First I'll spotlight on the word "committing". Some of the money a buyer puts up for a new home may be "non-refundable" For example, if you are ordering special non-standard upgrades. The builder may require a non-refundable deposit from the buyer that is choosing tangerine carpeting, or a wall of electrical outlets.
If you change your mind about buying at the last minute, by nature the non-refundable portion of the deposit may be reasonably retained by the builder.
New homes usually cost more per square foot than comparable used homes, especially
when you consider the additional after sale costs such as draperies, curtains, blinds, and other window coverings, and backyard hardscaping and landscaping. I don't call that a risk, though. It is a known factor.
A great empty field still sits across from the home I bought new in 2002. I was shown plans for a swim and tennis club that was proposed to go there. It was never built. Though I loved having the privacy of no neighbors to the south and west, and the wide open view - prospective buyers fear a vacant lot for the worst case scenario. -- Ever watch the show "Arrested Development"?
Construction Dust: Unless you are among the last in your community to move in, there will be construction activity and dust, nails or screws in the street for your tires to drive over.
Realtors think this question means "financially risky?"
Another interpretation is health and safety. Other than the forementioned construction dust, newer homes are often safer - according to my insurance advisers - They have smoke detectors in each bedroom and on each floor, Carbon Monoxide detectors, fire suppression sprinklers, strapped and vented water heaters, also much less likely to have mold issues. Very unlikely to have asbestos or lead paint. Against that, though, some of the brand new materials might, for a few months, be off-gassing unpleasant chemicals such as formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds.
Pick your poison.
I have bought used and new, sold new and used. There are good reasons for an individual or a family to buy either. I advise my buyer clients to consider the homes that fit their budget and search criteria, sometimes that includes new homes.
some things to consider are:
You will most likely need to design and install your back yard landscaping. Design and installation can be a cost not budgeted for as you are picking out your colors and imagining that your home will look like the model...it most definitely won't. it will be more basic unless you've paid for all fo the upgrade options.
You won't know who your neighbors are, or how they will be doing their landscaping either. Unlike an established neighborhood, where you can already observe whether there are parked cars, nicely landscaped neighbors ...this will al be an unknown.
You will want to be represented by a buyer's agent. When you go to a new home develpment, they often ask you to sign in. That restricts an agent from representing you. Therefore, when you are railroaded through the process, you have little to no say. The listing agent is little more than an order taker and follows a standard process and timing that they want you to adhere to. Who is checking for your protection? such as is there transfer tax after the first purchase? special fees or assessments?
In most cases, the financing option is a great deal that can't be beat by an outside lender. They will offer incentives to use their lender but again, this lender gets alot of business from the developer. You want to make sure you have someone on your side. it doesn't cost you a cent but will make you a more informed buyer.
I totally agree with Sue's advice about having a buyer's agent to represent you through the process. An experienced agent who has worked in new home building will be looking out for your interests, not the builders. Here in Florida when you visit a new home community and talk with the on site sales representative that rep is most likely working for the builder directly. They are employees of the home builiding company. Or they may be general real estate agents that the builder has hired to help them sell their homes. Either way they work for the seller, not the buyer.