Recently, I was asked if I would rather buy a new construction home or an existing, older home and I replied, “Honestly, that depends on a lot of different factors because there are pros and cons to both, but one thing is for certain, I would definitely hire a real estate agent either way.” Most often, people get the idea that they don’t particularly need a real estate agent to represent them when buying new construction. They would rather deal with the builder or the sales representative directly and cut out the “hassle of a middle man”. While that may seem like it’s a better way to go, let’s briefly explore some of the reasons why you should hire an agent when buying new construction homes.
Just Sign-In Here
If you have ever been to an upcoming development where they allow you to see model homes, then you are probably familiar with the typical sales representative ready and eager to take you around the neighborhood, show you all the available floor plans, and map out your dream home for you. All they ask you to do you first is to fill out their sign-in sheet with your information. Okay, no biggie, right? You just want to be able to get on with the touring part of the visit. Well, here is the biggie: signing-in can make it almost impossible or difficult for you to use your own agent that you might currently be working with or one that you might want to hire when you are ready to buy a home in that development. Builders may use that “sign-in sheet” as a way to restrict any realtor from getting involved in your transaction, even when you come to a point of wanting one involved. In order to avoid this particular issue, you can do one of three things: 1) Always bring the agent you are working with to every development, model home, or builder meeting you may attend. 2) If you have to go without your agent present, make it clear and known that you are working with one and be sure to give your realtor’s name and information prior to signing-in. If this doesn’t satisfy the builder’s policy, refuse to sign-in and come back at better time. 3) Be sure to reserve the right to use a realtor in the future if you are currently unrepresented and do not sign-in without the builder guaranteeing to honor your right.
The Grass is Not Greener
Buyers tend to think that if they work with a builder without bringing their own real estate agent into the mix then the builder will somehow give them a better deal or reduce their selling price. While the builders certainly may make it seem so, this false notion can prove to be too costly a mistake on the buyers part. Here is the truth: builders already calculate the expense of paying an agent’s commission into their projected costs and expected profits whether you work with one or not. They may use words like, “Oh we’ll throw in this bonus or that upgrade,” and make it sound like it’s worth it to work with them directly, but at the end of the day, they do not have your best interests at heart. Their “bonuses” or “upgrades” are also costs that have already been built in to their calculations and these sweet talks are just convenient ways to appease a buyer’s request for a better deal. This is why you should hire an agent when buying new construction homes. They can help you understand what kind of deal you are really getting. Furthermore, buyers sometimes fail to realize that list price is usually the baseline price without any upgrades and low-grade finishes and amenities. They don’t always understand that factors such as lot location, layout, model type, and appliances can drive the price up. Instead, they go on picking the best of the best on everything and, of course, the builder’s sales representative will gladly help them choose the finest options available. A real estate agent however can step in and help a buyer know which upgrade is worth it and which one can be done at a later time for a cheaper price.
Their Way or the Highway
Another reason why you should hire an agent when buying new construction homes is that they know what you are entitled to. See, most often when you are looking to buy new construction homes, builders will likely give you their list of “Preferred Lenders” and make it seem like you have to use their lender when in reality you have every right to use whoever you choose. They probably won’t say it outright but, boy, will they push and suggest till it feels like you have to go with their way. This is because most of the time builders might have some financial incentive for recommending their lender, but ultimately that’s all it is – their recommendation. Now, let me be clear. This doesn’t at all mean that their preferred lenders are not good ones. In fact, they may be the perfect choice for you. The only thing to remember here is that you do have a choice. Your real estate agent knows this and will be there to remind you that you do not have to go with any lender you do not wish to. Additionally, just like with the lender situation, it is important to note that the buyer has a right to have any inspection they want done. Just because a home is newly built does not mean that it is not subject to have some major issues. Sometimes builders cut corners or they simply make mistakes. They are human after all. Knowing that you can, and probably should, order your own inspection could potentially save you from disastrous consequences.
Your True Advocate
Here is the bottom line, folks. Hiring a real estate agent to represent you in any situation is to your benefit. When it comes to new construction homes, sales representatives that you meet at model houses in new developments work for the builder, not you. They are hired by the builder and are paid by the builder. They have no obligation to you. A real estate agent does. They have a fiduciary duty to look out for you as their client. They know what your rights are as a buyer and will not let you be bullied or robbed. They are aware of simple things a buyer might not remember, like, the fact that you cannot just verbally agree or shake hands on something but that everything should be in writing to be legally binding. An agent also has their own contracts that can be used which protect you, not just the builder. In the event that a builder insists on using their own contract, an agent has the knowledge to review that contract and add in protection for you if necessary. Also, they can prepare you to expect delays when dealing with new construction homes. If the home is not already build and ready to move in, there are several things that can delay the construction process. Weather, material delivery, inspections by local authorities, or even decisions made by the buyer that aren’t decided upon in time (such as the type of cabinets, countertops, appliances, etc.) are all factors that can contribute to the delay of a home being built. Unless you are ready and willing to stay on top of things, a realtor can simultaneously keep tabs on the builder and the closing process and stay on top of the job, ensuring that it doesn’t become your job. And as an added bonus to why you should hire an agent when buying new construction homes is that they can and absolutely will give you other options and show you what else is available on the market if new construction doesn’t pan out. You can definitely try going through the process on your own and choose to work directly with a builder and their sales rep, and it may be fantastic. But, if you do want someone who is on your side and will fight for you, then find an agent who knows and understands new construction homes well and has skills that are useful to you. Keep in mind, the builder pays the agent’s commission (they’ve already accounted for it anyway), so, go ahead and find yourself the best real estate agent out there and hire them to champion for you.