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Real estate agents help builders in rebound

By Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

“Homebuilders love real estate agents,” said Alan Banks of Evans Coghill Homes, now building in Riverwalk in Rock Hill.

He said lots of buyers think that it’s the other way around, that builders don’t much care for outside brokers and agents. “Buyers seem to think that we view agents as bad news. That’s not true.”

The relationship is more important than ever as the market rebounds from its slump.

Late last year, during a tour of Riverwalk, Banks observed that agents hadn’t paid much attention to the innovative neighborhood emerging on the site of a former industrial complex on the banks of the Catawba. Agents came around often when his company was building in Baxter in Fort Mill, just up Interstate -77.

In Rock Hill, where Evans Coghill and Saussy Burbank were introducing the first homes, not so much.

Fast forward to two weeks ago: A True Homes agent said casually that more than 100 agents turned out for the grand opening of a new True model.

Wow! Could things really have changed so much?

Indeed – yes.

Chris Folk, a partner in Evans Coghill, said the first 15 homes the company sold in Riverwalk were sold without outside agents or brokers. The last four included brokers. It has been a dramatic turnaround.

Of course, there have been lots of changes since late last year.

The overall market is heating up weekly.

Lots of prospective buyers, formerly on the sidelines, have started looking for homes.

As they visit, agents are learning more about the homes in Riverwalk and appreciating what they see.

Evans Coghill won a Gold for custom home of the year in the area builders’ Major Achievement Awards. The neighborhood got lots of visitors during the recent Parade of Homes.

Banks and Folks agree that the relationship between outside agents and new-home builders is still misunderstood by some buyers.

Buyers of existing homes typically are represented by their own agent and understand that the listing agent represents the seller. Two agents, representing two brokerages, are involved in the transaction. The two sides split the standard 6 percent commission. That’s the norm.

Basically, it’s the same for a new house. The new-home company pays its own salespeople, then provides a 3 percent commission to be split by the buyer’s agent and broker.

The True Homes saleswoman said her company’s sales executives emphasize – over and over – how crucial agents are to True’s success.

Banks said the same: “(Agents) are very important to our business.”

Special to the Observer: homeinfo@charter.net

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