There seems to be preconceived notions that real estate agents provide little or no value when consumers are purchasing brand-new homes; that there is no reason for a salesperson to be involved because they don’t do any work; that they simply walk into the builder’s office, sign a piece of paper, and hope the client falls in love with the model home. Well, nothing could be further from the truth.
Purchasing a new home directly from a builder without representation from a knowledgeable and experienced real estate professional is very dangerous for buyers. If your salespeople are experienced in helping clients purchase brand-new homes, they can provide a lot of value by helping consumers avoid mistakes and save significant amounts of money. They can offer buyers insights with comparables in the market, including what others have paid for homes in the same development. Buyer’s agents who are experienced in new-home construction will have information about the builder’s history. They will also be able to walk buyers through the details of the contract.
REALTORS® have a fiduciary duty to their clients. They must abide by the Code of Ethics and a strict code of conduct. Violating these codes can result in fines and suspension of license. Help your agents explain the advantages to buyers of having a REALTOR® throughout the home buying process.
Train and educate your salespeople on how to advise clients on new-home construction. Help them learn how to read blueprints and understand site design and the materials and methods of construction. Buyer’s agents can take the Certified New Home Specialist educational courses through the Council of Residential Specialists; brokers should consider taking these courses as well. This will provide a solid foundation on new-home sales. But nothing beats training or shadowing brokers or sales agents who have firsthand experience working with builders in your local market.
Here are three common misconceptions about working with builders and ways real estate practitioners can help buyers. Pass these on to your salespeople:
- Builders don’t negotiate – FALSE. However, it is important to know when to negotiate, what points are negotiable, and how to do it effectively. As with many things in life, timing is key. Knowing when to pull the trigger on a new home and when to hold off can make or cost clients money. For example, it is common for builders to increase pricing between phase releases (even on homes from a previous phase that have not been purchased), so reserving a property the day before the next phase release and price increase can mean instant equity.
- Buyer’s agents can’t be involved throughout the process – FALSE. Although most builders will not allow real estate practitioners to be involved during certain inspections and walk-throughs, there are plenty of points for involvement that can protect the consumer. Construction is organized chaos. With so many moving parts happening at the same time, it is easy for details to be overlooked and forgotten. For example, agents can help buyers keep a list of all their upgrades and custom features (including written documentation of all verbal instructions between the buyer and builder). During periodic construction walk-throughs, and especially the final walk-through, the buyer should have these lists handy to ensure everything was incorporated per their specifications. It is not hard for a construction crew to overlook installing a few additional electrical outlets. If the client has the proper documentation, the builder will not have an issue correcting the situation.
- What you see is what you get – FALSE. There are always additional costs. Total acquisition cost is important to understand. Buyer’s agents can identify and thoroughly outline all the costs involved for their buyers to help them avoid surprises.
Reprinted from realtor.org, February 2015, with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright February 2015. All rights reserved. http://www.realtor.org/