What to Know About Sitting the Model for a Builder

Happy business partners.
Realtors who sit the model — showing the model while the builder’s sales rep is out — can lead to business leads for you.

As a Realtor who’s new to selling newly built homes and working with builders or who’s new in real estate in general, you may consider what’s referred to as “sitting the model.”

Sitting the model is just that — sitting in (well, most likely, you’ll be on your feet helping visitors) a model home for a homebuilder and explaining the builder’s products to prospective buyers. Real estate professionals do not need to have an exclusive listing with the builder in order to sit the model for them, but you do need to have permission from the builder, their sales representative or the listing agents who do have the builder listings, if any.

The Benefits of Sitting the Model For a Builder

Why, you ask, would a real estate agent sit a model in the first place? The answer is obvious, says Jolie Williams, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Plano, Texas: potential clients.

Sitting a model can be mutually beneficial, as builders don’t have to use resources (sales professionals or other employees) to sit the model or sales pros get a much-needed day off and real estate agents who sit the model have access to potential clients.

“Working with a builder or their rep to sit in the model home on their days off is great,” Williams says. “Hold them open as often as you can because it is a great way to pick up clients.”

Kyle Alfriend, lead agent in Dublin, Ohio, real estate firm The Alfriend Group – RE/MAX, agrees. “Many people search new homes very early in their decision process, often before they have committed to another Realtor,” he says. “Therefore, you can (1) pick up buyers and (2) pick up the listing if they have a home to sell.”

He says there are other benefits too: “(Sitting the model) is arguably the fastest way to lean how to demonstrate a home and learn the questions that are important to buyers.”

And, if you don’t know much about construction, consider sitting a model a good introduction. Knowing and understanding construction terms will be helpful not only in selling newly built homes, but existing homes as well, Alfriend adds.

How to Get Started With Model Sitting

What’s most important when it comes to sitting the model, or even getting your foot in the door at a builder’s model home, is to build relationships with builders, Williams says.

“Builders are often opening new neighborhoods and their representatives are moving from a neighborhood across town and may not know agents in the area. It’s all about building relationships and just simply asking (if they’d be open to you sitting a model).”

In addition to calling builders and asking if you could sit a model, Alfriend says you can also “call listing agents who have builder listings and ask them and call builder’s on-site sales reps and ask to cover the model on their days off.”

It’s important to note, though, that sitting a model is a responsibility you must take seriously. First, a builder must trust that you will show their product professionally and accurately. Second, you are committing to sit the model for an agreed-upon time frame, so you can’t leave early — even if no one is showing up, Alfriend says.

“(Sit the model) only when there is a large amount of quality perspective clients, not already tied in with another Realtor,” he says. “It is a variation on an open house. I would expect a minimum of three to five (visitors) an hour or close the model down.”

In other cases, some of the visitors you see will already be represented by another Realtor, so it’s important to weigh how much time you’ll be committing to the amount of traffic and prospective clients you’ll come across.

As you start your real estate career, sitting the model can be an excellent way to find clients. What’s more important, though, is the relationships you’ll build with local homebuilders and their sales professionals.

About the author 

Patricia Garcia

Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning freelance journalist and former content manager for NewHomeSource. She graduated from New Mexico State University in 2003 with a major in Journalism and Mass Communications.

Garcia has worked as a reporter and editor for The Associated Press and several daily newspapers in New Mexico, covering a variety of topics including breaking news, arts and entertainment and home and garden/lifestyle features and was associate editor of the Texas Bar Journal. She has won three awards in the National Association of Real Estate Editors' annual competition.

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