My phone rang and it was a client from another state. I'd helped this client buy a retirement home for his parents here in Peoria. They are all very nice people and I enjoyed helping them. Seeing their satisfied grins and exchanges when the sale was complete was a great feeling. So it was a complete surprise when the phone remained silent after leaving voicemails.
Fast forward to yesterday when I ran a search and my suspicions were confirmed. My client had purchased his retirement home ahead of schedule and without me. A somber feeling doesn't even describe the emotion, which bordered on a hurt feeling more than anything. He had told me he registered my name at every new build subdivision and wasn't ready to buy anyway. Since he did not plan his trip in advance, but happened to be in town on a weekend, we both agreed he would simply give my name to the builders.
But one subdivision had eluded him, even though I researched it for him while he was driving the neighborhood. He was across town and I had a meeting with a different client. Since no advance notice had been given that he would be in town, he proceeded without me. He told the agent that he had been giving all of the builders my name as he went because I was on the other side of town, 25 miles away. Every builder had respected that notification; everyone but this one.
This builder decided to offer him a deal if I wasn't included in the equation. Figuring he was saving thousands, he went along with it. Only after my search of the tax records did I figure out that he must have bought a spec home due to the closing date and our phone conversation; he was a cash buyer.
Deciding what to do, I wrote him an inquisitory email asking him if I had done something wrong. The email idea worked better because he works nights and this would be a non-threatening approach, plus I needed time to cool off.
When my phone rang this morning, I knew I hadn't done anything wrong. He relayed to me that the builder had offered to reduce the price of the home to a level that would entice him to buy and not include me as his agent. Unbelievable! I've read about this happening to other agents, but it's never happened to me.
In the current housing climate, every builder has been 100% honest in saying they would honor an Agency representation. I'm shocked it happened but the blow is softened thanks to my clients' honesty. He proceeded to tell me he feels bad as we had an arrangement and that I would be helping him with his retirement home purchase. We talked about investment properties and he has referred his sister to me for assistance in purchasing a home for her so our relationship is in tact.
The home buying public may not realize that even in new construction, the assistance of an agent representing them provides value. We will be a 3rd set of eyes looking for defects at a walk through. We will recommend a home inspection when a new home consultant will not. The new home consultant represents the builder, not the buyer. We will review the surrounding area for resales to make sure that buying a new home is of the best value. We will research vacant land to ascertain the zoning and most likely construction of future projects. We will review infrastructure for freeway access and whether the area has a solid track record for growth. The information we can provide will benefit the home buyer and provide confidence in the home buying decision.
I've decided that it's not worth contacting a builder or spending any more energy on this issue. What will I do next time? Advise me client to please give me more notice if he's coming to town. Even though I asked him to let me know when he's coming, I need to be more communicative in the process. It's my hope that this post will help another agent in a similar situation.