You're thinking of building a custom home on your land… so why on earth are we talking about a question to ask a real estate agent? The question to ask first might be, why would you even need a real estate agent in the first place? Well, aside from selling your existing home, there are a couple of reasons you might need the services of a really good agent.
- 1. If you don't already have land to build on, you're going to need some. You might want help with finding the land and buying it without getting burned.
- 2. You might want third-party help finding the builder who is a good fit for your situation, and many real estate professionals have a network of other professionals, including homebuilders.
What Should You Ask Your Realtor?
If one of the above reasons makes sense to you, here's the question to ask any real estate agent you're considering:
"Why in the world would you help someone who's looking to build a house on land when you know you'll have to wait months to get your commission?"
Oh boy, you can have fun with this one! As with anyone you pay for services, your fundamental concern must be whether this provider is more concerned about taking care of your needs or getting a fast paycheck.
Don't get me wrong, I understand that all of us need a paycheck, and that's the primary reason we work. However, I have found that the most successful professionals are the ones who take the long view.
They understand that the best way to produce long-lasting, robust financial results is to put the interests of their clients first. These people realize that their income months and years from now will increase dramatically when the clients they've served selflessly come back year after year and refer their family and friends as well.
Listen to The Realtor's Answers
So, the answer to that one question will tell you a lot about whether they will work diligently on your behalf or whether they'll simply try to push you to buy a house that's already built. Their answer might be, "I have a steady stream of income from my pipeline of happy clients, so I don't need to be in a hurry." Or it could be, "Sorry, I can't help," which saves you time. It could also be a deer-in-the-headlights look that suggests they've never thought about it or know that you suspect ulterior motives.
Once you've decided on a general area where you're looking for land, drive around looking for real estate signs and write down the names. Once you see a particular name four or five times on different properties, you know you've found an agent who is actively working that area.
That's a good place to start. That agent should have a pretty good idea of land values and the pros and cons of different locations within the area. They might even be able to connect you to a trustworthy builder.
Look for an agent who either understands land (meaning the weird details you have to watch out for when buying raw land), or one who knows whom to ask and isn't too proud to do so.
Beware of the Agent...
1. Who Only Wants to Show You Existing Homes
Beware of the agent who wants to show you lots of existing houses. That's a sign that she either doesn't know how to find what you want, isn't listening, or is just looking for the quick paycheck.
2. Who Wants to Be at Every Meeting You Have with a Builder
Also beware of the agent who wants to be involved in every meeting you have with a builder. That could mean he doesn't trust that he'll get paid a commission, which he has rightfully earned if he introduced you to that builder.
That would make me wonder why the real estate agent would refer me to a builder he doesn't trust, and it would make me wonder if I could trust that builder, but that's an article for another day.
A real estate agent can be extremely helpful in finding the right land on which to build your custom home. But make sure to ask that one question to ensure you're working with an agent who has your best interest at heart.