Besides as one agent said below, there is negotiation room with builder's asking price. You can get a unit lower than what they quote. While the sale price of new construction home doesn't show up as regular sold comp normally, a realtor should be able to help you to find the sale history from public record.
I think you can answer your own question. Given a choice, would you rather buy Merrill Place at $650k or Laurel Place at $725k? The fact that you are even asking this question tells me that you prefer Laurel Place. If you didn't care about newness at all, you would have already bought Merrill Place and would be closing right now. There's no such thing as being priced fairly or not fairly. Nobody is forced to buy anything. If the price is unfair, nobody will buy it. If nobody will buy it, they will lower the price. If you don't want to pay the "newness" premium, then wait a couple years when Laurel place is no longer new.
New homes do have a premium attached to it because of it's age, builder warranties, buyer upgrades and design choices, lot choices, builder financing options, etc.
The better way to compare a home is to have an agent work with you to show your the differences between the one property you are interested in and any properties you feel are comparable.
You are certainly correct that the homes on Merrill Place are extremely similar to the new Taylor Morrison complex, Laurel Place, located on the corner of El Camino Real and Lawrence Expressway. However, the two sales in which you are referring (both on Merrill) are NOT similar to the homes sales at Laurel Place. Both of the homes for sale at Merrill Place are short sales in which the bank must approve the sale. Given that the most reliable sales comparables for these homes are the homes at Laurel Place, I think it more than likely that all three of the combined banks in these two homes sales may likely counter a sales price that is too far below the Laurel Place pricing.
Also, for the savvy home buyer with a great agent, there is negotiating "room" in the Laurel Place pricing--this I know for a fact, but the amount of negotiation depends on many things when entering the sales contract at Laurel. My best advice is, if you're considering a home at Laurel Place, you take an experienced new home Realtor with you when you go.
And, lastly, Bay, there is always a "premium" attached to new housing--something that no one has ever lived in, but you. As a result, while there are other homes available in the same price, there will always be home buyers who want and look exclusively at new homes for their first or second home and are willing to pay a slight premium to ensure that they get the EXACT home, appointed in the exact way, that the buyer wants.
Hope this helps explain things!
Grace Morioka, SRES
Area Pro Realty-People's Choice -
Zillow picks up very general estimates, they do not see what the condition of the home is so comps can be quite off. If you like, I can send you a list of homes sold in that area in the last 3 months to give you a proper estimate.