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If a builder's warranty, shiny appliances, custom upgrades and low maintenance are high on your list, a new house is the way to go.

If big rooms, expansive yards, lots of square footage and an established neighborhood are more your cup of tea, new is not for you.

With new homes, according to Realtor Steven Sharp of Keller Williams Realty, buyers can be choosy, paying about the same price for a smaller house with desired upgrades or a slightly larger home with fewer niceties.

Earlier this week, the Times Free Press received access to four new houses priced around $200,000 -- affordable for many first-time home buyers -- in four areas of Hamilton County to compare the features in each.

"At that price point, you can play the amenities game," said Sharp, who is not the listing agent for any of these properties.

The houses, priced from $195,900 to $209,900, had three or four bedrooms, two or three bathrooms, two-car garages, gas log fireplaces, decks and sidewalks in growing neighborhoods.

Two were split-foyer houses, one three stories and one a story and a half. Three of the four were on desired corner lots, one neighborhood offered a community pool (under construction), and one provided a community park (yet to be outfitted).

In general, the four had smaller yards and less square footage than established houses. Typically, he said, owners in new neighborhoods may have to put up with ongoing construction

Yet, he said, they're very appealing for buyers "who don't want to have to do any work," are in a "growing part of the county" and "have a neighborhood feel."


Price: $199,900.

Address: 597 Sir Carlos Drive, Soddy-Daisy.

Schools: North Hamilton County, Soddy-Daisy Middle, Soddy-Daisy High.

Size: 2,152 square feet.

Bedrooms: 4.

Bathrooms: 3.

Lot size: 125 feet by 94 feet.

Description: Brick and vinyl home with red accents is on corner lot and has stacked-stone accented entrance and tray-ceilinged split foyer. Open upper-floor living area features family room with vaulted ceiling and gas fireplace, separate dining room with wainscoting, kitchen with granite countertops, appliance package, brick and tile backsplash and eat-in breakfast nook. A rear deck offers additional entertainment space. Master suite has tray ceiling, crown molding, walk-in closet and bath with jetted tub and shower. One of the two additional bedrooms has a walk-in closet. Lower level, which has full bath, could be bedroom, media room or playroom. Garage includes large storage room and has easy-to-clean epoxy floors.

Sharpe: "It has a Craftsman feel."


Price: $209,900.

Address: 8512 Fenwick Drive.

Schools: Ooltewah Elementary, Ooltewah Middle, Ooltewah High.

Size: 1,750 square feet.

Bedrooms: 3.

Bathrooms: 2.

Lot size: Not available.

Description: Stacked-stone entrance with designer-glass door gives way to open living room/kitchen/dining area. Living room has stacked-stone gas fireplace below an area wired for a flat-screen television. Large dining area adjoining kitchen has attractive wainscoting. Split-bedroom plan features master with jetted tub, shower, granite countertop and porcelain tile in bath and two additional bedrooms through the kitchen on the other side of the house. Extras include small bonus room above garage, crown molding, tile backsplash, buyer's ability to choose appliances, covered back porch, and brick and Hardie board siding.

Sharpe: "I like the openness. ... It has a compact lot [with] not a lot of upkeep. ... It's quiet. ... There's still a lot of building to be done" in the neighborhood. ... It's perfect if you're "looking for a neighborhood feeling."


Price: $200,900.

Address: 9240 Wood Dale Lane.

Schools: Daisy Elementary, Soddy-Daisy Middle, Soddy-Daisy High.

Size: 1,810 square feet.

Bedrooms: 3.

Bathrooms: 2.

Lot size: 75 feet by 120 feet.

Description: As with Nature Trail home by same Bell Development builder, brick and vinyl home with red accents is on a corner lot and has stacked-stone entrance and tray-ceilinged split foyer. Upper floor has gas fireplace, tile floor and flat-screen television wall space. Open kitchen area offers eat-in breakfast nook, large pantry, appliance package and granite countertop all adjoining a more formal dining space. Master bath has dual vanities, shower, tub with tile surround, tray ceiling and crown molding. Hall with hardwood floor off living area leads to two additional bedrooms. Basement has utility room and unfinished space for bedroom, den or office and is fitted for a bath. Garage includes large storage room and easy-to-clean epoxy floors.

Sharpe: Exterior of corner house has "Craftsman features." ... Is in cozy "back of neighborhood. ... Has "up and down feel." ... Small backyard prohibits much outdoor entertaining.

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