Q: I’ve been reading your book, “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask.”
I’m curious about something: Is it beneficial to have an agent for a new built home or should I negotiate directly myself? I’m usually quite good at negotiating. What are the benefits? Thanks for your help.
A: You should absolutely hire an agent to help you negotiate with the builder. It won’t cost you any more, and ideally, the agent is well-acquainted with how the developer operates, the deals he/she has given other buyers recently, and what other, similar, developers are offering. In addition, the agent should be more familiar with the terms and conditions of a new construction contract.
But in addition to an agent, you should hire your own real estate attorney to go through the contract and explain what’s really going on there. That’s particularly true now, when so many builders are having difficulties selling their developments.
For example, you wouldn’t want to buy in a development that is only half-sold, unless you really understand the ongoing risk. What if the builder never sells another house? What if the builder files for bankruptcy before your house is finished? What if the builder runs out of cash before the roads and other amenities of the development are put in?
Nothing personal, but being a good negotiator doesn’t mean much compared to larger real estate legal issues that can come into play if a developer has been comingling funds (instead of keeping your deposit separate, which means you could lose all of your cash in a bankruptcy), and hasn’t been playing right with the numbers. What will you do about a warranty if the developer goes under or starts up under a new name?
In my mind, there’s no benefit to any buyer buying without the assistance of a qualified team including an agent, attorney, professional home inspector and quality mortgage lenders. (And while the appraisers might get upset that they’re not in this list, buyers don’t hire them directly.)
This is the largest purchase you’re ever going to make. Why not have a roundtable of hand-picked experts to guide you, help give you perspective, provide objective advice and make sure you’re protected in this deal?