Builders who think their buyers need some help filling out a J.D. Power and Associates survey might want to think again.

The customer satisfaction surveyors recently asked buyers if the builder had tried to coach or influence their answers. The buyers who had that experience saw it as a blatant attempt at manipulation. On average, the scores of those builders were about 12 percent lower than those of builders who didn't try to monkey with the responses.

“In some markets of the country, a 12 percent drop could take a builder who ranks in the top three and put them below average,” says Dale Haines, a director in J.D. Power's real estate industries division. “That's a huge drop.” Overall, only about 6 percent of the buyers surveyed reported that their builder attempted to influence their responses. The same percentage of car buyers report that the dealer tried to get them to turn in a glowing survey. For builders who do try to manipulate survey results, Haines says it's a waste of time.

“The customers don't like it,” he says. “It doesn't work. I've been in this business for 21 years, and it's never worked.”