As a boy growing up in a construction family, I never really understood the reason why. “That’s just the way things are,” my father explained one day. “It’s like oil and water, builders and real estate brokers just don’t mix.”
A few years later, on our way home from work one day, I decided to rile him up a little. “You aren’t going to believe it, but I heard about a builder who’s actually married to a real estate agent!”
You should have seen his reaction to this anomaly. “What are they crazy?” he asked. “You know I don’t support mixed marriages … Can you imagine the children that could come from a marriage like that?”
While my father’s attitude may seem extreme, most of us would agree that many builders don’t fully appreciate the value of broker participation in new home sales. Sadly, quite a few builders have had negative experiences that bring some level of justification to this position. Some of those negative experiences in my own career as a builder became the catalyst that inspired me to dedicate the last 23 years of my life to helping the real estate brokers and associates work successfully in new home sales.
The good news, however, is that builder-broker relations have come a long way. Builders are learning that the real estate industry is made up of many dedicated professionals with a great deal of value to bring to the business. Many home builders can actually be described as “aggressive” in their pursuit of broker participation. More builders than ever before have established marketing services relationships with a broker, while many others are receptive to the idea.
The great news is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the opportunities available to us in new home sales. Smaller builders everywhere are struggling to compete with larger builders who, through technology and smarter marketing, are eating a bigger piece of the new home market pie every year. With the right training, systems and market awareness, we can structure the right relationships with the right builders and realize incredible sales success.
Everyday, our Certified New Home SpecialistsÔ are demonstrating this. One office in Atlanta, headed by manager Nancy Carll, CNHS, grew their sales to more than $320 million. Of the 1100 homes they sold, over 70% were new homes, and most of the other 30% came about as a result of the new home marketing. Sales associate Ruth LeBlanc Jones, CNHS, was honored as the Connecticut Home Builders Association REALTOR of the year two years in a row. At one point her personal sales volume exceeded $120-million, almost all of it in new homes. Mitch Weigal, CNHS, a real estate associate less than a year, applied his Certified New Home Specialist training to land a marketing contract for a 702 lot subdivision. “I think I’m in pretty good shape as far as listing inventory for a while,” he told me excitedly after landing the deal.
What’s even more exciting is the fact that while an abundance of opportunities can be found in representing builders, an equally amazing opportunity lies in representing new home buyers. This is an area that has been almost entirely overlooked by our industry, yet, in a world where buyer agency is well-established, it’s a natural for properly trained associates.
A two-year study my company conducted found that the majority of home buyers today want to at least consider the purchase of a new home. Further, most of these buyers would prefer to have a knowledgeable, qualified real estate professional help them in their search. Studies continue to substantiate this need. And, as we work with these buyers, we find that many listing and resale opportunities come about as a result.
The great news is that we continue to train more brokers and associates looking to stake a claim in this lucrative area.
I was surprised when my father called a few months ago interested in buying a new home. “Can you recommend a good real estate agent who knows about new homes in our area?” he asked. “Now that I’m retired, I don’t know what’s out there and I need someone to help us sell the old house.”
Maybe we’re not trying to mix oil and water after all.