Do I Need to use a Realtor if I am Buying a New-Construction Home?
The short answer – YES! I get it, you are driving around on a Saturday afternoon, you see the new neighborhood going in and you want to go look at the model. You are greeted in the model home by a very helpful agent. The agent gets you to sign in with your personal information and asks a few questions. Then they invite you to walk through their homes. They give you floor plans, price sheets, and tell you about the community amenities. As you walk through the beautifully appointed model, you realize that this is “it.” This is “the one!” You try not to get excited but the agent finds you and tells you about their current incentives which include a premium lot and extra upgrades. They can get you set up with a lender and a title company – and if you use them, they will pay for some of your closing costs. Before you know it, your stomach is growling and you realize it is dark outside. You have spoken with a lender and talked through your wish list with the agent and she has written that on a builder contract.
WHOA. Take a step back. First of all, let me say, I know many wonderful agents that work for builders. They care about the potential homeowner and do a very good job communicating the process and helping them navigate through, what can sometimes be, rough waters. Let me also remind you that, those agents DO NOT work for you. They work for the builder. They have a fiduciary responsibility to take care of their client – and that is not you. Sometimes the incentives builders give can be a really good value. Other times, it may not be worth the risk to use their preferred providers. It is a good idea to have someone on your side. Someone who knows the right questions to ask and to go to bat for you if things go sideways at any point.
We had a client who was having a very nice home built with a very large, well-known, national builder. The builder’s sales agent tried her best to persuade our client not to get a home inspection. She indicated that their Quality Control team was so good that there are never any issues and that they recommend just coming in the day before closing to do a walk through and learn about their warranty. Our client took our advice and got a home inspection as well as walked through a week before closing to make notes of cosmetic items that are not normally a scope of work for home inspectors. To say it was less than perfect is an understatement. We started going up the executive ladder until, ultimately, we got the corporate office involved. We were working for the Buyer. Our only job was to take care of them and make sure they got the best product possible and were happy with the final product as well as made sure they were protected in the process.
So, next time you decide to walk in that model home without being represented by a Realtor, you may want to think twice. Remember that there is much more to building a house than picking out tile and paint colors. You may save money and get a great product or you may end up with a house that you aren’t proud of and spending more in the end to fix issues that were never taken care of to your satisfaction.
Michelle Froedge is a residential Realtor and Principal Broker in the Greater Nashville and Williamson County areas of Tennessee. Wife to Robert, “Mom” to Tyler and Livvie, Auntie to Zelamie, she is a vegetarian and sings in her spare time. Michelle has lived in Nashville and Franklin since 1997 and has been selling homes since 2004.