TUESDAY’S OBJECTIVE: Guide to New Construction (part 2)
According to economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau, builders are now producing approximately 1.18 million homes per year nationally. Given the proliferation of new construction, new agents entering the business will be wise to quickly familiarize themselves with new homes
Selling new-construction is a different process, but it’s certainly nothing a new agent should be afraid to take-on.
In fact, most experienced agents consider selling new construction a less taxing process than selling a re-sale. This is true because there is often less negotiation over earnest money, possession dates, concessions, post-inspection repairs, and even price in some circumstances.
Post-inspection repair negotiations don’t exist, because new homes are fully covered by the builder’s warranty and a builder’s reputation depends on delivering homes that are free of problems. However, you should pay close attention to the verbiage in their contract that deals with defects that are discovered during the routine walk-throughs.
Most builders will not allow a buyer to terminate over these items, but rather insist that the buyer allow them to correct the issues before the home is delivered. Also make sure your client is aware that builders will not normally allow changes to materials, or structural features once construction has started. This is because the builders cannot deviate from the initial plans they submitted to the county to obtain the building permit.
Likewise, materials such as tile, wood flooring, countertops, appliances, cannot easily be changed midstream either. Builders place their material orders in bulk to receive wholesale pricing, therefore, it isn’t feasible for them to make changes after the materials order has been placed.
Completion timelines can also have variances and delays that push the closing back. Things like bad weather, materials shortages, labor strikes of unionized trades, delays with county permit issuance, project financing issues, etc., are all factors out of the builder’s control that can prolong the construction process. Make sure you are clear on the maximum time frame the contract provides a builder to complete a home. Most builders typically promise delivery somewhere between 6 and 13 months, but the contract may allow them to delay completion up to 24 months without penalty or legal recourse.
Builders will often insist that their prices are non-negotiable. This may or may not be true, depending on the market.
This varies from market to market, and sometimes even between neighborhoods and builders. If a particularly hot neighborhood is selling faster than a builder can release lots, then odds are they won’t deal on price. However, if the builder has several unsold “spec” homes in inventory, then it’s usually a good bet that they will negotiate. This is even more true at the end of the month, the end of the fiscal fourth quarter, or when the builder is down to the last few homes and they are trying to close out the development. In these instances, a smart agent will negotiate hard for their client!
New homes are typically offered on a first-come, first-served basis, which means that the first qualified buyer to place a deposit on a newly released lot, gets it.
Therefore, creatively structuring offers to be more competitive against competing offers often isn’t necessary. Researching comps is rarely a factor either, since the builder prices are carefully set at levels that the builder can justify based on the value of the land and construction costs.
Unless a buyer goes overboard with design center options, new construction homes rarely fail to appraise. However, it’s worth noting that many builder contracts state that the buyer is still required to close on the home, even if the appraisal does somehow come in low. Therefore, agents need to advise their buyer’s not to over-improve the home (in the design center) too far above the norm for the neighborhood.
The burden of managing deadlines is greatly reduced as well, because most builder contracts make a buyer’s earnest money hard within 2-3 days after the contract is executed. Aside from the buyer’s loan getting declined (assuming it was no fault of the buyer) or the builder failing to compete the home in time, builder contracts generally have no other provisions in place for a buyer to terminate without forfeiting their deposit. Therefore, there are far fewer crucial deadlines to manage on a new-construction transaction.
- Learn where the new construction is happening. A great resource is www.buildidaho.com learn about current and proposed developments. Their blog section is particularly useful.