Benefits of using a real estate agent to purchase land for new construction home/building?

9 Replies

My fellow BPers…

QUESTION: What are the benefits of using a real estate agent to secure the purchase of a piece of land with no existing structures?

I am looking to build a steel building/garage/workshop in south Florida. I found a piece of property through Realtor.com (listed on the MLS) in a very specific location in south Florida that I am interested in. I've done basic research (county appraiser website) and comps (as available on Realtor.com 'recently sold' search feature) and would like to contact the owner/broker for additional information on the property.

It seems that a lot of people on this site speak directly with owners of properties in their search for deals, but I'm curious if that is just because the properties aren't listed on the MLS or because of the level of knowledge/experience of the people on this site.

I have never purchased real estate before so have no personal experience with agents and the benefit of working with one, especially if I have already located the property of interest myself.  Should I contact an agent referred to me by a friend who is active in the area or just go ahead and contact the broker directly that is listed on Realtor.com?  What assistance/benefit should I expect from a real estate agent in the circumstance I've described?  What reasons, if any, should I not contact the owner/broker directly for more information on the property?

Any and all thoughts/opinions on this matter would be greatly appreciated!

Jeff

If the property is listed with a Realtor the seller may have to pay a commission to the listing agent. If you contact the real estate agent you have in mind the commission is being paid by the seller. You would be retaining a buyers agent who has your best interest in mind. They would evaluate the price, determine if the deal is in line with other properties, handle the paperwork, suggest a title company to handle the closing and prepare all of the paperwork and represent your best interest at no cost to you. I would not hesitate to utilize the real estate rep. Food for thought.

@John Moore  All very good points!

My reasoning in considered not using a buyer's agent was that since I found the property and think* that I have a handle on comps that the hard part was out of the way.  If I approached the buyer directly (without an agent) the thought was that I could offer a slightly lower price on the property to save the seller from having to pay the commission.   We're only talking about a $50k property though, so am I just being a cheap-skate?!?!

Of course a buyer's agent should value add to the process of completing the transaction in my best interests as efficiently as possible.  I have no aversion what-so-ever to paying for services rendered (in one way or another), especially since I'm fully aware that I don't know what I don't know…

Any differing opinions out there or this a relatively simple question already answered in entirety?

Jeff,

You may want to check with your local zoning and find out if an "accessory structure" is allowed on that property without a "primary residence".  

Chances are the seller has signed an "exclusive right to sell" listing agreement with their agent, which means they would still have to pay the listing agent commission even if they sold to you one on one . Even if they haven't. cutting out a buying agent doesn't save you or the seller any money. It just opens the door for negotiations to go wrong.

Think of a buyer's agent as a free lawyer. They bring expertise and good advice to a deal and it doesn't cost you anything as the buyer. Example: what @Tom Reynolds  states above is the kind of advice or knowledge your buyer's agent would have when shopping for a piece of land to build on. Not all parcels are suitable for development.

I hope this helps. Best of luck with your purchase and future enterprise!

There is no downside. It's free to you. I've even brought my agent in at the last minute to give her a 1/2 commission with little work. The next time she sees a good deal she's going to bring it to me. Agents are a powerful tool in real estate investing.

as stated earlier you will not pay your buyers agent one penny! the break down goes like this.

seller signs a contract with selling agent agreeing to pay him 6%. 

selling agent then advertises the property and agrees to pay any buyers agent that brings a buyer and buys the property 3%

if sellers agent sells the property and there is no buyers agent the seller already signed a legal contract stating he will pay the selling agent 6% thus the selling agent is jumping for joy that you didn't go get a FREE buyers agent.

Now to answer your question if u go to him directly and save a few dollars... well the seller is most likely in a contract stating no matter how it sells in the next "X" amount of days he selling agent gets paid! 

my advice go to your local real estate company and get a agent. if you feel really nice go to the company and find the newest agent who hasn't made any money since he/she got a license and i bet they will bend over backwards to make you happy in this transaction! 

@Jeff Kushner   Not knowing what you are doing could cost you far more than what you'd save on commissions. If you want an agent to represent you, make sure they have experience with land deals. Land purchases, especially for a commercial purpose are a world of their own. You need to make sure the zoning allows the use you have in mind, what will be involved in developing the parcel (are there utilities at the property, sewer, etc) Has there ever been anything on the property before? (possible contamination) Will the size of the lot allow for the size of the building you want, along with the required parking? Are there any CC&R's on the property that will restrict the style, type, size of building or the end business? (CC&R's mean Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) 

Unless you are experienced in real estate, it's always a good idea to have an agent that knows the area, the type of property you're interested in, etc. Pulling comps is a tiny piece of the big puzzle. 

@Jon Deavers @Kevin Costello @Jeremy Davis @John Moore  Thanks to your guys' encouragement, I have enlisted the services of an agent familiar with the area. I'll keep this thread updated as to what we find out about the property and county zoning restrictions and such.

@Tom Reynolds  @Karen Margrave  Thank you both for the advice.  I've got my realtor looking into zoning restrictions on the property as we speak.  The county's property appraiser website shows the property as Use Code: 0000 - VACANT, Zoning: RS - Single Family Residential ( 00-UNINCORPORATED ). I'm interested in the property to build an owner/occupant primary residence, but styled after a steel building type structure, so obviously I need to further investigate how RS-SFH is defined by the county. Again, this is NOT a commercial venture.

@Wayne Brooks  Do you have personal experiences in Palm Beach County that might lend to this discussion?

I know I'm taking a pretty big bite, with this being my first real estate transaction and all.  I've lead a pretty tumultuous and nomadic life these last 10-15 years.  Between my military service and working overseas, I've never really had a place of my own, much less anything that felt like 'home.'  I'm making a pretty big life's change and am in a position financially (at least I think) to make this dream 'home' idea a reality, so I'm going to pursue it to the max.

If the county zoning or building design or financing or whatever impose restrictions on my 'fairy tale' goal then I'll revise as necessary within whatever limits are reality and drive on.  Regardless of the outcome, I'm enjoying the learning process and will be better off for the experience one way or another.

Again, thanks to all for the tips and guidance as I begin this adventure ;)

In PB county go to the Planning and Zoning division on N Jog rd, and you can sit down with the "planner on duty" and they can help define the limits of the code, and future use codes planned for the area.  RS Single family is the standard zoning for single family residences.  They can also point you in the right direction as far as any impact  fees, etc.  Building permits dept is in the same building.  If it's within a city, there may be additional restrictions.

Comparable vacant lot sales can be tricky, as they're won't be many in developed areas, and are hard to rely on.  More important, would be the value of finished homes in the neighborhood compared to the total cost/end value of what you want to build.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Get the Ultimate Beginner's Guide

Sign up today to receive the popular eBook for free!