Key reasons to get a buyer’s agent when purchasing a home

Updated: Jul. 30, 2019 at 11:04 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - First time home buyers George and Jasmine Spencer are locked in a disagreement with the builder over costly upgrades. They say they are not getting the house they wanted, but the builder says he’s building exactly to the contract.

Having a home built is a long process and it can be complicated, especially if you walk into a model home unrepresented, which is what the Spencers say they did.

A buyers agent knows what questions to ask and how to avoid confusion early on.

Jasmine and George fell in love with the Rosewood model home and set out to have Finer Homes build their dream home, just like the show house they adore.

“We thought it was a beautiful house and we were willing to buy it. We were really excited," Jasmine said.

They soon discovered their expectations did not match the home they’re getting.

“By the time we signed the contract they’re telling us, ‘Oh, that didn’t come with the house. This doesn’t come with the house.’ And now we have to upgrade,” George said.

Every change after the plan review is a $500 charge, plus the cost of the item.

“In our master bathroom we have small double vanity. Why is it so hard for them to tell you that this vanity in the model was expandable? I just want buyers to know these builders are not your friends,” Jasmine said.

The Spencers and the Finer Homes did reach an agreement over several items, but are still at odds over other upgrades. Finer Homes builder Greg Holt did not want to speak on camera, but says he doesn’t want to lose the Spencers. He says their expectations are more than what the contract shows. He also says they knew what was an upgrade and what was standard. He also said he made changes in some instances and did not charge them.

A buyer’s agent will read the contract for you, negotiate, they know what’s standard and what’s an upgrade and your agent is onsite regularly to oversee the construction.

There’s a misconception that it will cost a lot of money to have a buyer’s agent help you. These experts say it ranges from zero dollars to a small fee to have someone knowledgeable working on your behalf. Get referrals from friends and family, and interview at least three agents to make sure you are comfortable with them.

Associate brokers Heather and Curt Reichstetter with Clocktower Realty Group offered some advice for prospective buyers.

Neither is connected to the Spencers’ complaint and Curt is president of Richmond Association of Realtors. He said labeling model homes can be a problem.

“It takes away from the aesthetics of what you’re walking into. If you saw a label on every little thing, it might detract from the overall experience,” Curt said. "Builders don’t want their clients to be confused. That angst doesn’t work well in a relationship. builders want their clients to be happy and to get what they’ve paid for.”

Both experts pointed to the contract as a legal document that spells out the terms of the home construction.

“It had to be in the contract what those things were. It’s very possible it just wasn’t read closely enough," Heather said. "An agent is going to be there to read it for you and to ask those question you may not know need asking.”

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