The Short List: Sean McCarthy’s Tips on How to Effectively Service New Construction Clients

by James McClister


Sean McCarthy is a broker manager for NewHomePrograms.com working in Houston.

Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we spoke with Sean McCarthy, a broker manager with NewHomePrograms.com, who shared his tips on how to effectively service new construction clients. 

10. Take the time to preview the new home communities and visit with the different sales counselors with the different builders. Set a goal of visiting three or more new home builder communities per week until you have built up a solid knowledge base. Each builder is unique in what they offer regarding incentives and floor plans. The more you know what new home options are out there, the stronger you will become as an agent. Also, this will aid you in building a rapport with the builder, as well as provide you as the agent valuable information on the community.

Due to the very nature of their business, sales counselors are a wellspring of information on their product as well as local community info, such as the tax rate, schools districts, local area attractions and different homebuying programs that are available in the area.

Clients will build confidence in your abilities when you take the time to do the research on the from end, rather than finding out as you go along. In addition, good sales counselors will help you by saying things such as “I’ve worked with your Realtor before and he knows the community” or ” Your Realtor has taken the time to come out here to preview the community,” and that goes along way. It shows that you are well connected in the real estate community and knowledgeable.

9. Partner up with the sales counselor and take an interest in how well a community is doing in sales.

Don’t be afraid to ask the following: How are sales; how long have you been in the community; what attracts clients to the community; what are some of the challenges or objections home buyers have; and, of course, what can I do as a Realtor to help you drive sales?

By doing this, you are setting yourself up by offering to assist in obtaining more sales. This is especially effective when you are working with a sales counselor that’s new to a community or a company! Once you have the sales counselor on your team, this will benefit you as the Realtor in different ways, such as joint marketing campaigns, hosting open houses on inventory homes and sitting in and taking a walk while the agent is out. All of the following will lead to you increasing your sales.

You have to adapt the mentality of “what can I do to help this sales counselor out?”.

Needless to say, if you are talking to a sales counselor in a hot community where there are a ton of walk-ins and buyers lining up out the door, you may have to get creative in identifying how you can be an asset to them. Regardless of how successful they are as a sales counselor, there still may be ways you can assist.

8. Go over the features and benefits of purchasing new home construction vs. resale with your clients.

Purchasing a new home has become an attractive prospect because it provides clients with the option of purchasing a home that meets the lifestyles and budget of the client rather than settling for the previous owner’s interpretation of what a home should be.

New homes offer a much higher level of energy efficiency than a resale home built 10 to 20 years ago, regardless of how well it’s been maintained. That translates into a lower monthly operating cost and allows the client to spend their money where it counts, on features for the home itself.

Clients will have peace of mind knowing that most new home builders offer a home warranty that can cover them up to 10 years.

Builders are utilizing the latest in technology, materials and building techniques that are way more advanced than 20 years ago. This translates to a better, longer lasting home and a more solid investment.

Clients don’t have to worry about getting beat out when submitting an offer on a home like you would when working with a resale. The builders will spell out the terms for you and you client in black and write, Once you client has agreed to the terms, you contract is ratified and executed.

7. Most of the builders use preferred or approved lenders that the builder has chosen to work with and refer their clients to for loan approval. Although your client does have the right to work with whatever lender they choose, the builder can and will offer incentives to use the lender they have selected. Please keep in mind this is a business interest to the builder because they have more control over the loan process and can hold the lender more accountable if the loan doesn’t close on time. As the Realtor, be sure the proper expectations are set with all interested parties in the transaction from the beginning. If the home is closing with 30 to 45 days, be sure to follow up with the lender, sale counselor and construction on a weekly basis to ensure the loan and construction remain on track for closing.

6. Set the proper expectations with your client and be sure your client, sales counselor and lender communicates with you at all times.

Remember that you are the hub of the wheel. In order for the transaction to go smoothly, you MUST set the expectation earlier on that communication is to go through you. This is important – assuming you as the agent have a buyer rep agreement to work for the client, which means you must look out for your client’s interest. The sales counselor works for the builder, which means they must represent the seller’s (builder’s) interest. The goal is no different than it would be when working with a buyer and seller on a resell contract – to obtain and have a meeting of the minds and build a win-win scenario for all parties. Also, ensure that you’re representing your client’s wants and needs when working with a builder. Sometimes this involves taking them to several different builders until they find the right one that meets their wants and needs.

5. Stay calm remember not to take anything personal! It’s fair to say that buying a home can be, even under the best of circumstances, challenging. This can become compounded when you are having one built from scratch and you have a client going out to the lot every week to check on the job site, calling you every time there’s a form board out of place or a nail bent in the wrong direction. This can eventually work the nerves of even the most calm and rocksteady of agents.

In this business you deal with a variety of personalities. Your client may not like the builder that you have selected, or have as good a rapport with the sales counselor as you do. Stay calm and stick to the plan, your goal is to have a happy client at the end of the transaction. In most cases the client just wants to feel validated when a perceived issue arises.

Occasionally you will also deal with a sales counselor that is not very helpful. Always remain the professional and do what is right on behalf of your client.

4. Document all communication with with your client, sales counselor and lender, especially once they are on contract.

When you are selling with a four to eight month build time, things that are said or promised can be forgotten, but if it’s in writing, it cannot be disputed.

3. Ask the sales counselors to email you any special incentives or bonus plans and the inventory list on their community. This will give you a strategic edge in knowing what’s out there and available to your clients. In a market with reduced inventory, you want to have access to this info as soon as it becomes available. In some cases, builders will let you list their homes on the MLS to attract more buyers. This can easily turn into another lead generating source for you, as well as providing firsthand access to your clients for inventory.

2. Get to know and understand the difference between a production builder and a custom builder.

Also, take the time to the price points of differing builders.

This information is especially useful when dealing with clients who have unreal expectations of what what should be in a home on a certain price point. We as agent must strive to be experts in our field, which includes determining how far a client’s money will take them. The inverse is also true. I deal with several east and west coast clientele that are simply amazed at how much of a home they can buy in Houston. For $300,000, a buyer could maybe get a two bedroom bungalow in L.A., but it will by you a McMansion in Houston!

1. Have fun and enjoy what you do! It will show and your clients will feed into it. Set goals for yourselves to learn something new about new construction. Take your clients out to see a new home being built and get them actively involved and invested in the process. Help them to make their interior and exterior selections. Take pictures at different phases of construction and at closing. This will translate into repeat business and referrals.

A dedicated professional, Sean McCarthy has been a broker with NewHomePrograms.com for nearly five years. 

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