Do I need a Realtor when building a custom home?

John Merrill custom home

Building a custom home in the Jacksonville, Florida, area is an exciting journey filled with endless possibilities. It’s your chance to create a space that truly reflects your personality and meets your unique needs. That said, the road to your dream home can be filled with twists and turns. Having the right support is crucial.

Many people wonder whether they should contract with a Realtor when building a custom home.

At John Merrill Homes, we know firsthand the expertise of Realtors—we have two of them on our team! It’s critical to work with someone who understands the local market and can help you choose an area where the value of your custom home will appreciate over time. Our in-house team can guide you seamlessly through the journey, but you have options. Every situation is a little different. We hope the following will help you make an informed decision so you can get the support you need to see your dream become a reality.

How a Realtor can help you in the custom home-building process

Realtors play an important role in the initial stages of building a custom home. Here are some ways they can assist:

  • Matching you with the right builder: An experienced, well-networked Realtor can help connect you with the right builder, based on your vision, needs, selected area, and budget. Make sure you choose a Realtor who knows the reputations of builders who work in your area.
  • Setting up meetings: Your Realtor may help schedule meetings between you and potential builders, helping to streamline the process.
  • Providing recommendations: A Realtor who knows the local market well may offer insights into neighborhoods and can recommend builders who have a strong track record in those areas.

What Realtors typically don’t do in a custom build

While Realtors are invaluable in the early stages, your selected design + build firm will handle the rest. Some people are surprised to hear that Realtors don’t get involved in the following components of a custom build project:

  • Negotiations: In the Jacksonville, FL, market, Realtors do not negotiate with custom builders. The discussions regarding budget, costs, and scope of work are directly between the client and the builder. Why? Because we’re building you a custom home, designed to meet your budget. Unlike in a residential real estate transaction, the negotiation piece of a custom build involves designing a home as close to your dream as possible, within the constraints of your budget and lot.
  • Post-contract involvement: Once a contract is signed, the Realtor’s role diminishes, and the builder takes over all communication and project management. In our case, the Realtor receives his or her commission when you sign your contract.

The John Merrill Homes Advantage

Even if you don’t have a Realtor, you’re in good hands with John Merrill Homes. Our in-house team offers extensive real estate expertise and personalized service to ensure your custom home-building experience is smooth and enjoyable.

  • Expert guidance: If you don’t have a relationship with an outside Realtor, our experienced real estate professionals can provide market insights, run comparative analyses, and offer advice on whether it makes financial sense to build your desired design or add on to your existing home.
  • Neighborhood knowledge: We build here and we live here. We have extensive experience in Jacksonville Beach, Nassau County, Neptune Beach, Ponte Vedra, Ponte Vedra Beach, Vilano Beach, and Yulee (visit our Where We Build page to learn more about these areas). We know what works here and how to design homes and additions that will generate long-term value.
  • Comprehensive Support: Our team is with you every step of the way—this is a key benefit of working with a design + build firm. We handle everything from site analysis to final construction, ensuring all your needs are met.

Our process for designing and building a custom home

Our goal is to make the custom home-building process as straightforward as possible:

  1. Initial consultation: We start with a no-charge consultation to understand your vision and needs. Ideally, you come to this meeting with a budget in mind; if you don’t know your budget, don’t feel bad. About half of our clients come into the first meeting saying, “I have no idea what this type of thing is supposed to cost.” We’ll help you understand what’s possible at various price points.
  2. Site analysis: Our team conducts a thorough site analysis to review your lot’s suitability for construction and determine the footprint size (i.e. perimeter of the home) the lot can accommodate.
  3. Custom home plan: We create a draft home plan, designed from the ground up to suit your preferences and budget. There are no templates or pre-set floor plans—we’re designing a unique home for you.
  4. Fixed-price contract: We offer a fixed-price contract, meaning the price is set, and you won’t experience additional costs along the way. If the initial scope exceeds your budget, we work with you to bring the design into reach—that may mean we decide to remove your home gym space or cut the custom windows, for example. There are a lot of options, which is another benefit of working with a design + build firm.
  5. Construction and Financing: We refer you to preferred lenders, title attorneys, and closing offices, ensuring a smooth transition from construction loans to fixed-rate mortgages.

Working with or without a Realtor

Whether you choose to work with a Realtor or directly with our team, you’re not at a disadvantage. Experienced, well-established Realtors who have previous experience with custom builds bring valuable experience and connections; our team is equally equipped to provide all the guidance and support you need. Our relationship with you is direct, ensuring clear communication and a personalized experience.

It’s worth noting that every Realtor has a specialty; not all have prior experience with custom homebuilding. There are many differences and intricacies that are important to understand—even compared to building with a production builder that offers set model options. Understanding the costs, timelines, and intricacies of building a custom home helps Realtors better serve their clients and make informed recommendations. If you’re exploring the option to build a custom home and wish to work with a Realtor, find one who’s represented other clients through the process.

A seamless custom home-building experience

Do you need a Realtor to build a custom home? The answer isn’t black and white. 

If you are…

  • Just starting to explore the possibility of working with a design + build firm,
  • Don’t own land, or
  • Aren’t sure about the process and don’t know where to start,

then consider partnering with an experienced Realtor who has guided other clients through custom home builds. 

If you have…

  • Already identified the builder you wish to work with,
  • Own a lot, or are close to purchasing land, and
  • Are ready to roll with design,

then you’re unlikely to need the assistance of an independent Realtor.

Either way, we pride ourselves on providing a comprehensive, concierge-style service from start to finish. Whether you have a Realtor or not, we ensure that your custom home-building experience is seamless, transparent, and tailored to your needs.
If you’re ready to start building your dream home, contact us today to schedule a consultation, and let’s bring your vision to life.

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