Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Avoiding the Bad Home Buyer

Every new home builder, whether you are a modular home builder or a site builder, has had at least one “customer from hell.”  Once you’ve signed the contract and the house is in process there’s little that can be done with one of these buyers except consulting a lawyer who will probably tell you to complete the contract you signed and forget them after your warranty period.

Easier said than done!

So how do you avoid these people in the first place?  It’s not as hard as you would think.  They usually fall into certain categories.  The biggest problem you will have is turning one of these down if you’ve got nothing on your plate and you’ve got to get some work. 

Here are the types of new home buyers to avoid:

  • I need another quote:  This prospective home buyer wants you to draw floorplan after floorplan and quote everything.  You will never quite get it right but eventually they will give you the OK and sign a contract only to be your worse nightmare during construction because you “just don’t understand what we want.”
  • Selective hearing:  Having this type for a client is bad; very bad.  During the quoting phase, they only wanted you to lowball the price.  You got the contract but now they want changes that they say you said were included.  You didn’t but that doesn’t matter now.
  • The legal eagle: The threats are real.  Anything you do seems to provide a reason for your buyer to contact their lawyer.  Instead of talking to you about a problem they go to their lawyer first.  Now you have the customer from hell and the lawyer he rode in on.
  • I’m unavailable:  Have you ever had the client that can’t be reached when there is a decision to be made?  You call, you get voice mail.  You email, it goes unanswered.  Your texts are ignored and just when you are about to give up, they call wanting to know what the delay is.  Where’s the rifle?
  • Micro-manager:  We’ve all had this client.  I once had a buyer move a travel trailer onto the building lot and lived there while we built his house.  He was under foot and a master of questioning everything.  My subs hated him, my workers hated him and eventually I didn’t even want to go to the job site. 
  • Gossiping Guy:  This guy will speak sweet nothings to you when you’re face to face but will talk to all your subs and employees trying to get some dirt about you that they can gossip about to anyone that will listen.  You usually don’t find out about this until the house is almost finished and someone says something to you about it.  95% of the time, the gossip is false but the damage is done.
  • The bargain hunter:  Hopefully you will not sign a contract with this buyer until you call their bluff.  No matter what price you quote for the house, they claim to know someone who can build it for less.  The best response to this bluff is, “This is a fair price.  If you can get your house built cheaper, go for it.”  It is better to lose them before the contract is signed.
  • Never-happy guy:  Occasionally you’ll run into buyers who aren’t happy no matter what you do.  Changing their attitude can be difficult – sometimes impossible.  As long as you do what is in the contract, your conscience should be clear.  Their never-happy attitude could stem from a variety of things: maybe their very busy or afraid of being scammed by you or their simply shy.  Do your best and treat them with respect – the rest is up to them.

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