Just as it’s never a good idea to use the homeowner’s real estate agent when buying an existing home, it’s unwise to use the builder’s agent, and here’s why:
The seller’s agent, whether a homeowner or a builder, has one overriding aim: to get the owner the most amount possible for the home
The buyers’ agent, on the other hand, seeks to help his or her client spend as little as possible for a home. See how the duties of both buyer’s and seller’s agents are at odds with one another?
Regardless of how friendly, knowledgeable, and eager the builder’s agent is, you need your own representation.
Prolific real estate blogger and Massachusetts RE/MAX agent Bill Gassett provides some useful points that you may not have considered regarding buying a new home in his blog post, “6 Reasons You Need a Buyer’s Agent when Buying New Construction.” A few of his points from this post that I find particularly helpful include;
1. Your agent can help ensure you hire the right builder.
Bill states that without a doubt, “one of the top reasons why you should have a buyer’s agent when purchasing a new home is to be able to get a professionals advice on the reputation of the builder.”
He continues, “One of the greatest things about working with a good Realtor is that you benefit from his or her network of agents, vendors, lenders and other industry professionals. Word gets around when businesses or service providers don’t take care of their customers in the real estate industry.
If there is a builder in your area that isn’t reputable, chances are the agent will know about it. On the flip side, he or she is likely to have heard about the builders that go above and beyond for their customers.”
Bill finishes this this point by stating, “Some builders have an exceptional reputation for delivering homes on time. Others are the exact opposite. In fact, one of the greatest complaints you find from those buying new construction is the builder’s inability to complete the home on time.”
This is so true. When you walk into a model home on site at a new construction neighborhood, you are seeing a perfect world scenario created to draw you in! They put every option and upgrade imaginable to show off what the builder can do “for you.”
Yet, without any other experience to see beyond just what they are trying to sell you, you really have no idea what the reputation is of that home builder. As an agent, I can tell you of multiple experiences on different transactions working with various local builders, not just through closing, but beyond. Over the years, I’ve received feedback from past clients and their experiences in how well their builder may have handled first year warranty work (or didn’t). I could tell you of sterling reputations several builders in our market have built up over the years and of those that I’d stay clear away from if I were you!
2. Your agent will negotiate on your behalf.
Just to expound on my original point related to duties of each agent in a transaction, according to Bill, “When buying new construction it is imperative that you have a buyer’s agent. Someone who is in your corner representing your best interests. You do not want to go directly to the listing agent in most circumstances. In many states, this is what’s referred to as dual agency.”
Bill added, “A real estate agent is supposed to explain how dual agency works but many agents don’t know themselves or explain it in a way that makes it sound perfectly fine for a consumer. It is not. A Dual agent is a neutral party in the sale. They are not allowed to guide you as a buyer’s agent would by law!
With dual agency, you have nobody in your corner to negotiate on your behalf. Dual agency is, in fact, the dumbest thing that was ever created in the real estate industry.”
In Georgia, dual agency thankfully doesn’t exist, but if you are an unrepresented buyer, it’s the same difference. That builder’s agent is not allowed to give you any advice or counsel regarding the process.
3. Your agent will make sure all the paperwork, including the contract, is in order.
Bill concluded, “Having a buyer’s agent isn’t just important when buying a new home. Having a fiduciary in your corner is always important. Many folks often wonder what does a buyer’s agent do for you. Real estate purchases involve a lot of paperwork, documents that can be confusing and overwhelming. Your agent will make sure all the paperwork is filled and filed correctly.
He or she will also help you review any contracts you sign to make sure you are protected and that you are getting what you think you are getting. Your agent will verify that all aspects of the contract are understood by you and that you are OK with them. If there are any issues, the agent will notice them and be capable of explaining them clearly to you and to the builder.”
Now, instead of using an agent with divided loyalties, you have your own representative who will go to bat for you in negotiating upgrades and extras, guide you during the inspections and assist you in taking care of all those details during the transaction that will lead to a successful closing!
To be safe, I always recommend that you ask your agent to accompany you on the first visit. If that isn’t possible, let your agent know you’re going to tour a few new construction neighborhoods and ask them to contact the builder’s agents to register you as their clients. That will also “keep the wolves away” in terms of setting the stage where the builder’s agent knows you have representation and so they won’t put the “hard sell” on you when you walk in the door of the model home! Happy house hunting and enjoy!