One of the more frequent battles that I encounter as a real estate broker is the fact that many members of the general public think that we are only licensed to sell resale homes, or that builders don’t work with agents at all. It may surprise you to realize that a significant percentage of our sales are brand-new homes (at least 30-40% these days).
If you are considering a new home purchase in Austin, you owe it to yourself to get an agent to represent you during this transaction.
“But why? Can’t I just do it myself?”
The quick answer is “yes”, but with a few warnings. You can just walk into a model, pick a home you like, and get started, assuming you qualify for the mortgage. However, there are a few pervasive myths that I would like to cover, just so that you fully understand the situation.
MYTH #1 – “I will get a better deal without an agent involved.”
This is one of the most common misperceptions that I deal with, year in and year out. If you go directly to the builder, you will probably NOT get a better deal, unless you are dealing with a disreputable builder, or a builder that would prefer not to see a Realtor involved for whatever reason. It could be that they are simply a small company trying to save money, but it could also be that they have shoddy workmanship, which is something that a good agent will know about or will spot when walking through their homes.
Instead, what happens when you are on your own is:
- You have no one representing your interests in case there is a disagreement later. This is not as rare as you might think.
- The builder will not share their savings with you. Instead, they just pocket more money.
Our commission is built into their prices already, but they can’t just pay this to unlicensed individuals. Times may seem tough, but they get a significant percentage of their sales from professional Realtors, so they also don’t want to get known as the company that shuns agents. It may sound a little harsh, but it is the truth.
MYTH #2 – “There is a Realtor working at the model who can help us.”
False. The majority of the new home salespeople that I have encountered are not licensed Realtors at all. They are not required to be licensed by the state of Texas for this position. Instead, they are employees of the builder. Who do you think they are representing? Who will they “side with” if problems should arise? They aren’t necessarily like “Salesy McGee” (see picture to the right), but they also don’t have as much accountability as we do as licensees.
But surely all of the contracts are the same, right? Actually, no. Unless you are dealing with a small company, almost every builder has its own proprietary paperwork that you must sign, which is steeped in legalese and heavily weighted in favor of the builder. Most of the time, this is not a big issue, but I have saved clients from signing various strange addenda over the years at model homes.
MYTH #3 – The prices aren’t really negotiable and the price list shows what they will accept for the house I like
Two weeks ago, one of my agents saved her client over $25,000 on the purchase of a $180,000 spec home with a local builder. “Spec” homes are homes that are already built or underway. In this case, the builders are typically much more motivated to sell them because they will be paying carrying costs and taxes until they are off the books. Additionally, they need to sell these in order to free up money for interim construction financing.
The bottom line is that there are a number of ways to save money when purchasing a new home. Is the home in a brand-new development or section? Are they closing out an area and trying to move on to a new project? All of these things can affect their bottom line.
Our team is well-versed on all of these techniques, and we would love to help.
MYTH #4 – All new homes in my price range are created equal
I can’t state this emphatically enough: There are builders in Austin (and everywhere else, for that matter) that you should avoid! We can help you to avoid some major pitfalls, simply by helping you to determine which builders are worth your time and which ones aren’t.
Sometimes, the mere mention of a specific builder carries a stigma when you are looking to sell your home later.
Why risk problems like this when they can be handled on the front end?
MYTH #5 – I must use the builder’s lender for my loan
This is not true. You can use whichever lender you prefer. However, there are times when the builder’s incentives are good enough that it is more sensible to use their preferred lender. Most of the lenders for large builders in Austin are wholly-owned subsidiaries for the builder.
We can help you to weigh your options. If the builder is only offering to pay the title policy for you if you use their company, this may not be adequate if they jack the rate up. On the other hand, if they are offering 9 discount points (as one of my clients received earlier this year), you would be silly to pass that up.
SUMMING THINGS UP
The bottom line is that buying a new home is a huge commitment of your time and money, and to attempt this without having an agent is not wise or sound thinking. You might have a terrific experience, or you might end up in a nightmare with little recourse. Builders have done a very effective job of marketing themselves in such a way that it makes the entire process seem very easy (i.e. anyone can handle this).
There are certainly buyers that really can handle this themselves, but there’s no need. If you are reading this as a potential home buyer, you don’t know me yet. Please allow me to earn a bit of trust from you with this statement: You owe it to yourself to have an agent help with your new home purchase. Even if you don’t like me or my team, I would still highly recommend finding SOMEONE to help. The risks are great enough that it just makes good sense.
If you are considering Austin Texas new homes, give us a shout. We are laid-back and very knowledgeable. I would love the opportunity to put my 12 years of experience in Austin to work for you! You can visit our primary Austin homes website here: http://www.austintexashomes.com. I can be reached at 512-796-7653 (cell) or by email at email@example.com. Thanks!
Jason Crouch, Broker/Owner – Austin Texas Homes, LLC