Ten years ago, before I worked full-time as a licensed Florida Real Estate Agent, I would have failed to realize the value an experienced realtor could bring me when looking at new construction. Thank goodness I did not build a new home until after I had been an agent for a few years! Here are some of the things I have learned about purchasing new construction by being in the trenches with builders and buyers over the past ten years. Spending a few minutes reading over this is guaranteed to save you time, money and potential heartache!
If the salesperson is not an employee of the builder; they are working at the model home at the invitation of the builder. These are highly trained salespeople who understand sales and negotiations and it is in their best interest to watch out for the company. There are some great Pensacola real estate agents working in builder's new home construction, but they are not working as buyer's agents.
An experienced Pensacola Realtor knows the quality of work and reputation of our local homebuilders. When working with a buyer for Pensacola homes it is our job to help provide information to inform your decision making around issues like building restrictions, roads and easements, inspections, financing, warranties, rebates and upgrades. It's our roll to wade through the data, know the peculiarities of the local market and point out the downsides and upsides of each.
We also work to set realistic expectations. Have you ever noticed that salespeople seem to have the most positive outlooks when it comes to schedules? Having done this for a while, we know that there are almost always construction or financing delays, often beyond the control of the builder or lender, and we work to set realistic expectations for our Pensacola area homebuyers and real estate clients.
There is a misconception among some buyers that the commission the builder would pay their real estate agent will be "saved" so the builder will give it to the buyer through a lower price on the home. I hate to burst that bubble, but it just isn't so! The builder has a bottom line price that shifts depending on market conditions, carrying costs and inventory on hand, things that an experienced Realtor keeps up with, and they will not (can not) go below that price and lose money.
Most of our Pensacola builders are highly reputable and they value the business that local Pensacola Realtors bring them. For this reason, a predetermined commission has been set for buyer's agents and published through the Pensacola Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. (Which you can search on our Pensacola MLS search page.) Should a buyer purchase without Realtor representation, that is simply additional profit for the builder and guaranteed less time and effort required as there is no Realtor checking and double checking the progress to closing, advocating for inspections and following up with all parties. As I said, reputable builders value a Realtor's contribution and you won't find them undermining their relationship with local Realtors.
Most experienced homebuyers purchase only two or three homes in a lifetime. Our real estate team is walking through the process of buying a Pensacola home with a client numerous times each month. For example, you may not know what features and upgrades are important, especially if you have never owned a home before or have never owned a home in the Pensacola area. What should you know about insulation, the cost of well water vs. municipal water, the tonnage of HVAC systems, etc.? Some features and upgrades can be added later, but some should be considered in the original build to avoid dramatic increased costs down the road. Additionally, working with numerous clients on new home sales insures that we know what incentives, discounts and upgrades are being negotiated by specific builders.
Builders will often have a preferred lender relationship and they often have incentives for working with these lenders. Sometimes that is to a buyer's advantage, but most of the time there is no free lunch. The money that the buyer "saves" has to come from somewhere and it is often through higher interest rates, other fees or a yield spread premium. An experienced Pensacola Realtor works regularly with local Pensacola lenders and can provide contact information so that the buyer can seek Good Faith Estimates from additional lenders.
So let me share one little story from my own home building experience. I selected a builder for a custom build, negotiated a contract and started down the road to building my dream home. Things happened along the way, hey, this is real life, but my experience was mostly positive. Positive right up until we got ready to close on our loan!
It was July and our builder fired up all systems to check that everything was in working order. Unfortunately, try as we might we could not get one side of the new home to cool appropriately. The builder did all his trouble shooting and finally concluded that we needed a larger HVAC unit. Now I'm not an engineer, but I had worked around new construction long enough to realize that we had the proper tonnage for the square footage of the home. In walks my professional home inspector. In a matter of half an hour he had diagnosed the problem as a lack of proper insulation on the west side of the home under the black roof in the hot Florida sun. The builder calls the subcontractor back out and guess what? Applying the appropriate insulation, as called for in the original contract, ensured that the entire house was cool, saving me approximately $2600 over an HVAC upgrade.
My reputable builder had tried to talk me out of an inspection as there had been numerous county inspections to get us to where we were, on top of his own inspections and those of his foreman. I certainly understand his point. But here's the thing, municipal inspections are no guarantee against mistakes and construction flaws and a qualified independent party checking for you is crucial. You may just find problems that would have persisted and cost you money for months or years before being discovered.
In truth, most builders welcome an inspection as it often helps them find issues prior to the walk through allowing them to get it corrected prior to closing, or have it identified on the punch list to be addressed when the subcontractor is on site for other jobs.