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Okay, we've signed a purchase agreement to buy a new house in a new development. Went to see the lawyer last night (a day after signing...sigh...stupid is as stupid does) and I'm glad I did...yes, it would have been helpful to have seen him before signing. Maybe by the fifth or sixth house, I'll get this right.

Anyway, the lawyer suggested a couple of things that I'd like to get feedback on from the smarter fools out there--if you can read this message, you qualify!

1) He suggested that we can actually close on the house sooner, rather than later, say, within a month or so. Big surprise to me as the house has to be built and we are told this will take 4-6 months. In his scenario, the lender pays the builder as the house gets built. As for us, we don't start paying mortgage until we take occupancy. The rationale for wanting to do this is to get a good interest rate--everything I read leads me to believe the rates are headed up and by next October/November, we could be looking at rates that are higer by half a point or more than those we could get today.

2) While our house is an "upscale" tract house with lots of extras (that we are paying for--just folded into the price), we will likely want some "upgrades". For example, built in shelves, a built in dual desk in the kids' study area, crown molding in the office, that sort of thing. Our lawyer suggested that we might be able to get a better price if we contracted out for these extras ourselves, rather than going with the builder to provide them. In addition to realizing a savings (potentially) of 20-30% (his estimate), we could still fold the cost of these items into the mortgage and have them done as the house is being built. This was a surprise to me--can this really be done? Does the builder have to let us do this if we wish? What about the refrigerator, can we buy one ourselves and fold it into the mortgage?

3) I want to get a home inspector to go to the site and inspect things with me as the house gets built. We'll pay him, but since I know a little less about construction techniques that about buying the house, I'm pretty sure this is a good idea. I also want to hire a landscape architect/engineer (??) to go to the lot now and make sure that it will drain properly and that the conservation area adjacent to my lot won't be home to amorous bugs, stagnant water, etc. Having singed a contract, how do I go about telling the builder that I want this, do I write in pen these things over the copy of the contract I have, send them a registered letter or what?

Fially, for those feeling especially helpful, feel free to make other suggestions about how to approach these next 4-9 (yup, this I learned already!) as foolishly as possible.--Jake
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