For one, you won't have anyone looking out for your best interest. What that boils down to, is that you don't have someone backing you up, or educating you on how Ryan compares/differs from other builders in the marketplace. For that reason, you may be paying, or committing to something that is not customary in the market. You may not add the types of features, or details to your build, that you really need/don't need. You may be paying for something now, that you can do for half the price later...
Not to say all Ryan reps are to be created equally either. I've had some very good dealings with some and some car salesy dealings with others. I do know one thing, the "slick" types, don't want you to have representation.
As far as negotiating, there usually is "some". They do not do anything "custom". Most of the plans they offer in the "affordable" tracts you are probably considering, cannot be changed in any way. They will not move windows, change light fixtures, etc. They actually dictate which light fixtures you have and if you don't like them, they suggest you change them out AFTER closing. That's not to say it's horrible, it's just a way for them to give you that bottom-line $/SF. With this Saturn approach, they don't "throw in" extras, or give you a rough in bath...
In order to get any of the "specials", ie - morning room, you HAVE to use NVR. It's not a bad deal for something like that. It's almost a no-brainer.
Back to negotiating: I can offer you this... you need to have something comparable. There is typically 1 other builder in certain markets that can compete w/ Ryan. I had a client vasolating b/w the 2. Ryan said they wouldn't negotiate, this other builder said they wouldn't negotiate. In the end, my client got a premium, walkout lot and they waived the lot premium. If they think they are your only option, you most likely won't get anywhere w/ negotiations. It all depends too on how much dirt they are moving around and how many contracts they need vs how many they "have" that month. They have numbers they need to hit.
Ryan is a good option for reasonable new construction, however, you can typically always find a better "value" in existing homes. Window treatments, driveways, landscaping - that all takes time and money. You can't typically reproduce even a newer existing home, anywhere close to the price you will likely pay. There is always transition in these newer subdivisions, which make resales available.
I would also be careful to the new build price vs what the price will be when you actually close. Most people make significant changes throughout the construction process and can add in excess of 10k to their original price...
Good luck w/ your pursuit.
Figures in terms of the cost of a mortgage, interest rates, closing costs, and taxes are consistent across the board. We were unaware that by talking to a Ryan representative without a buyers' agent present essentially waives their responsibilty to pay that agent. Our willingness to walk is based on the fact that we're looking for the best possible option for us in the long-run.
Since I posted last night, I received a call from our Ryan rep regarding the tax incentive for new home buyers and that should we choose to use that, Ryan would pay some of our closing costs. I guess we're just hoping that we can negotiate similar costs as we would if we purchased an existing home. The housing market in Rochester is very stable, and so the prospect of owning a new home that is comparable to existing structures is very appealing but I don't want to enter into a contract blindly. Regardless of what type of home we buy, we expect to stay in it for many years to come and want to make the best investment that we can.