Recently we responded to a homebuyer on Trulia who was learning a hard lesson. His remarks were difficult to hear because they were filled with frustration for the Realtor(and I am one of those darn Realtors…only the darn doesn’t apply) who sold him the home. Now that he has problems with what was promised in the contract, he can’t seem to get hold of his Realtor. (No, I did not sell him the home…I am just a fellow Realtor type person)
In all fairness, I don’t know enough about the situation to condemn the Realtor, or the buyer, or even the seller, but I Have observed other situations where a Homebuyer is left hanging out to dry. So, I am going to concentrate on New Home Construction with a “Here Are Some Rules To Live By” Attitude.
There are so many contracts to read, decisions to make, and details to be handled, you need someone on your side to protect your interests. You need someone who has a fiduciary duty to you, not the builder. Make sure the agent you choose is familiar with new construction homes and builder’s contracts. Ask questions up front, and make SURE that your agent knows how to represent a buyer, not all agents do ya know. And above all, make sure that you are comfortable with whomever you choose.
The friendly model home agent represents the seller (the builder), and even though they have to promise to treat you fairly and honestly, they are not representing you. Everything they say or do is for the builder’s best interest; this is what they are contracted to do. Don’t get me wrong, this also not a bad thing, the builder has a right to be represented, just know the difference.
2. Read your contract.
I can’t emphasize this enough, especially if you are dealing with a builder. New Home Builders write contracts on their behalf (which is not a Bad thing, but you need to know this going in), not to protect you as a buyer.
3. Make sure that all terms and conditions are in writing
There is no such thing as a “verbal contract” in Real Estate. If you are buying new construction, make sure you have all the extras that are promised in writing with an authority signature i.e. someone who has the right to sign the contract. So, if you were promised a built in microwave in stainless steel, but you did not see one in the house, you and your agent can go back to the contract and make it happen.
4. Keep up to date.
Go by the construction site (your agent will or should do this as well) to find out what is going on. We had an situation not too long ago where our client’s new home was supposed to have been finished by October 15th. We were working on a deadline on his loan that involved “First Come First Served” grant money, and could not apply until the home was completed. Turned out the builder had mixed up the lot numbers and thought that it Was finished. We called and complained, and called again and complained. By the 3rd time, they had corrected the error, but if we had not “kept up to date” and kept in touch with the builder, our client could very well have lost out not only on the grant money,( and therefore his ability to purchase the home), but the builder’s contract had also made the earnest money non refundable, so that would have been forfeit as well.
5. Do 2 walk throughs BEFORE you close on your new home.
On the first walk through, make your punch list , use the infamous blue tape to mark the spots that need touch up, take pictures…(well, not of every piece of blue tape, but of a missing microwave for instance, you get the idea). Keep a record of everything that needs attention. Once the builder has your list (hopefully from your agent), plan to go Back through your home the day of closing to see what has been done and what has not. Once you close on your home, you don’t have much leverage and the builder has less motivation to return your calls, so the more you have written, the better off you will be.
Do all these things,
and you will have a much better experience in buying your new home. If you have any questions, call, text, or email us…or better yet comment on this blog and we will answer so that everyone can benefit from the information. Ciao’