Twenty years ago, builders of custom homes legitimately claimed they could build a new house cheaper than what it cost to buy an existing home of equal size and quality. They promised future homeowners instant equity.

It was largely true — appraisals at closing were inevitably higher than all-in costs of land and construction.

Then came the crash of 2008. Existing home prices cratered. Construction costs continued to rise. Appraisals did not support the cost of construction.

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