Buying a New Home – Use a Buyers Agent to Negotiate the Best Deal With Custom Home Builders

If you’re in the market for a new home, you probably do like a lot of people do: Drive around from builder to builder, talking to many different sales representatives in each of the sales offices. I know. I’ve been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and it’s no fun. But did you know that strategy may be costing you money?

You actually are missing some golden opportunities in the negotiation process if you take the “go it alone” approach and hit the pavement yourself. Sure, you get to fill up your gas tank a few times and get frustrated hearing all the different sales pitches from each builder, but you can live with that. It’s the money you want to save, right?

The problem is that buying directly from the builder with no agent representing you means you don’t have an advocate on your side who knows the market and can potentially bring you better prices and terms. If you use the sales agent assigned to you when you show up in the on-site sales office, they are not acting as your agent but as the builder’s agent. They’re job is to represent the builder, not you.

Use a buyer’s agent to purchase a new home

On the other hand, there is a tremendous benefit to using a buyer’s agent to help you buy a new home. Not just any buyer’s agent, of course; it’s important to use an agent who specializes in new homes and knows the local builders. Your agent’s knowledge of the many builders in your area is what will give you the edge over the buyer walking into the model home or sales office off the street.

The reason it’s so beneficial to have a buyer’s representative on your side is that the home builders are in competition for your business. If you don’t know the deals available down the street or across town, you won’t know to bring that up in your negotiation. Besides, who really likes negotiating, anyway? An agent who specializes in new homes and knows those builders will be aware of the buyers’ incentives they offer and can help negotiate one for you.

In addition, when you have a buyer’s agent, they have a legal fiduciary duty to advocate on your behalf. A buyer’s contract with an agent specializing in new home sales ensures that you’ll get better advocacy at the negotiating table and the potential for a sweetheart deal that only an agent who brings the builders volume business could get.

Custom Home Builders Accommodate Buyers In A Changing Market

After the recent year or so in a sluggish market, custom home builders are making strides in meeting the expectations and desires of their buyers. While recuperating from a slow housing economy, custom home builders are finding solace and increasing sales by giving buyers what they want in the form of upgrades and eco-friendly features.

Large national companies also consistently provide consumers with attractive amenities, but they are finding it more difficult to meet the demands of buyers who yearn for “greener” options and inexpensive homes. As the laws of demand in a market dictate, both custom home builders and large national companies are attempting to “give people what they want.”

Custom home builders are accommodating the desires of their buyers by offering personalized options in new homes. Outdoor living options are a high priority in the minds of many buyers and designers. While a barbecue grill and kidney-shaped pool have traditionally been the standard, buyers are now opting for outdoor kitchens, kid-friendly pools, putting greens, ramadas, and even a few backyard skate parks. Designers say kitchens are a key focal point indoors, showcasing convenience and beauty.

Custom home builders are trying to promote a particular lifestyle through gourmet kitchens, islands, and upgraded appliances. They maintain buyers do not want standard kitchen appliances, choosing instead to have upgraded appliances in their new homes. In custom homes, buyers are also requesting bigger and more elegant guest rooms and bathrooms. In response to buyers wishes, custom home builders are “going the extra mile” to please their buyers.

Arizona new home buyers also follow national trends in their desire to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, and Arizona custom home builders are meeting their demands. Installing energy-efficient appliances is commonplace, but custom home builders are doing more to accommodate buyers who wish to live a “greener” lifestyle. Many Arizona custom builders have adopted construction techniques that emphasize conservation of energy, water, and resources. Yet this type of construction for the large national builders (who build a majority of the new homes in metro Phoenix,) this means completely revising their business structure, which is driven by production. The large builders view this as risky at a time when revenue is down and sales are stalled.

National home builders recognize the environment-friendly market, and many already include more common features such as dual-pane glass and low-water bathroom fixtures. More extensive green construction, though, involves numerous other items: ductwork placed underground or in “conditioned” enclosures and “gray water” systems that reclaim used water from kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms and use it to irrigate the landscaping. These features can be expensive, and national builders are skeptical as to whether enough buyers are willing to spend the additional money on a new home. It is estimated that “going green” increases a home’s price by approximately 5%. National companies are finding it difficult to justify any features that raise a home’s price, at a time when they are trying to clear out their excess inventory.

Markets are influenced by consumer demand. If Arizona’s home buyers continue to follow national and global trends in eco-friendly housing, national builders will benefit from “going green” and begin to see their sales increase. Custom home builders in Arizona are already reaping the benefit by giving buyers exactly what they want.

Sources: “Greater Expectations: Model Homes Build up Buyers’ Appetite for Upgraded Amenities,” Susie Steckner, The Arizona Republic: July 7, 2007.

“Going Green is a Hard Sell for Struggling Home Builders,” Glen Creno, The Arizona Republic: July 20, 2007.

Ten Tips for Evaluating a Home Builder Website

When researching potential new home builders to hire, you need to rely on quality, professionalism, customer service and relevance to your wants and budget. Because most new home searches begin online, evaluating a home builder’s website is crucial to deciding whether or not the home builder deserves to be contacted. If you want to purchase a house, this helpful article offers home buying information and ten tips for evaluating a home builder website.

Because the website of New Home Builder Orleans Homes exemplifies many features indicative of a quality homebuilder website, it was used as a model for what a potential new home buyer should look for in a new house builder website.

House & Floor Plans

When you are considering the purchase of a new home – maybe the biggest purchase you will ever make – you need to know the house is what you want, inside and out. To save potential home buyers time, some homebuilder websites let visitors preview new home plans online. A typical home builder will offer several floor and house plans and a home builder whose website boasts interactive floor plans suggests both technical savvy and awareness of what site visitors want of a residential home builder.

Printable Brochures

Just as the availability of house and floor plans show an awareness of what those in the market for a new home want, the ability to print plans and brochures reinforces that awareness. If you print a plan, you have something tangible to use for reference and to use if you choose to tour new model homes.

Words, Pictures & Interactivity

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes, but different people gather information in different ways. Some people are visual, others interactive while still more prefer to read to gather information. A home builder website should be equally open to these various ways of gathering information. And for those visual site visitors, if the pictures are of decent quality, it likely means the home builder invests in quality in other aspects of their business. One additional note on the pictures that appear on homebuilder websites: if the picture doesn’t show the actual home interior or exterior – shows instead a flower vase, say – it may mean the homebuilder is hiding something.

Usability & Navigation

For government and government contractor websites, the site must be accessible to persons with disabilities. Websites not obligated to this level of accessibility – but that are accessible nevertheless – are indicative of a company sympathetic to the needs of all potential site visitors. This is good, naturally, but accessible and usable websites also lead to a more rewarding site visit. In short, an open, easy-to-navigate website likely means open, easy-to-navigate homes.
Solid site navigation suggests, in addition, an awareness of how visitors will move throughout the website and a desire to make this process as intuitive as possible. A thoughtfully designed website means a thoughtfully designed home so look for sites that are both usable and accessible.

Interactive maps

To find a home, you need to know where it is. Maps, obviously, make the search for a new home easier. Furthermore, an interactive map – one where you can simply click on a location to view homes available in that area – makes the home search that much easier. When a website gives you multiple tools to find a new home for sale, it reinforces the notion that the homebuilder wants to make the search for a new home or new home development easier.

Easy-to-Find Content

Visitors to a homebuilder website may be looking for several unique types of information: new homes, home plans, home locations, financing information, company history, employment information, and home care tips. The content sought by a visitor should be easy to locate in a few simple clicks. Site maps, search fields, information architecture – these all help the visitor through the site. Again, an easily-navigable site suggests the homebuilder knows how to build well.

Search by Various Factors

A visitor in search of a single family home for sale, for example, may be seeking unique features. It so follows that a website should allow visitors to search by various factors such as location, neighborhood, price range, number of rooms, amenities, etc. There are many types of people in the market to buy a new home and a homebuilder should offer information to a variety of individuals. Even a luxury home builder builds a variety of models and a site that lets you search for factors pertinent to your home search suggests the company may be one worth further investigation.

Site Speaks to your Wants and Needs

Just as a site should allow for you to search according to your unique new home needs, a site should also speak to your new home wish list. If you are a first time homebuyer looking to buy a new house, evaluate the site content to see if they speak to needs similar to yours. If the site does not – there is no need to contact the home builder.

Links

A link is a vote for a website because, if there is a link to the site, the linking website owner decided the site content was worth referencing. So check to see if the site is linked to because links are essentially votes of confidence.

Financial Information

It is often said that the decision to purchase a house is one of the biggest most people will ever make. Most people have to think very carefully about investing in a new home, and how to finance it. Even if you have your own plans for financing a new home purchase, look for homebuilder websites that offer financing and mortgage information. It demonstrates a familiarity with the financing process and the ability of the company to give you good, reliable information. Some sites even offer a mortgage calculator [http://www.orleanshomes.com/buy/calc.cfm target=] – a very helpful tool to use during a new home search.

If you evaluate home builder websites based on these factors, you are better prepared to decide which new home builders to contact. One final note. If you like a home builder website, look for interest list forms or forms to request additional information. Filling out these forms not only ensures you are only provided relevant information, they will likely automatically qualify you for special offers, discounts and VIP openings. If you like what you see, fill out the interest list.

* You may republish this article provided you retain the active hyperlinks. Copyright 2006, Robert O’Shaughnessy.

Why Do Home Builders Live in the Nicest Homes?

Have you ever visited a really nice neighborhood and admired the community landscaping, the upscale architecture and the beautifully tree lined streets. Then suddenly, a home appears on the horizon that seems to tower over all others, has special appointments and details and looks like it was built to a higher standard? That well built home with all the upgrades is typically owned and inhabited by a home builder. Why is that?

Besides the local funeral home or the “old-home-renovated-for-a-law-firm”, the nicest house in the neighborhood is usually the residence of a local home builder. The fact that the home is grander than any of those around him or any of the homes he ever built is not lost on the builder or the community. In fact, builders typically use their homes as a sample to show-off their skill and craftsmanship. Too bad the actual product is far from what is advertised. Even real estate agents admit that home builders’ homes are better than those subpar versions reserved for you and me. How many times do you see a property listing that boasts “builder residence”. Why should that matter? Should I only fly in airplanes that are built by pilots or sail in boats designed by fishermen? Maybe!

The reason that home builder houses are better than yours or mine is not that they put extra care into their own homes. On the contrary, it is because they don’t put proper care into the homes they build for you and me. Yes, home builders are probably the best skimpers, scrapers and penny pinchers on the face of the earth. If they can a build a home with nails that cost a 1/100th of cent less, they will. No matter that the nails are flimsy, will probably rust and rot the wood studs from a galvanic reaction. Who will know? You probably won’t. At least not until another year or two after the warranty and the home builders responsibility has expired.

If we are honest, can any of us be sure that every wall cavity in our home is filled with insulation? Do we know if every stud is 16″ on center? Are we sure that the floor sheathing is attached to every joist? And what about all that extra material required during construction? Shouldn’t a builder know how much material is needed to build a home? The amount of waste generated at a home building site is staggering. And when one home site wastes too much, builders typically get “extra” materials from another project down the street. That “other” project could be your new home.   

Ask a builder about the cheapening of their product and they will tell you it is to save the homeowner money. That is a hard pill to swallow as historic material cost fluctuations never really seem to make it down to the homeowner. The material that makes up most American homes is wood. Wood prices have gone from a historic highs to historic lows over the past decade yet home construction costs (based on cost per square foot, not overall home prices) continues a steady, rapid rise. Where is that extra money going?

Yes, there are some very good home builders on the market. Just like there are some good used car salesmen and Ginsu knives. But to quote a famous philosopher from the 1960’s, “times they are a changing, my friend.” Builders aren’t building “spec” homes any more, many builder residences are up for sale and people who can build a new home are in total control. Quite a change from just a few years ago. 

Someday the economy will improve and this new age home buyer will rise from the ashes of this current downturn. A new home buyer that has more control over the building process and will dictate how they want their home built, how much it will cost and when it will done. This buyer will demand the latest in energy saving construction, the best construction practices and possess a set of construction documents that details every facet of the building process while monitoring material usage, managing labor efforts and scheduling just-in-time deliveries. This reenergized home buyer will demand that the builder follow their home plans in every detail and produce the home they have dreamed of and saved up for years. Because let’s face it, we all want to live in the nicest house on the block, too.