You pose an interesting question. There are a lot of factors that would go into the decision to build or buy an existing home. It really does depend on you.
If youâ€™re not sure how long you will live in the house, and plan to move in a year or two, then I too would suggest you look at what is already available rather than building. There are many nice homes on the market right now, and the prices are good.
If you plan to live in the house a bit longer than a couple of years, then maybe building would be the right choice for you. You would get what you want and have time for the market to recover/adjust (hopefully in your favor). One thing you have going for you is the housing market in the Madison area is not in as big of a slump as other parts of the country, and from what I understand, many builders are starving for new business. When they can build a house and know itâ€™s already sold, they are usually fair with the price.
Good Luck to you in your decision!
The answer is yes - Risky at best. You say that you are not sure how long you will live in the area. Given that, I would be extremely conservative in what you purchase. Having built homes ourselves, and having worked for a Builder- it is highly likely that the cost of building the home and completing landscaping, driveway, etc could exceed what that home would sell for on the open market. I am seeing alot of builder models and specs sitting on the market for a long time.
Personally, I probably would suggest you consider seeing what you could buy that is already built. I'm sure there are some extremely good buys out there- rather than investing the time and money it would take to build a new home.
Also, consider that at the higher price ranges there aren't that many people that can afford those homes, You could end up having to hold the home for quite awhile before finding a buyer - plus, I don't see prices going up at the rate we saw in the early 2000's...
But- look at all your options and make sure you are comfortable with whatever decision you make