Now I usually pride myself on staying in close contact with all of my former clients, but I’ll admit, when I sold them their home, I was solely representing a community and not thinking ahead. Since going out on my own 7 years ago, my primary focus has been on my more recent clientele.
From our discussion that night, I found out that they had recently moved from their original home and built a new home on acreage in a nearby town. A number of years ago, they’d been in a position to purchase the land and continued to contemplate building their long term home on the site. When they finally decided to do so, they had seen a number of open houses in the area and decided on a builder they seemed to like.
They contacted the builder and started working on plans and moving forward. The builder had a representing agent, but the buyers did not. They knew the other agent well and totally trusted him, but as one should know, it’s the duty of the Seller’s Representative to work on behalf of the seller unless working in what we call a Limited Dual Agency contract. In a dual agency situation, the agent can represent on both sides, but there is compensation expected to do so. Many times we see buyers attempt to save a little money by working directly with the seller to avoid the extra costs.
Here’s where it gets complicated.
The seller was attempting to build something not at all in his wheelhouse. He really had the best of intentions, but the buyers’ land was complicated and not something this “primarily high end spec builder” was used to doing. It’s hard to say no to business though, and the seller continued to push forward. Time and money on behalf of both parties was spent. Material costs continue to rise, and by not starting the build job, the price of materials went up. Months and months were spent planning and things weren’t getting any less expensive. On the day before construction was to begin, the builder sent a message to the buyers apologizing profusely, but saying he just couldn’t do it.
Now the buyers had to start all over again, spending more time and money to do so. Of course, as they told me the story my jaw dropped, as I know this builder well and could have predicted that it was not a good fit. He’s a great builder, but he was working outside of his comfort zone.
Your REALTOR® will do the vetting for you.
There are many questions to be properly vetted during the search for a homebuilder that someone should have been asking on behalf of the buyers. An experienced REALTOR®, especially one with new construction knowledge, would have known what to ask, what expectations to set, and how to find the right match for the buyers.
Of course, my immediate reaction, embarrassingly, was “Oh, I wish you’d called me!” I could have helped them avoid wasting time, money, stress and so much more. Their response was, “We know! In hindsight, we should have called.”
Now, in my opinion, this was my fault. I should have done a better job staying in touch with my clients and making sure they knew the value of my role in a transaction. The cost of representation definitely would have been less than the cost of the time, planning expenses, etc. that they accrued (twice – once they obtained another builder). They were so in the throes of shock, etc, that they quickly hired a great custom builder, again without a REALTOR®, but eventually get the home they wanted. The question is: at what cost?
There’s a reason we’re called professionals.
It’s like going through an IRS audit when you didn’t pay to have an accountant do the work for you because you were trying to avoid costs. How much does it cost to get it corrected? A great REALTOR® can save you so much time and money, and most importantly, a great REALTOR® can ensure that your home buying or building experience is enjoyable rather than stressful.
Please, when you are getting ready to move, make sure you’re protected. The builders and sellers are protected for a reason. Make sure you are too.