The Builder is Not Your Friend: The Truth About Production Builders
One of my go-to sayings, which I often use, is that two things can be true simultaneously: New construction homes, specifically those by production builders, can be a great choice for many buyers and often offer value. However, many production builders are churning out homes that are, frankly, subpar. That's the nicest term I can muster in this context.
Too frequently, home buyers and their agents give builders the benefit of the doubt. The reality is that most agents lack the knowledge, bravery, or experience to challenge the builders' narratives and positions. As a result, builders are increasingly offering less in terms of product and quality for more money.
With the current shortage of resale inventory, many home buyers, and consequently, real estate agents, are turning to new construction communities. I've been bombarded with praises of "the benefits of a new home" and agents gushing over model homes, along with exaggerated values. They tout incentives and gimmicks as value, but in reality, they're just marketing strategies. If that's the kind of guidance you're receiving when considering a new home, my advice is simple: run, don’t walk, away from that agent. I'm tired of it and hope this insight helps buyers navigate a process that's often far from the low-stress, simple, and streamlined experience it's portrayed to be, especially when it comes to holding builders accountable and demanding a superior product.
No matter how pleasant the sales staff seems, how many accolades they claim, or even if they attach the word 'luxury' to their product, remember this crucial point when buying a new construction home, particularly from a production builder: the builder is not your friend.
My Own Eye-Opening Experience
I’ve been there – captivated by model homes, swayed by attractive incentives, and charmed by persuasive salespeople. I was naive. But after years in the business and hundreds of new build sales, I've realized: these aren't just isolated incidents. It's an epidemic of cutting corners, offering fake discounts, hiding costs, and adopting a mindset of 'efficiency' that often results in a mediocre product.
Why I Felt Compelled to Write This
The most valuable lesson I've learned is that the buyers who are often labeled as 'difficult' — those who relentlessly challenge the builders on even the smallest issues or slightest inaccuracies — are the ones who receive the extra diligence and care necessary to ensure a high-quality home. These so-called 'annoying' buyers, vigilant in their oversight, consistently secure far superior homes and value compared to more passive buyers who tend to trust the builder and, sometimes, even their own agents, without question.
As demand for new homes continues to thrive, builders are only becoming more brazen. They prioritize stock prices over home quality. They hide behind excuses like COVID, supply chain issues, and labor shortages, and too many buyers are letting them off the hook. Builders have been in the driver’s seat for the last few years, hiking prices by up to 50% or more, often through deceptive pricing tactics. Demand for new homes is soaring, underscoring the urgent need for accountability.
Changes I still observe today, remnants of the COVID era, include restricted site visits, limited inspection windows, the prohibition of specialized inspections (like structural engineers), refusal to document agreed repairs, barring guests from visiting homes, preventing buyers from joining inspectors, and failing to provide proof of repairs. And finalizing prices before signing a contract? That's become rare, due to pandemic-influenced practices in design centers.
The Bigger Picture
This mirrors other industries’ attempts to do less for more. Google any builder's name followed by "quality," and you'll uncover thousands of stories – some about disastrous homes, others about satisfactory ones. Many people remain oblivious. Let this be a wake-up call for potential buyers and agents to approach new home builds with vigilance and skepticism.
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