Hi Lore -
Another factor to consider with regard to new construction/builder inventory right now is the context of pricing. Over the past couple of years, pricing has been reduced incrementally since the "top" of our market. So, to use round numbers, a builder may have had an inventory home at 1234 Anystreet priced at $700,000 a year ago. If the builder still has that home in inventory, the price has assuredly dropped. For example's sake, let's just say this 1234 Anystreet inventory home was reduced by $100,000 six months ago, and is now priced at $500,000, a nearly 30% decrease year-over-year. If you're considering the current market to be overpriced (which it may very well be) and are only willing to pay $400,000, then the builder will not see you as trying to get a $500,000 home for $400,000; it will see you as trying to get a $700,000 home for $400,000. As the answers before mine indicated, it is fine to offer this as long as you have evidence (very recently sold comparables) that $400,000 is now reasonable.
Make a conscious effort to not confuse "list price" with "value." Most of the best value listings right now are bank- or lender-owned properties, and banks are not real estate agents. It is [nearly] impossible for builders to beat foreclosure pricing, so make sure the comparables you're using are in very good shape (ie: clean, similar finishes, new/like-new flooring/fixtures, etc.).
Just know that for builders, everything is a numbers game. It is not personal and is very much based upon bottom-line. I worked for small, local builders as well as huge Fortune-500 firms for the first 5 years of my real estate career. The motivation was the same. If you present a data-substantiated offer accompanied with earnest money (applicable to some builders | earnest money is always refundable if your offer is not accepted) and there is "room" in the budget, it will have a very good chance of being accepted.
Hope this helps...I wish you all the best of luck!
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