Don’t let the idea of showing new homes make you nervous.
You are not trained or encouraged to show newly constructed homes, so it’s understandable that you may lack the confidence to show new homes, especially if they are not listed in the MLS. However, by not showing new homes, you may be losing thousands in commissions.
Did you know that more than half of today’s home shoppers are willing to consider a new home purchase? According to a 2012 market study by Hanley-Wood for Builder Homesite, Inc. (the parent company of NewHomeSource), up to 54 percent of those who contact a real estate professional for help will consider a new home. Some 19 percent will insist on a new home, while 35 percent will consider either a new home or a resale.
About once a week I get a call from a broker or sales manager who wants some ideas on how to help their sales associates show new homes. Many times these calls come because an agent lost a sale to a homebuilder. That agent never even showed a new home to his or her resale buyer.
Here’s the lesson: If you have a prospect for a $200,000 resale and new homes are offered in your area starting at $200,000 (referred to as the price point), you have a prospect for a new home. What you may not be trained to do is ask the prospect if they’ve considered new homes, if they’ve shopped new homes on the Internet or if they’re preregistered with a homebuilder.
You may not want to know, right? After all, if they want to see new homes, this could take you out of your MLS-driven showing system. In fact, if the new home is not in the MLS, you might not know where to start.
In other words, you are unwittingly building your career, not as a professional in real estate, but a professional in resale real estate. This may be an inconvenient truth, but if you’re not serving new home prospects, you’re not serving a large segment of your market that buys in the new homes price range.
The idea of showing new homes may seem threatening because you feel you will be embarrassed by your lack of knowledge of construction. We will deal with this and other myths in another article.
For now, let’s stay focused on the showing process. The process is so simple you’ll wonder why you are not trained to show new homes by your real estate company. The reason, I have come to believe, is that MLS services are the core of the resale business. Several MLS services are now featuring new home inventory and floor plans, with more coming on board soon.
Now’s the time for you to get on board with showing new homes. Here’s what I consider to be the most important steps in the new homes showing process:
1. Always qualify for new homes if the prospect’s price point is at least as high as the lowest price point for new home construction.
Whatever you do, do not lose a sale because you showed resales only.
2. Ask questions like:
a.) During your Internet search did you look at new homes?
b.) Have you considered new homes?
c.) Have you registered with any local homebuilders?
3. Let homebuyers know that their decision makes no difference to you.
“It makes no difference to me if you purchase a resale or a new home. It’s my practice, however, to make sure my buyers can make an informed buying decision — or a no-buying decision — based on price and value comparisons between the homes I show you.
“While MLS comps are good guidelines, there’s nothing like seeing, feeling and touching what you can buy for the money, especially if you want to see resales. This is why I always show a furnished, new home model first on my showing schedule.”
4. Position yourself as your prospect’s coach.
“During the new home presentation, I will function as your coach. Your role is to ask questions. My role is to listen closely to the answers. If I think you’ve missed a question you should have asked, I will ask it for you. Otherwise, I’m not saying a word. Fair enough?”
Note: You have just taken all of the showing pressure off of you. You are not expected to give an opinion unless asked for one. Let the on-site agent do his or her job. You need to listen to your prospects tell the on-site agent what they think, then leverage these thoughts during your resale showings.
5. Coach the introduction and registration process before entering the sales office.
“During the introduction, I will share with the on-site consultant what you are looking for, so you won’t have to repeat it. You’ll be asked to register with the builder and, as your broker, so will I. This is a normal procedure.
6. Your first stop on the tour should be the site map.
This map may be on the wall or it may be on a site table. More goes on during this presentation than you may realize and it’s all important to your prospects and to you.
Here is where the location story is presented. Make sure the agent gives you a macro, not micro, location presentation. Why is this general location a growing area? Why is the community or subdivision in such a good location? It may not be because the community is near schools — it may be because there is a YMCA under construction that is a bike ride away. It obviously depends on what is important to your prospect.
Listen for the qualifying questions the on-site agents will ask your prospects. This is a great way to learn more about your prospect’s needs before you show them resales. Many times, the on-site agents, who are thoroughly trained and focused on asking the right questions, will help surface an important “need” that you did not identify during the qualifying process.
7. If there is ever a need among real estate agents to learn an important skill, it’s how to show a home. You can learn a lot from an on-site new home consultant.
Let them make their presentation without interruption. Most of them do very little talking and a lot of listening. The good ones don’t push. They lead. They ask questions. They answer questions. Remember, you told your prospects that you weren’t going to say a word, so there’s no pressure for you to speak.
Your closing comment to the on-site agent should be something like this: “So to be clear, what you are saying is that the base move-in price for this home and the lot is ($xxx,xxx).”
Your prospects leave the model with a vision of what they can buy for what price and are now prepared to intelligently and comfortably recognize the real value of the resales they are about to see, as compared to the new home they just toured.
Broker and Lifetime Achiever David Fletcher teaches general real estate agents how to become new-home professionals, based on how he listed and sold more than $3 billion in new construction over his 30-year career.
Along the way, he has been a featured speaker for the National Association of Realtors and chaired the Sales and Marketing Council for the Florida Home Builders Association.
He writes for “agents on the ground” from his experience with working with home builders and new home co-brokers and is considered a thought leader in the industry.