Pity the poor offspring of a builder bringing home their future spouse, a Realtor, to meet mom and dad. Imagine the conversations going on behind closed doors later that night:
Builder Dad, "Where did we go wrong?"
Builder Mom, "She's doing this to get back at me because I didn't let her dye her hair chartreusse in the 10th grade. I knew she'd make me pay for that some day. But in this way!"
Builder Dad, "A Realtor. She's actually going to marry a Realtor."
Builder Mom, "How could she do this to us? And in our own home?"
Picture it: Downstairs. The front door. Suitcase in hand.
Realtor fiance: "You never TOLD me your parents were builders!"
Blushing bride-to-be: "I thought that once you got to know them . . ."
"We're finished, Jane. There's no way I'll have builders for in-laws."
Pleadingly, "I'm sure they'll grow to love you."
"I'm sorry, Jane, but I'd sooner marry into a family of home inspectors than builders."
Builders and Realtors are definitely two different species, and sometimes each is given a bad rap because of misconceptions and misunderstandings. It may often seem to each that the other is not on the same side, yet nothing can be further from the truth. Take a moment as we explore that both the builder and the Realtor actually have the very same goals and let's see if we can bridge the gap between the builder-Realtor community.
For Realtors: The Builder's Perspective
Many home builders prefer to hire, train and manage their own sales team than list with a Realtor because the builder wants someone physically on site working to sell their homes 7 days a week, 8 plus hours a day. When an agent is provided a model home to "sit" in, that agent is usually tied to that model and does not enjoy the freedom that a Realtor does. When working with a builder's agent, respect their time and they'll respect yours. If the site agent has agreed to meet you on their day off, please don't be a no show or arrive hours later than the time frame you gave them. Unlike Realtors, site agents are tied down to their models and usually are only away from them on their day off. That doesn't leave a lot of time for them to run their personal errands and run their households. By far, Realtors have the benefit of having schedules that are flexible and their own.
When a builder is in the closeout phase of his/her community it may no longer be feasible to keep an agent on-site in a model home, so the builder may offer the scattered unsold inventory to a local broker to sell. If you want those listings, you'll likely have to earn them by frequently making an effort to show the builder's communities and following up to remind them that you are interested in representing them on any unsold inventory. Once you get the listing, you'll need to do more than a good job, you'll need to do a great job. Remember that this customer can give you lots of repeat business. Be sure to let him know how may times the home has been shown, the feedback that you are getting, and be certain to check the home frequently to make certain that it is the proper shape for a viewing. Since the builder has likely moved on, it's up to you to keep an eye on the property and make certain that the home is getting the attention it needs. A quick call to the builder telling him that the grass has not been cut let's him know you are on top of your game.
Builders often work with slim profit margins. They carry land costs, brick and mortar costs, overhead, inventory costs, are challenged to look at their return on assets, return on investment, cost of sale, and more. Home building is not the bed of roses and the high profits that many people think. When Realtors ask builders to throw things in, they need to remember that sometimes the builder is making less on the deal than they are. Before you ask the builder to provide something as an incentive, ask yourself if it is really necessary in order to make the sale, and then ask yourself if you yourself would be willing to pay for the incentive. If you feel the item is GENUINELY justified, then ask the builder. Don't forget to explore the idea of sharing in the cost of the incentive. If the builder realizes that you understand their situation, you are likely able to increase your worth to that builder and will be thought of as a true professional.
Most builders know exactly how many days it takes to build each plan in their offering, and they build time in for weather delays, permitting, inspections, and holidays. Please do not promise your buyer that the home will be ready when they need it. Let the builder provide the dates. No matter how many times that builder has brought homes in before the original date, the one time you need a home by a certain date is the one time that scheduling will get off track and the home fall behind. Pushing the builder may not necessarily help.
Allow the Builder's agent to demonstrate their product. They have been trained to properly provide the features and benefits of the homes, and should know them better than you. If they haven't been trained, either find another site agent or another builder. In addition, professional site agents are trained to give information and get information so that they can quickly narrow down what it is that the customer is looking for. You wouldn't want the site agent along on your listing appointment taking over your job when you are the listing expert, so don't take over the site agents. Step back, relax, and enjoy the ride. If you are a control freak and can't handle it, let the site agent give them the spiel while you borrow a phone and start working on your next sale. This one just might be in the bag if you let the site agent do their job.
Do not freak out if there are loose ends on the home prior to closing. Many builders button homes up just prior to closing. If you go to the walk through and the list is long, call the sales manager and ask them to look into for you. The walk through is not the time to earn your commission or show the buyers how much you know. If you notice something that gets overlooked by the builder and the buyers, so that you do not create friction between the builder and the buyers, make a note of the item on a pad and just prior to the walk though, ask the builder if you may speak to him a moment. Show him your list and ask him about those items. See how he handles it. After that, you may discuss and legitimate concerns with the buyers and tell them that you have discussed it with the builder and what the outcome is. If you are dealing with a company employee, your next step may be to get someone higher up involved.
Next post - How Builders can work more effectively with Realtors to build trust and create sales.
Until then . . . Happy Marketing!