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I may be purchasing my first new house from a developer and have a question. I am interested in buying a home in a luxury-type subdivision in the town I'm moving to next year. The final phase will start being sold in September with the finished houses starting to be released in April of 2002. Another, much larger subdivision I looked at there 2 months ago raised the price on their cheapest house from $368,000 to $418,000 about 2 weeks ago. The saleswoman at the subdivison I'm interested in says they are surely going to raise their prices, as well.

I'm also looking at existing homes, but there are fewer on the market than there are buyers, so anything nice seems to get sold within days. Last week two houses I was interested in sold before I could even drive out there to see them. The market there doesn't seem to have slowed down at all like the market here in San Francisco, where some houses in my neighborhood have taken a month or so to sell recently.

In such an environment, is there any point in trying to negotiate any extras if I decide to buy one of the new houses in the development I like, or am I dreaming? When my brother and his wife bought a new house about 5 years ago, they were able to get several upgrades thrown in. Is the sales office going to laugh in my face if I try this?

The agent I'm working with for the existing home search told me they had no slowdown during the winter like they usually do. Since I've been investigating house prices there since last fall, I know he is telling me the truth. Very little came on the market and everything sold very quickly. So buying in the fall won't put me in a stronger negotiating position unless the market there starts to lose steam by then. (The town recently passed a slow-growth measure whereby no new housing can be built without voter approval, so this is driving up the prices by crimping the supply.)


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