Falling prices can be bad for buyers

Custom homes, lease-options riskier in today's market

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

The home mortgage market is devilishly difficult to navigate in normal times. During a period in which home prices are declining, the difficulties are compounded. Problems I had never thought about before now pop up regularly in my mailbox. Here are a few of them: Constructing a Home Becomes More Hazardous: Constructing a home to one's own specifications is enormously appealing to many people. It is also a time-consuming process with many pitfalls that can cause delay, cost extra or both. John agreed with the lender on a combination loan, a construction loan that would convert into a permanent mortgage upon completion of construction, with a 5 percent down payment. The construction cost was $1 million, making the down payment $50,000. Construction took a year, at the end of which the lender had the house appraised and found it was worth only $800,000. This reduced the loan amount to $760,000 and forced the borrower to come up with $240,000 rather than the anticipated $50,...