The idea of a customized, new residential construction house is enticing to some prospective homeowners, but the process to get there can be grueling. Working with a buyer’s agent along the way can help ensure you negotiate the best price possible and avoid setbacks.
Traditional selling points like historic charm in existing homes may not seem so charming to everyone – that’s why many people seek out a newly built residence, find a lot in a masterplan community or enter into the process of building a home from the ground up.
“Each buyer has unique preferences as to what they look for in a potential home. A lot of people want to own a new home at least once in their life,” says Jack Ryan, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Premiere Group in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
But when it comes to the toiling processes involved with new construction – from locking down a builder to working around delays to securing a price point – it’s critical to have proper representation along the way.
If you’re seeking a fresh start with a new-build home or are breaking ground on one soon, here are a few reasons why you might consider working with a buyer’s agent.
Real estate agents can help narrow down which type of new construction is the best fit
Whether it’s wanting a home with more energy-efficient features, longer warranties on appliances, or an open-concept floor plan, there are plenty of reasons why consumers desire a clean slate.
Elaine Payne, an agent with RE/MAX Exceptional Properties in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, believes consumer demands often parallel the world around them – and in today’s fast-paced, tech-powered world, some buyers are moving away from the concept of a fixer-upper.
“Generations ago, you were just glad to get a home and then you made it into what you wanted it to be over time. Now, people are looking for turnkey properties,” Payne says. “Our lifestyles are so fast, and buyers are looking for convenience. They don’t want to live through the remodeling process of an older home.”
Some buyers want a fully customized dream home, while others seeking new construction homes choose a planned development with choices on a few specifics, like paint colors and building materials. In an industry where business is built on relationships, real estate agents are well connected with reliable resources in their markets – like home builders – and stay up to date on property development.
“We try to match buyers up with current construction in the area or what would be the best [recently built] home for them,” says Robert Little, an agent with RE/MAX Advantage in Henderson, Nevada, outside Las Vegas. “It’s part of our value proposition. We stay up to date on the building of new communities, and we stay in contact with new-home sales agents and the area’s major builders.”
“It’s important for a buyer to have a buyer’s agent that is experienced with both new construction and resale construction because we can explore all options, including ones they hadn’t thought of. Sometimes, there could be a resale transaction in the community that’s only a year or two old and that’s a better deal for the buyer,” Little adds.
Real estate agents can translate information between client and builder
There are advantages to working with an agent who is focused solely on the buyer’s side of the transaction, including being able to go to bat for the buyer’s specific needs without having to worry about also representing the home builder. And when navigating new construction, the client’s voice needs to be heard.
“A buyer’s agent is going to negotiate for the buyer, they’re going to help the buyer address timelines, and during the construction phase, they’re going to communicate with the lender and communicate with escrow,” Little says.
Lingo used throughout the building process may be unfamiliar to the average homebuyer. Regularly communicating with builders, agents can relay information to their client in digestible terminology. And when a buyer has little expertise in the residential construction sector, it’s important to have a representative comfortable with negotiating on deliverables and cost to ensure the finished product matches the buyer’s wishes.
Real estate agents can navigate evolving market factors
COVID-19 has disrupted market activity in most locales across the country, driving up home prices in suburban communities – and driving up demand for homes everywhere.
Nashville, Tennessee, for example, is seeing tremendous suburban growth and new construction. According to the latest RE/MAX National Housing Report, homes in the greater Nashville area have the lowest days on market out of 52 metro areas around the U.S. Payne says builders “ truly can’t build fast enough” to keep up with the heightened demand.
“Because of the short supply in the Nashville metro area, all of the surrounding bedroom communities are flourishing,” Payne says of her market.
The most recent U.S. Census reported that 614,000 new homes in the U.S. had been sold in 2021 as of September. Following a recent spike in the cost of building materials – like lumber and copper – and amid ongoing supply chain shortages, these new builds are seeing increasingly delayed timelines.
“When I was representing several local builders, it would take 60 to 90 days for them to build a house. Nowadays, they’re saying to expect it to take anywhere from nine months to a year because of the current shortages,” Ryan says.
In his local market, Ryan is seeing builders implementing escalation clauses on the cost of materials, letting buyers know that the final price of the home is subject to change. Even in pre-COVID times, buyers were already paying a premium on new construction compared to the cost of existing residential homes.
In times of uncertainty, it can be comforting to align with a professional who has time-backed experience with all types of residential sales and specializes in new-home construction.
Real estate agents can ensure an overall sound process
Despite the home being brand new, a buyer’s agent will still insist on a home inspection to save the buyer from untimely repairs. Having seen scores of homes throughout their career, the agent will have a sharp eye for detecting issues.
They will also offer helpful advice along the way, like advising their client on which upgrades to invest in through the home builder or which to implement themselves with outside sources down the road to save on material markups.
“When something goes wrong after the client moves in, and they don’t want to go to the builder right away, the first place they can go for guidance is their real estate agent,” Ryan says.
“Something I think a lot of buyers take comfort in is knowing there’s somebody on their side.”