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My Husband did home inspections in Collin County for years, and one of the services he offered to help people make up their minds was to walk their top 2-3 favorite homes before they wrote their offer. He used to come on the 2nd showings with us, and give his opinions about things he noticed in each home that the buyer may not notice. It wasn't a formal inspection - which was to come only on the home they put under contract. But, he was a trained-eye and came in as an advisor to help them make up their minds if they were stuck.
Home inspectors are freelance contractors (self-employed) just like real estate agents. Although my Husband has since retired, you can ask any home inspector if they will perform this function as part of their service to you.
I have included the web URL for the Collin County Association of Realtors (CCAR). If you go to the Affiliates section, there is a full list of home inspectors who are members of the local Board.
If you aren't working with a Realtor, I strongly suggest that you do.
Remember you don't have to rely on luck if your working with a REALTOR.
Linda F. Reeves - REALTOR - GRI
ERA Millennium Realty
668 Main Street
Buda, Texas 78610
Centex homes is a pretty good builder. They have been around a long time and they have different products:
Fox and Jacobs - caters to first time homebuyers. They build solid homes but are pretty much shells. No upgrades and most of the time they don't offer them.
Centex: Their move up homes that are pretty decent yet still affordable with many expected upgrades.
Cityhomes: Luxury condos and townhomes.
If the homes are pre-owned, I would suggest that you just look at the current condition and upkeep.
As far as ratings by JD Power., I really don't give too much credibility to them. They have been known to publish some very "interesting" data.
It's really tough to judge the big companies. Norma's idea about cking out JD power is probably a start. In my opinion it often depends on the building super in the individual neighborhoods. Even then, I've seen some I thought were great builders get overwhelmed with multiple houses or multiple communities and then not pay as much attention as they had in the past. Probably now no way to tell who the builder was or if they are still around or what kind of job they did 9 years later. My suggestion is ask the neighbors what they think. Drive or walk around about 5-6-7pm during the weekdays or afternoons on weekends and ask the people in the neighborhood what they think. They'll probably tell you way more than we'll ever know. Even then you'll probably get a variety of opinions.
Be sure if you are buying from a builder without the representation of a realtor that you don't let them trade you up to too many upgrades. Remember that the salesperson works for the builder, not you.
William Davis Realty