I only agree with half of your opinion, Henri. While that may hold true for building a custom home, it may NOT hold true for building in a subdivision.
We shopped short sales forever and ever, and I was about to pull my hair out. We'd probably STILL be shopping them if we would have stuck with it. It takes forever, nothings a guarantee, so soon we got sick of waiting months just to have the bank say no.
We built in a subdivision where we picked from a number of floor plans, chose the look of the outside of the house, chose the color of the outside, and then chose our upgrades. We built for LESS than any short sale on the listings in this area. ANY. We even got a 1/4 acre lot (in CA mind you) for CHEAP.
Ya, we don't have hardwood floors or granite countertops, but we love it because we chose everything about it and everything is exactly US. We put our upgrade money into things we definitely couldn't do ourselves or would be very difficult to do later (or require a contractor), like electrical, banisters, cabinets, changing a storage area into a half bath, a big tub in the master, adding the kitchen island, etc etc etc etc. We'll eventually change the flooring to hardwood or laminate and the countertops to granite (and a few other things that will be easily changable), and we'll STILL come in under any other builders' base prices and MOST short sales in this area.
Just pointing out that the market is different everywhere. Also pointing out that the builders are so desperate to build right now that many are offering huge incentives, and I know that because not only is our community still in the building stages, but so is the entire area. We have builders all around us, and they are all building like crazy, so they are all doing something really enticing.
And our house has already gained value, not officially by county assessor, but our community built new models starting 100,000 more in base price than our house, and the next neighboring community also built new models that start for 120,000-150,000 more than our house.
We struck while the iron was hot. If we would have waited a few more weeks to look out here we would have missed out as the new models are out of our price range.
Make a long story short: Don't rule out building. It's worth looking into how much that will cost vs. a short sale in the same area. Builders are offering lots of incentives, so if you hit the perks just right, you could end up with a gem of a deal!