Sometimes the home buying process can happen fast. You can go from “just looking” to signing a contract in less than 24 hours. I have seen this happen many times.
This can especially be true if are searching for a new construction home. Or if you just happen to stumble upon a community of new homes.
Your case may be different, you might be truly just be researching. Or you might have circumstances where you have to wait to buy.
Whether you are buying now or later, involving a professional early on in the process can save you time, protect your money and avoid potential contract headaches.
This is especially true when you find an agent that you can trust. Someone who has extensive experience with new construction homes. In fact these are 5 reasons for using a GOOD, talented and experienced agent who knows the new home process and has been through it many times over.
I am expert in new construction and currently am a real estate agent in Northern VA. If you want to go more in depth on new homes, check out my guide here.
Here is why you should use an agent when buying a new home.
1. Avoiding Surprises and Setting Expectations
This is a big one for buying new construction. Builders know how to wow you.
When you go into your first model home, it will look amazing. The finishes and staging are going to be way beyond what you will see in a resale home on the market.
The layouts are the most trendy and modern possible. The models even smell great.
But the model is just that, a model. Unless you are going to buy that actual model home (which does happen), it is almost guaranteed to be different from the home you will build.
And many times even if you put in all the upgrades the builder offers, some finishes are done only for the model home and are not even available as an option.
Another example is the pricing. The advertised price of a new home is often not what you end up paying.
The price advertised is known as the “base price”. This is the home if there were no other updates or other pricing factors. No “lot premiums”, all lowest level of finishes, no structural changes, the most basic layout… you get the picture. Nothing.
The chance of you buying a new home in a new community at a base price is negligible.
These are just two examples, the update level of the model home and the base pricing.
There are many nuances and industry standards you will not know going in. Having a seasoned professional on your side will help keep your expectations in line with reality. This makes for an overall better experience.
2. Negotiating the Best Deal
Having conversations about real estate is not just part of my job. It becomes everyday banter for all my acquaintances and friends.
I have found this: an overwhelming number of people who bought a new home did not try to negotiate with the builder at all. Many of them probably left money on the table.
Builder reps often will avoid this conversation, brush it aside or tell you that there is no room and you must buy now to have what you want, or someone else will snatch it up.
Now, sometimes that is true. If you have a real estate agent who keeps up with the new construction home market they will be able to tell you how slow or fast the market moves.
They will also be able to negotiate with the builder rep on your behalf. Builders are usually hesitant to negotiate on the price of the home, but you may be able to get additional options/finishes or other credits toward closing costs.
And sometimes, they will even move the price. If you do not have someone to negotiate for you, likely you will never know.
3. Real Estate Commissions are Offered by the Builder
Commissions are not set in stone, and there may be situations that are different. However, new home builders offer compensation to buyer’s agents regularly.
This is not a hard and fast rule. There may be times you need to pay your buyers agent, but more often than not in our market builders offer compensation to cover agent fees.
This means that you will not have to occur additional closing costs by having an agent represent you.
And the truth is, if you go in with no agent the builder will count that as a victory for them, not for you. Because you will be unrepresented and they will not have to pay your agent.
Builders are highly unlikely to give you a discount if you do not have an agent. Why? Because it sets a precedent of a reduced sale price for the community, town or whatever.
Builders are often selling multiple new construction homes in either the same area or, more obviously, in the same new community.
Lowering the sales price for any reason can mean they will have to lower their future sales as well as buyers see what homes sell for online.
As you can see, using an agent that has been through the process has little downside and can help you save money than going to the builder alone.
4. Navigating Home Inspections With the Builder
Homes inspections are often one of the last things on your mind when you are in the model home, signing a contract.
Home inspections contingencies are usually not a part of new build contracts. However, you can still tell the builder you will be getting an independent home inspection.
Some buyers skip the home inspection on a new home. After all, you will be getting code inspectors from the local government. This makes sure the home is built compliant to building codes.
But built to code and built well can be two different things. Code inspectors also can miss some items.
A quality real estate agent can help you not only navigate the inspection process, but can advocate to get some or most (occasionally all) items found by your home inspector fixed by the builder.
5. Reviewing Your Contract
I am going to let you in on a little secret of buying a new home. Builder contracts are written by the builder, for the builder.
The builder contracts I have come across often feature non refundable deposits, limited finance contingencies, flexible completion dates and more.
With a resale home, most of the homes use boilerplate Realtor Association contracts. Not so with builder contracts. Every builder uses different wording.
An agent who has seen a lot of these builder contracts both in writing and executed during transactions can help you to know what you are signing.
Some builders are better than others at explaining their contract. I have seen it all in builder contracts. In some cases you should insist to see if a section can be changed if it is too risky for you.
This is why it is important to have an agent on your side there with you as you visit new homes and upon the contract signing.
When to Reach Out to a Real Estate Agent
If you are getting a high quality real estate agent it is never to early to involve them in the the new construction process. From planning, to finding areas, to discussing and touring communities they can bring value.
Builders often will not recognize or cooperate with your agent if they are not with you when you tour their home or community on the first visit. So keep that in mind.
New homes and the new home buying process is different than buying a resale.
Find a real estate agent that specializes in new construction and you will be more prepared to get to the closing table without hiccups and with the best result possible.
Have questions? Reach out to me and let me know!