Why Use a REALTOR When You’re Buying a Home from a Builder?

Why Use a REALTOR When You’re Buying a Home from a Builder? (Builder Home Plans)

Why use a REALTOR when you’re buying a home from a builder? The short answer is that your REALTOR is trained and experienced in real estate transactions. They represent you, and you alone.  A builder represents the builder’s interests first and foremost.

Your REALTOR is your advocate. They are available while you’re at work, handling calls from the builder and contractors. Representing your preferences, your needs, and your expectations in the contract is their job.

Your REALTOR is your project manager. Purchasing a new build is complicated. You’re customizing features, working on a tight schedule, and the process of inspections, approvals, and change requests for custom items or work that didn’t go as expected can take time, energy, and even cost extra money. Use a professional to keep all the parts of this process moving and turning as they should.

Your REALTOR is your eye for detail. Your agent knows this process from start to finish, they’ve been there, done that, got the merit badge! They know the plumbing and electrical inspections can hold up the interior construction of your home until they’re completed. They know when to reassure you that this IS the process, or when something isn’t going right and it’s time for a meeting with the builder.

Your REALTOR is experienced at closings. Even though you’re buying a brand-new home, you still have a contract, you still have a closing, financing, inspections, and all the details that go into any home sale. Your agent can manage the details and stress for you, so you simply get to enjoy the process.

To learn more reasons why you should use a REALTOR when you’re buying from a builder – call us – we’d be happy to answer your questions.

Should we purchase a new home or an older home?


The following is an excerpt from The Locale Real Estate News.

My fiancé and I are searching for our new dream home in a central metropolitan area. Over the past few months we have been struggling with the decision of whether or not we should purchase a new home or an older home. I love the charm of the older homes in the area, but I’m not sure if they hold as much value as a new home would. From your experience, would you say that an older home could be worth as much as a home that was recently built?

Sandy Q.

Dear Sandy,

This is often a question we hear when buyers, like yourself, are interested in centralized properties.

Consider the Variables in a New Home vs and Older Home

When considering the value of a home, and whether or not it is a good idea to purchase an older home over a newly built home, there are many variables. Like you said, older homes offer charm and elegance, and unbeholden to some – many are built with a larger square footage and with higher quality materials than what is being built today. Some would argue that homes aren’t built the way they used to be: brick homes are being replaced with houses wrapped in vinyl, attention to detail is being lost, houses with character are being swapped out for open floor plans in cookie cutter neighborhoods.

Consider Future Expenses

However, people would consider a new home more valuable because there should be no major expenses in the first several years of ownership. In a new house, modern features like media rooms, large closets and extra-large bathrooms are more attainable. In an aged home you rely largely on the previous resident’s tastes and technological whims, unless you already plan to farm thousands into a remodeling.

Consider the Big Ticket Item Expense

All that in mind, however, a house that is 30 years old may be equally renovated and just as updated as a new home. The usual big ticket expenses are windows, roof, siding, and HVAC, so if all of those are well kept, then an older home could be of equal value as a brand new home and of more value if the foundation is stronger.

Consider Land and Location

When thinking about what type of home is right for you, land and location can come in to play. Typically the older homes are likely to be much more centralized with more properties to choose from, while the newer homes in the area are a bit fewer and built farther out from the city center. Many of the older homes in the area are generally larger than the newly built homes and are located on larger pieces of land than what people in the same area would currently be building on.

Additionally, on that land the landscaping is normally already completed and with the possibility that 10’s of thousands of dollars in landscaping could have already been completed and included in the purchase price.

Value is in the Eye of the Beholder

The truth is that value may be in the eye of the beholder. Just look at all of the details and what you are looking for specifically in a home, then relate that to the age of the home, major home expenses, the quality of the construction, the land/ location, and the overall costs to evaluate value.

If you have any additional questions about the values of your home, I am always happy to have a chat free from obligation. Just give us a call at 614-888-6100.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Building a New Home

Why is it so hard to find out about all the possible builders?

The new build market is a constantly shifting target- builders and communities come and go as neighborhoods get built up and new ones start. A builder today may not exist a few years from now- companies merge, dissolve, and go out of business.

What’s the biggest motivating factors when people build a new home?

  • Location
  • Price range (both the monthly payment and the total price)
  • Features- floor plans and amenities.

What’s the difference between a “production” and a “semi-production/semi-custom” home?

A production home is a set floor plan that either cannot be modified, or has very limited modification choices. At the most extreme end is a home that has predetermined the floor plan on the lot, the color and flooring choices, and even the landscaping. The advantage to production restrictions is that the builder can control their building costs to a greater degree, and often offer more competitive pricing.

A semi-production/semi-custom home takes an existing floor plan and offers modifications. Some builders will make elaborate changes; others offer limited choices. There are usually a wider variety of upgrade options available as well.

Why is everything an “upgrade”? It seems like I’m being nickel-dimed to death.

The mindset for building a home is completely opposite from buying an existing home. With an existing home, “what you see is what you get”. You may note if the color of the room matches your decor, but you’re probably not noticing if the floorboards are 2″ or 4″, or if the lightswitch plate is brass or plastic.

When building a home, these are all choices (among many others) that can be made, and with each comes a different cost. At times this selection process can become mind-numbing, as well as unexpectedly expensive.

TIP: When looking at initial pricing of a home, it’s a good idea to add about $10-20,000.00 to the initial price. It’s a very good rule of thumb that the final price will meet or exceed this amount as you develop what you really want.

Why are there always price increases as the community develops? Is it a better idea to get in at the very beginning?

Actually, it’s simple- the builders want to make a profit (that’s why they’re in the business, folks). So do the people who sell the lumber, drywall, windows, etc. As time goes on, it’s a given that one or more of these groups is going to have a price increase….. which is going to be passed on to you, the buyer.

Regarding building at the very beginning…… there’s a calculated risk that needs to be carefully decided. Some communities have started out with grandiose plans (and price tags!) that the market turned their noses up at. As time went on (with insufficient sales), these builders significantly downsized the floor plans, choices, etc to lower prices. In these examples, resale for the original homeowners is going to be hurt. On the other hand, those in popular communities have enjoyed quick equity in their homes as pricing and demand went up.

What is meant by “Buyer Representation”?

When a realtor is working with you on your behalf, that person is professionally and legally bound to represent your best interests. Remember, if you choose to work directly with a builder representation without a realtor, that builder representative is legally bound to represent the builder’s interests- they are an employee of the builder.

How can a good realtor “make it all better”?

An additional benefit of working with a good realtor is that he/she is always looking at your purchase with future resale in mind, and can give you important advice regarding choices that will improve your resale. Realtors work in both markets- new build and existing homes. We intimately know what buyers want and will pay extra for.

What is the realtor’s commission, and who pays for it?

The realtor usually receives a 3% commission based on the original contract price of the home, and the builder pays for it. It’s a very common misconception that somehow the buyer has to pay a commission- not true in the state of Ohio.

Here’s the BIG question…. can I get a “better deal” if I don’t use a realtor? After all, I’m looking at my bottom line here……

Here’s another common misconception- and the answer is NO. In the vast majority of cases, the builders out there have a general fund that either goes to marketing/advertising, or to paying the realtor’s commission- it’s a set fund. The builder is NOT going to give a discount for not using a realtor…. it’s the same price to you.

(of course, my realtor voice wants to chime in- if it doesn’t cost you to use a realtor, you’re not going to get the home any cheaper NOT using a realtor, and the realtor is legally representing your interests……. what are you, nuts? Use a realtor!)

However……. there are a few unethical people out there who love to break the rules. So, yes… I have heard of occasional builders/builder reps who have a “nod-nod, wink-wink” policy where the realtor was cut out of the deal, and the buyer got something extra (sometimes under the table).

To those whose eyes are gleaming after reading the last two sentences, I offer the following: Your home is (usually) your biggest investment. If you choose to work with a person that does not legally represent your interests, and has demonstrated their lack of ethics in one area….. what do you think the odds are that ethics issues may arise in other areas? Beware..


I visited a builder’s model home on my own, and now they say I can’t use a realtor. What’s that all about?

Some builders have funny rules about realtor participation. They insist that the initial contact with the builder comes from the realtor- it’s called “registering” the buyer. In these cases, if you visit a model home and you fill out a form, or the sales rep fills out a form for you- Surprise! You have been “registered”. That sales rep has added you to their Quota belt, and will probably get an incentive if you buy a home.

If you want to use a realtor, there’s an easy way to get around this. Simply give the sales rep one of your realtor’s business cards, or tell them your realtor’s name/number. In the vast majority of cases (most people are honest, hardworking folks just like you), you’re set, and there no futher problems.

In that rare case where they are insisting you can’t have your realtor participate, there’s a simple way to ensure you can be represented- tell the builder you’re not going to build without your realtor participating. When it comes down to the wire, the builder will want to make a sale- and you will have the personal representation you desire.

Is “cost per square foot” a good way to compare different builders?

The “cost per square foot” form of measurement is a good way to get a very generalized big picture of value, but it’s not a good way to to determine accurate value. This ballpark form of measurement doesn’t take into account any of the amenities of the home, which hugely impacts value. A home with granite counters, wood shelving built-ins, elaborate trim and crown molding, etc. will have a much higher cost per square foot than a home with laminate counters and plain plastic coated trim. Likewise, when comparing two different builders in the same community there will be different finishes and detail quality issues to consider.

Use this to get an initial “big picture”, then tune in on the fine differences. It’s important to keep in mind the many, many differences that are not accounted for in the “square foot” comparison.