While most Realtors happily work with clients whether they are buying a home or selling their home, the best circumstances occur when one Realtor has the ability to work with the same clients as their buyers’ agent and their listing agent.
Of course, an important reason that this arrangement works well for Realtors is the opportunity to earn two commissions, but representing people at both ends of their move also allows for a measure of control over the transactions and the ability to develop a long-term relationship.
Expanding your expertise in selling newly built homes can increase the chances that you can represent clients for both their home sale and their home purchase.
“It’s pretty common for Realtors to help their customers as both buyers’ agents and listing agents,” says Melanie Holton, broker/owner of Century 21 Holton Realty in Chappell Hill, Texas. “It’s probably happens as often to have their listing and then find them a home to buy as it is vice versa.”
Patricia Ammann, a Realtor with Redfin brokerage in McLean, Va., says that part of being a successful Realtor is to establish a relationship based on trust with clients.
“When I work with buyers of newly built homes I find that establishing that trust is even more important, especially if they’re buying something that’s a hole in the ground when they make their first deposit,” says Ammann. “When you’ve spent six months to a year with clients, they want to work with you again to sell their home or for future transactions.”
Typically people start shopping for a new home before they think about selling their house, says Joe Murphy, an associate broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
“They shop first because they want to find something that makes them want to move,” he says. “Unfortunately that’s backward, because they run into the danger of falling in love with something they can’t really afford, then they spend the rest of their time house hunting comparing everything to ‘the one that got away.’ ”
Murphy recommends that move-up buyers sell their current home before they’re ready to make an offer on a new home. “It’s better to be homeless than to try to pay for two homes,” he says.
Many builders won’t accept an offer contingent on the sale of a home, says Holton, so she often suggests that buyers looking at newly built homes sell their home and move into temporary housing while waiting for their home to be built.
Murphy says it’s important to always listen to every client to understand their needs and see if you can help them with more than one transaction.
“Earlier this week I had a couple call me to look at a condo I was listing,” says Murphy. “Once I met with them and we talked, I ended up listing their home for sale and helping them buy acreage where they plan to build a custom home. You never know what might come up until you talk to people and help them define their goals.”
Timelines and Move-Up Buyers
Buyers often look at newly built homes before they’ve thought about putting their house on the market.
“In order to get their listing, as well as represent them as buyers, I ask them if they’re ready to list their home now and if their house is ready,” says Holton.
Holton schedules an appointment to walk through their house and do a market analysis, give them advice about what they should do to prepare for the sale and to discuss how long it may take to sell their house.
“It’s really important to know the details of your customers timelines for the selling end and the purchase end,” she says, “You need to ask if they’ve seen a lender and have an idea of what they’ll net from the home sale. That way you can make yourself a useful part of both sides of the transaction.”
In markets with low inventory, some buyers don’t want to sell their home first because they fear not being able to find something to buy, says Ammann.
“Once a relationship has been established with me as their buyers’ agent, the customers usually ask me to list their home because I’ve proven to them that I’m protecting their interests,” she says.
Selling Newly Built Homes
Murphy says successful real estate agents need to know the entire inventory of their local market, including new homes, resales and vacant land. He says while everyone can look for property online, they need a Realtor to help them make sense of what’s available and of relative value.
“You need to show people the value of buying a new home in terms of the upgrades, the convenience and energy efficiency,” says Murphy. “If you know the builders well and are familiar with their models and prices, it makes it easier for you to compare them with available resales.”
Murphy says some builders will accept a contract contingent on the sale of a home and others won’t, so he suggests providing that information to buyers as part of a strategy to become their listing agent.
Ammann recommends getting to know builders in your area because clients are reassured when they see that a builder already has a relationship with their real estate agent.
“It’s important to understand the way contracts for newly built homes are different from contracts for resale homes,” says Ammann. “I explain to clients that I can advise them on all the decisions they need to make and to point out issues they may want to address in the contract even if they can’t negotiate on price.”
Holton says real estate agents who sell new construction need to tell their buyers to be sure they follow the instructions of the builders about how to give credit to their agent. Builders have a process to register a real estate agent and client, sometimes requiring the agent to be present the first time the buyer visits a model home.
“Some builders actively seek out Realtors and do presentations in our office and others are less proactive, so it’s up to Realtors to find out about developments and to find out how they can register with their buyers so they can get paid for their work,” says Holton.
Tips for Working as Buyer’s Agent and Listing Agent
Real estate is a referral-based business, so providing excellent customer service and developing relationships with builders, other agents, lenders and potential clients are essential elements to expanding your business with new-home sales.
- Be responsive. Ammann says that agents should respond immediately to requests for information, even if they just send a note that says, “I’m working on finding an answer and will get back to you as soon as possible.” She says agents should set up the expectation that they will be there for the buyers and sellers whenever they need anything.
- Listen. Murphy says sometimes people don’t even know what they want until they sit with a Realtor and investigate their needs. He says Realtors can end up working both ends of a transaction if they can figure out a solution to their clients’ needs.
- Be trustworthy. “I tell buyers and sellers about the good and bad aspects of all properties and I’m transparent in everything I do,” says Ammann.
“Recognize that selling one home and buying another is always stressful, regardless of whether your client is buying a newly built home or an existing home,” says Murphy. “The best thing you can do as a Realtor is to minimize that stress on both sides of the transaction.”
Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades.
She writes for regional, national and international publications in print and online for a variety of audiences including consumers, real estate investors, business owners and real estate professionals.
Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Urban Land magazine, NAREIT’s REIT magazine, National Real Estate Investor Magazine and online at Bankrate.com, HSH.com, The Motley Fool, DailyFinance.com, Insurance.com, Fox Business, MSN, Yahoo, Investopedia.com, MoneyCrashers.com, GetRichSlowly.com and in numerous state and local realtor association publications.