Not every potential homebuyer is interested in purchasing an existing property. In fact, many want to design and build a custom home, which means it’s the real estate agent‘s job to help them find the perfect piece of land.
While it can be more challenging to work with a client looking for lots, you must equip yourself as an agent with the knowledge necessary to best assist your clients in locating a place to build their home.
Simply put, you must think like a builder when looking for land.
Before a house can be built, the future homeowners must find a lot to build on, and that’s when the agent comes into play.
Not many builders carry a large inventory of available lots to hold for custom homes, so more often than not the future homeowner has to secure their own lot before going to a builder. Sometimes, clients have a specific builder in mind, and if that is the case, bring the builder on board to help during the search for land.
It is ideal for both the builder and client to work alongside an agent to find a lot suitable for the project. Utilize the builder’s expertise while inspecting lots and building preliminary budgets to ensure the overall cost meets the client’s expectations.
How to search for a lot
During the search, you must first establish your client’s overall budget for both the lot and completed home, as well as get a basic understanding of their fundamental style and home concept — just as you would if you were helping a client search for an existing home. Having knowledge of the style of home your client wants to build will help narrow down locations, the shape and size of lot to target.
To receive a more realistic approximate cost of building your client’s desired home, consult with the builder during this process.
After establishing the basics of the future home, you should gather more personal information about your client. Ask questions about their daily routine, such as where they work or go to school, what area of town they prefer to live in and how long they want their day-to-day commute to be.
What to do when you find one
When the client finds a lot they are interested in purchasing, you must arm yourself with the information a builder will need to determine if the lot is viable for a new property. A good starting point is to survey, verify deed restrictions and check Home Owners Association (HOA) guidelines.
It is crucial to analyze the lot for desirable and undesirable components, just as you would with the purchase of an existing home. Agents must make sure the home is in a suitable neighborhood and that the shape and size of the lot is conducive for the style and size of the future home.
Architectural limitations, such as height limitations, are also elements to consider, particularly if your client is interested in a specific style of home.
Things to remember
One of the best pieces of advice from a builder to an agent is to remember that looking for a lot to build on, whether it is an empty lot or an infill, is more difficult than looking for an existing home. Typically, lot inventory is very limited, and properties are often unlisted on the open market, only known by word-of-mouth through agents and builders working in a specific area.
In addition, many available vacant lots are from the result of another building being torn down. The fear of the unknown becomes a common issue, as you may not know if the demolition was done properly, which can negatively affect the new construction. If you come across a previously demolished property, ask questions like:
- “Was there a pool, and was it correctly removed?”
- “Did the demolition team remove all of the piers below the old foundation?”
- “Did they cover up excessive debris?”
- “Did they properly compact the site after the demolition to avoid sink holes?”
Clients that want to build a custom home have their eyes on the end result, so it’s up to the agent to steer them towards a lot that will be the perfect start to their dream home.
John Leggett is the Founder and CEO of On Point Custom Homes, a luxury custom homebuilder focused on designing and building modern homes in Houston’s inner landscape.
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