Builder’s price-dropping bad for home values

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DEAR BENNY: We bought a brand-new home in January for $709,000, but the builder is now selling similar homes in our community for $200,000 less. My neighbors and I are thinking of seeking legal advice because they are deliberately bringing the values down. --Steve DEAR STEVE: I don't defend developers and builders, and in fact have filed my share of lawsuits for clients against them. But I cannot agree that your builder is deliberately bringing the values down. The real estate market is in bad shape, and property values in many parts of the country are depressed. Developers are using all sorts of gimmicks and come-ons (such as free plasma TV sets, or two-year free car rentals) to entice to sign contracts. I haven't researched this area of the law in several years, but my recollection is that you will have a hard time convincing a judge that the developer is in the wrong. The judge could, of course, issue an injunction, directing that the sales price be higher -- but what good would tha...