Finding new construction can be a challenging and frustrating experience for home buyers in today’s market because there’s no central repository for homes that are in the planning or early phases of construction. The MLS is a great resource for completed homes and the occasional home under construction, but most builders do not want to put all of the homes in their pipeline on the MLS. The reason might surprise you–and it’s vanity.
Once a home is listed in the MLS all the data about that home is available and the clock starts ticking on whether that home is priced right or even something a consumer wants to buy. What this means is that if the builder gets any of that stuff wrong, it will amplify those errors on the rest of his pipeline. The builder’s stats will potentially show that their homes sit on the market a long time before anyone finally buys them. However if the home was listed before they broke ground, but sold to the first buyer as soon as it was safe to walk through, the days on market would reflect a much longer time to sell. And in the case where the home didn’t sell until months after it was complete, the days on market would be incredibly long.
The same is true for pricing. Builders will do anything within reason to ensure they get list price or more for their home. It’s like paying MSRP at the car dealership. Again, now that all the data is available, if people see that a builder will discount one house, they know that the builder will discount future houses. A good agent will negotiate you more upgrades to keep the builder happy with his MSRP sticker price.
All these tie into the builder’s baseball card statistics. They want to be known as the builder that quickly and efficiently sells a great product at a great price. Getting involved with listing homes that are not ready to go really complicates that goal which is why you don’t see too many pre-construction homes on the MLS.
So where can you find the pre and new construction homes?
Facebook is flooded with examples of agents telling you they have the inside line into the inventory, but they’re just lead generation forms.
The tried and true method is to drive around in the area you’re interested in and see who’s doing what. Or better yet, have your agent do that for you. From there you can call the builder and find out what’s going on. From home, you can dig through the permit records yourself and see what’s going on, or better yet, check out this new tool that combines all the permitting info on a map.