list of items to correct during the warranty period. Does one builder have a better reputation for quality construction and "after-sale" service?

You can check with homeowners in the community to see if they are satisfied with the work performed by each of the builders. You also can check the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints from customers.

If you are concerned about a builder's financial strength, you may also ask the builder to provide information about its businesses. How long has each builder been in the construction business? Has either builder had financial problems?

Do not be hesitant to ask any questions you consider relevant. Your new home is an expensive investment and you have every right to get the information you believe is important for your decision.

Questions? The Sun invites you to send real estate questions to Mailbag. Questions are answered by Jonathan A. Azrael of Azrael, Gann and Franz of Towson.

Questions -- including name, address and daytime telephone number -- may be sent in the following ways:

Mailing address: Real Estate Mailbag, Fifth Floor, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278-0001. Fax: 410-783-2517. E-mail:

Call our Sundial audio-response number, 410-783-1800. Enter code 6170 after the greeting.

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