Lessons Learned

1st lesson learned
Best bang for the buck

Be patient.  The first time I called and talked about pricing I was quoted a price of about $260k +.  I determined I was not interested.  Later down the road I learned there are incentives available.  If you use NVR mortgage for example you get a deduction (-$7,500 in my case).  There may be a monthly special.  Work with your sales agent and continue to ask for discounts or any cost cutting measures you can.  I was told I bought at the ideal time (December) since Ryan Homes needed to make end of the year sales to meet company goals.  Bottom line is you can get the house for less than you think.

2nd lesson learned
They say yes until you sign then you will hear no a lot

Know exactly all the options you want before Ryan Sales Rep takes the deal to "corporate" for final approval.  I submitted an original offer and options and got a $15k discount off their asking price.  Afterwards, I wanted to add more options.  I did not get a discount on the additional options.  Its easier to say you want everything and remove it then to say you want less and add it.

3rd lesson learned
How the RH Sales Rep gets paid

Ryan employees get paid based on the sale of the house.  Not how much they charge you for the house.  If you want ask them what the price is based on their minimum amount of profit needed to make the sale.  If you are lucky they will offer that price to begin with.

4th lesson learned
Realtors should I take one or will I lose negotiating $

Take a realtor with you Ryan will not offer you a discount if you do not take one with you.  They have separate accounts for paying realtors.  They are paying for you to be represented whether you have it or not.  Again, they do not pass the savings on to you might as well get the realtor on their dime.

5th lesson learned
Guardian is costly

Guardian is a rip off.  If you can just put the upgrades in yourself or hire a contractor. Although Ryan will not authorize you to do this if you ask they will not physically try to stop you after their work day is over.  Make sure it is done right and will pass an building inspection.*

6th lesson learned
Don't re-invent the wheel

Talk to your neighbors (fellow bloggers) and see what problems and experiences they have/had.  Learn from their mistakes before it is to late to fix it with your house.  Examples I learned of where to add extra insulation between the interior walls to cut down on noise. Wrap the pipes to cut down on water noise.  Get a 20 foot wide driveway. Reconfigure the HVAC room walls to give yourself more living space. Find things out for yourself when it comes to "permit" issues if you ask the zoning board yourself what going on you may get the opposite answer RH will give you.  Get more light in the garage, stairwells, and smaller bathrooms.  Do the wiring for cable, phone, and surround sound yourself. 

7th lesson learned
The worst they can say is no

Ask for a lower interest rate from NVR.  I stalled them for about a week on my "lock in date" and finally said if you give me the lower closing costs "I will lock today." they jumped on it and I saved an additional 1,606.95. 

8th lesson learned
I said they heard

Pay close attention to the details on the pre drywall meeting.  I had so many mis-communications particularly with the placement of electric receptacles and light switches that it still bothers me to this day.  We have a walkout and they were not going to put a light switch in that controlled the flood lights.  Then I asked for a triple light switch socket to be put in and they put in two separate light switch outlets.  Which I felt was unnecessary.

9th lesson learned
Years later...

The garage is my biggest regret.  It is to small.  Knowing what I know now.  I would have walked on the whole deal if they would have refused to make the garage bigger.  I have two sedans both are Ford Taurus' I can barely jam them both in the garage it is horrible.  Not enough depth or width.  Demand a bigger garage!!


  1. Lesson # 5...wish i could have done it but would never attempt it with my PM. We aren't allowed in the house unsupervised and they definitely enforce it. Wouldn't put it past him to rip out any extra goodies he found in the house.

    Otherwise good info!

    1. Wow, I go in mine all the time. Although I had to make sure it was unlocked before I went after they installed the appliances.

    2. Ours would not allow us to put a single nail in the house before closing. We wanted to install a dog door in the wall before drywall and siding and they said no.. Actually, at the beginning they said we can work something out.. when we signed all the papers and asked later they said no.

  2. 8th Lesson Learned: I kept looking at the fireplace switch and forgot to inquire about whether or not I could have it moved to the other wall. My focus at the time was on all the light switches that I DID NOT want slapped on my backsplash and the relocation of phone jack. I would have had it installed on the opposite wall--not in the middle of the wall.

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  4. 4th lesson learned
    Realtors should I take one or will I lose negotiating $

    Just as a side note, I'm not sure if this is what you meant but I did not take a realtor with me and got a 5% discount by counter-offering.

    1. Getting the deal without the realtor will not give you additional money. Ryan Homes has a seperate account that they use to pay for a realtor for the buyer. You will not get a discount during the sales process for NOT bringing a realtor. You will get a discount for being a good negotiator.

      Example: I brought a realtor (RH paid her from a separate account that is not accessible by the sales rep. Who said you will not get a discount based on not bringing a realtor. This according to the sales rep herself.) And I got $15k off what they were asking, $15K off upgrades, and $7500 off for using nvr.

  5. Great list! For #4, our SR shared that they have a quota for the number of homes (e.g., 2 per month) and they get a pre-set amount for every home sold above that number. Of course, our SR also let us know RH can place a moratorium on sales for the month (across all communities in that district) if they're selling well.

    We were also surprised that they pay realtors on the base price of the home, so if you have $50,000 in options, it doesn't factor into the % RH pays the realtor.

    For lesson #5, did you have Guardian install any lines/cabling? If so, did you just run your extra wires along side Guardians? We're not at our premeeting yet, but I'd love to run some wiring for hard connections to a few more rooms in the house.

    I've flashed DD-WRT on a few wireless routers and APs, but nothing beats the stability of an ethernet connection.

    1. Interesting point. On Guardian in our area the offer 5 connections free and each after is about $150. We got 5 data connections. I put them all upstairs because it easier to work on the basement and 1st floor then to be running wires to the second floor.

      We then added about 22 more connections (mainly data and cable), pre wired for surround sound, and pre wired for 3 external speaker morning locations.

    2. Thanks for clarifying! We sucked it up and bought the 6 pack of outlets for $500 (they only gave 2 phone and 2 cable, and wouldn't budge on swapping the cable to phones). I have to give it to you on running the wiring for 22 connections, especially keeping in mind it has to pass inspection.

      A good tip I read was running the coaxial cable to shared/common walls so it'll be easy to splice and place an outlet/connection in the adjacent room (for those unlucky to have a strict PM). Of course I saw this tip AFTER our 30-day window to change Guardian items.

      Again, thanks for sharing this information. This is a really great page/post!

  6. Make sure everything is in writing!If you inquire about your hot water heater and they promise you it will be 70 gallons make sure you get that written down somewhere. We ended up with a 50 gallon after that promise and even though they admitted to the promise (Shocking that they admitted to it) we were told "This is what you get" in the end. Then we were told it was better than the 70 gallon one. Yeah, right.

    1. Did you find their to be less cooperation on RH part after signing on the dotted line or not much difference?

      In our case they delivered on everything so far. Not 100% satisfied but I would say 90% easy.

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    1. Appreciate the thoughts the goal is to let other learn from our experiences.

      Regarding #1
      When I first inquired about the monthly special it was 12k off the price. Then it flipped to 15k off 30k in upgrades. Really had nothing to do with the lot in my case anyway.

      Regarding #2
      Just for the record I am not upset but it was something that I noted...the bend over backwards for you was kind of replaced by a sympathetic "sorry we cant". At the end of the day that was usually replaced with well for "another thousand" we can.

      Regarding #4
      I felt the same way but I point blank asked them will i get money off by not bringing a realtor? Can you give me 7% off. They basically said no. They told me they asked about it do to the separate account. In other words somebody else handles that not the sales rep and they need to be notified of whether they need to cut a check or not.

      Keep researching happy building!

  8. Let me first apologize for hijacking your post and thank you for the tips.

    1st lesson:
    The monthly special is usually the site that no one wants (close to the road, bad grading, small land, etc..) so they discount it to complete a built phase for that part of the development area.

    2nd lession:
    I couldn't agree more with you on this. They will not even remember your name after you signed the contract. Adding everything and remove later does not work, we kinda tried. They will NOT give you FULL LISTED VALUE of the item when you remove it. They will tell you that it was discounted in the total price. We try to remove the basement that was listed for $18000 but if we remove it, it's only worth.....drum roll..... $4000. WHAT!!!!! It's a trap and you have not recourse but to keep the option of take a huge hit on it. The basement example was the worst case being less than 1/4 of original value. We try to remove our hardwood floor because we didn't like the selection but we would only get back 2/3 of the listed price so we ended up keeping it. TRAP!!!

    3rd lesson:
    This might be true but they probably also get bonuses if they make more profit for the company.

    4th lesson:
    I didn't know that they still give you the same discount if you didn't have realtor. The first thing they ask us was will we be using a realtor and we said no, hoping to get better discount if we didn't.

    5th lesson:
    Agree with you 110%. Gardian needs to go. They are getting a free ride from RH unless RH is sharing the 100% pure profit they are taking from their buyers. RH is actually providing a dis-service to their customers by locking in with Gardian and their CRAZY pricing. They are at least 10x over priced vs DIY. I bet if RH do a servey for Guardian, It will have 99% negative votes.

    6th lesson:
    Agree, real people, real home owners are the best to learn from.

    7th lesson:
    We are no there yet :).

    8th lesson:
    We are no there yet :)

  9. Price Negotiations: Lessons 1 and 2.. Most excellent points..

    I can relate to those two beyond belief.. The initial price is always high. Ask the SR to take it to management for a discount. They will always come back with something less (it was always $7,000 in my case).. at that point name your price and wait. Say that you WILL come and sign right now at that price.. and wait. If the SR is worth his salt he will call or email you weekly to see if you have come to your senses and want to accept their figure. Insist on not changing your price.. They might come back with other deals, but if you know your budget and know it is not a far stretch from what they offer, don't budge.

    On a good month for them when they have sold multiple lots, they won't care much about you, but on a bad month when the month is almost over they had not met their quota, they will remember that you are out there and WILL sign at a set price. If they want to make the sale happen, they will come to their senses and accept your offer, or come so close not to matter - true story.

    I did not know that the special of the month is on the least loved lot, but it makes sense. I was able to take that special and put it on another lot, then switch the finished basement for the more expensive fifth bedroom at no extra cost..

    The most important thing, is to get every single option you want at the very beginning, then request a quote and play the waiting game above. As you point out they will not give you break on anything you add after signing, so your only opportunity to negotiate anything is before signing. So make sure to include the none standard requests up front.. I thought that a very wise move would be to include things that you know will cost them little, such as expensive flooring upgrades, where they know they won't lose much by giving you a hefty discount, then after you sign, and within the first two weeks you can remove all the flooring and add hardwood stairs, lots and lots of concrete, windows galore, etc - true story..

    From reading Cloud Clou's comments above, it seems that this is not always the case. Our SR did not hesitate to remove all flooring and a fridge from the initial quote for example. He said as long as our bottom line price does not drop below what we signed the contract for, anything is game in the first two weeks. But our SR is really phenomenal..

    I don't understand lesson 3..

    Guardian is costly.. hear hear, this man speaks wisely!

    Don't re-invent the wheel. Yes, most of my changes are based on things i learned from your blog, and a few others..

    I will have to pay close attention to the details on the pre drywall meeting. Thanks for warning about the mis-communications particularly with the placement of electric receptacles and light switches.. I added about 20 extra outlets throughout the house, and at $75 to $200 a pop, errors will cut like a knife..

    1. We tried to remove the "Finished Basement" and apply that toward other options but was told that it's only worth $4000 credit (On price sheet was $18000).
      Same thing when we wanted to remove the first floor hardwood and the basement bathroom. We would lose a very significant amount if we remove those options so we ended up keeping them.

    2. Sorry to hear that. I have to run that by our SR who is very straight forwards and forthcoming with answers. He has been PM and SR with RH for close to 10 years. I'll see what he says about your experience. It is possible that he may have simply done us a favor.

  10. Here's a good one.....we paid attention to almost all the little detail...except RH decide to finish construction on in late December and forcing us to close right before Christmas or pay penalty. We were planning to see family for the holidays across the country, so now they added the stress of moving to a new house along with the holiday travel, gifts buying, etc before we leave. DEALING WITH RH SALES IS LIKE GOING TO A USED CAR DEALERSHIP...NEVER TRUST ANYTHING THEY TELL YOU!!!!