There are factors regarding the subdivision you've asked about which any competent RealtorÂ® will more than earn their commission representing you.
If you have a buyer's agent, they can do a comparative market analysis for you where they analyze sold price per sq ft, list to sale price ratios, days on market, upgrades vs. not, sq ft, # of BR and BA, lot size & value, and other factors to determine whether the builder's asking price is fair both for the neighborhood and the market's area/subarea. If the builder does negotiate price, several factors affect that including how quickly homes are selling there, how much inventory the builder has, how long it's been sitting on the market, and the builder's personal financial situation. Sometimes builders will throw in more upgrades so that they don't negatively afffect current values in the neighborhood. When the home is appraised, you will see what the current market value of the home is. Since most buyers require financing for the purchase, it's in the contract that the home can basically only sell for what it appraises for (there are exceptions, but that's the general rule of thumb).
If it's a reputable builder, then you may not have to worry as much about financial solvency as you possibly could with a smaller builder. If you're working with an on-site agent, they will treat you fairly and disclose all material facts about the property/subdivision, but since they do represent the builder/seller, they will be negotiating on their behalf. Since all agents represent the seller until a verbal or written agreement is reached w/ the buyer, then we wouldn't be able to advise you on an offer price or provide market information for you until you establish a buyer's agency agreement. If you're not currently working with a buyer's agent and would like more information, feel free to contact me with any questions. Have a great day!
My opinion on options is this. Options on a home just like options on a car are going to make the car more expensive to purchase. In general, it will do little to add to resale value. It may help in making the house more desireable and perhaps sell quicker but it will not likely sell for more than a comparable without granite countertops or stainless steel appliances.
Your best option as others have already said is a Buyer's Agent.
Every now and then you will find the last home in a neighborhood being sold by the builder that refuses to get itself sold gracefully. Then, you can make an aggressive offer and see if you can get a deal. However, watch out for the building selling you options and upgrades with high mark ups to make up for the original discount.
If you want to learn more about real estate negotiating, read my book Create A Great Deal, the Art of Real Estate Negotiating. While you can find it on Amazon and BarnesAndNoble, if you go to http://www.PurchaseTheBook.com you get an autographed copy.
If you want a new home, where no one else has lived in it, go ahead and pay the premium for the new home and get ready to spend even more when you get done with upgraded selections at the design center. If getting a deal is important, you might want to look at resale homes. If you want a real deal, look at short sales, where the price is typically 10% below market (see http://www.CreateAShortSale.com for more information on short sales).
If the community is in the final stages of being completed (no other vacant lots to build homes on) then you can probably negotiate down the price considerably.
If the community has a lot more to build, then they may not be as negotiable on the price because it may hurt their closings because it will affect the appraisal value on those homes. You may be able to get more closing costs and upgrades more easily.
Going to a Builder without a Buyer's Agent is like going into a car lot and expecting the friendly salesman to be on your side against the company. Not going to happen. Builder sales reps are usually superbly trained to establish rapport with you and then, get as much money for the house as they can. Never forget, they work for the Builder, not for you.
When you take a good Buyers' Agent with you, they probably already know what others have paid in the neighborhood, they know what upgrades make sense and add value, they know what other inventory is available and what the pace of sales has been, and they are skilled and comfortable with negotiating on your behalf. The Builder may tell you that they don't accept offers, but that is not our experience at all.
After the contract is negotiated, your agent will also help you with design selections to maximize your value, supervise the independent inspection (Yes, you need one!), make sure that repairs are done properly, coordinate with your lender to make sure that all the documentation is ready on time, review the closing documents to make sure that they are in accord with the contract, explain them all to you, and help you get utilities transferred, movers coordinated, etc.
That's a lot of work and requires experience and expertise. It's a good value, because the Builder actually pays the agent's fee out of their marketing budget. That budget is priced into every home, whether you use an agent or not. I have heard a Builder rep tell a Buyer that the home will be cheaper without an agent, but the Buyer overpaid by thousands compared to similar "represented" transactions.
Find an experienced agent who has worked with the Builder you like and ask them what their results were. Ask for recent sales by the same Builder. Ask them for references from Buyers they represented. Then let them help you get a great deal.
Doc Stephens, REALTORÂ®
Keller Williams Realty
San Antonio, TX 78230