This is the second in a series chronicling our move into a 55+ community. If you missed the first installation, here’s a link In Search of Community.
At this point in our journey we’ve made two big decisions: 1) to move to a 55+ community; and 2) selected Trilogy at Vistancia. The next big decision is whether to buy an existing home or to build a new one. Here’s what we decided to do and why.
Existing House vs. New Build
Each option has advantages and disadvantages. Existing homes offer mature landscaping, no construction inconvenience, quicker move-in and plenty of attractively priced homes. On the other hand, floor plans and finishes may be dated and the average age of legacy neighborhoods is higher. New construction offers more open floor plans, newer technology, neighborhoods with a younger average age and the opportunity to build a house to specifications. The downside is higher prices, construction hassles, long lead time to move-in and immature landscaping. We looked at several existing homes and the model homes to help us decide. In the end we opted to go with new build because we want to be in “the younger section” of Trilogy and we want to move into a house that is just the way we want it.
Don’t Go It Alone When Building a New Home
We set up a meeting to start the new build process with the builder’s rep. The meeting goal is to select a home model (based on the model homes) and to put down a deposit (earnest money). This paves the way to move on to choosing structural and design options which are numerous.
Our assumption heading into the meeting was that everything would be handled by the builder’s rep. But that changed after I came across an article explaining how a real estate agent can help when buying new construction. We liked the idea. And because our initial meeting with the builder’s rep was only a couple of days away, we had to find an agent fast!
Fortunately we had the contact information for the agent that showed us resale homes in Trilogy. He agreed to represent us but there was a problem. In order to have our own representation, we should have said so when we first registered to see the model homes. No one from the builder’s sales team ever mentioned that we were forfeiting representation when we “registered” without an agent. And shame on us for not seeing the small sign located out of our line of sight when we entered the sales center. Obviously the builder really doesn’t want prospects to have representation.
We Catch a Break
The good news for us was that our agent lives in Trilogy. He knows the builder’s sales team and they know him. So he called the sales manager to ask for a waiver. She sent us an email stating that we want our agent to represent us and that we didn’t understand the requirement when we registered. We filled out the broker registration paperwork to make it official. Some hoops to jump through but it was worth it.
Benefits of Representation
One thing representation did for us was give us confidence. It feels great to have someone in our corner that is familiar with the process from the buyer’s perspective.
Here are some of the contributions he has made so far.
- Got additional builder incentives
- The builder wants to move forward at warp speed. Our agent got them to slow the process down
- Showed us existing houses to help prepare for the two day design process
- Made recommendations for what we should get and what we didn’t need
- Took future resale into design decisions
- Introduced us to third party contractors who offer services that the builder provides but at a lower price
And the great thing about having our own agent is that we don’t pay a single dollar. His fee is paid from the builder’s marketing budget which might explain why the builder doesn’t go out of their way to bring up representation.
The bottom line is that even if you’re building new, having your own real estate agent makes for a better deal and a better outcome – for you!
We recently took another walk through the models to get ideas leading into the upcoming design sessions. Would you believe that we ran into a couple who live within a couple of miles of where we used to live in the Bay Area? We explained the issue about forfeiting your option for representation and suggested that they amend their registration if they have interest in Trilogy. They let us know later that they did so but received a lot of grief from the builder’s agent who escorted them through the models. They also let us know that they have contacted our agent. Good for them.