8 ways to cultivate connections with builders and developers

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In real estate, strong relationships are the cornerstone of success, and this is especially true in the new construction market. Building solid connections with builders and developers opens doors to exclusive opportunities and ensures a steady stream of business and satisfied clients. In this article, we’ll explore the art of cultivating these relationships, offering practical strategies to elevate your career within this niche.

1. Network with purpose

Successful networking with builders and developers begins with a purposeful approach. Attend local real estate and construction-related events, join industry associations, and seek out builder-focused seminars or workshops. By immersing yourself in their world, you’ll gain valuable insights and establish a presence in the builder community.

At one of the very first sustainable building conferences we attended, we met several developers and contractors who specialized in sustainable building practices. When we listed a net-zero new development (a first of its kind in the city), we invited these same developers and contractors we met to visit the project.

It allowed them to see us as knowledgeable in this specific kind of new construction. After that, we were able to line up some meetings with these developers for similar projects they had on the way. 

Key takeaway: Make a commitment to attend one builder-focused event per quarter to expand your network and stay informed about local construction trends.

2. Showcase your expertise

Builders and developers are more likely to collaborate with real estate agents who demonstrate expertise in new construction. Invest in education related to this field, such as taking courses, watching YouTube videos or reading about construction processes, building codes, and architectural design. This knowledge not only builds trust but also equips you to provide informed guidance to clients.

In many cases, clients who get into a contract on a new construction are handed off to the builder who may insist on taking over the transaction. It’s important to remember that you were hired to advocate for your client, from beginning to end. 

We check in regularly during the process to provide our clients with realistic expectations, accurate updates and to address any concerns along the way — because we all know something almost always comes up. The more you know about the new construction process, building codes and design, the better equipped you’ll be to handle these situations and build your client’s confidence in you. Consequently, the builders will remember you.

Key takeaway: Dedicate time to ongoing education in new construction, whether through courses, workshops, or online resources, to continuously enhance your expertise.

3. Respect the process

Understanding the intricacies of the construction process is invaluable. Be mindful of builders’ timelines and constraints. Familiarize yourself with construction phases and potential challenges, so you can proactively address issues and keep projects on track.

Because we’re so involved in the transaction with builders, they’re able to see how well we can manage expectations with our clients with how well we understand their process. There was an occasion when a developer unfortunately had multiple building delays on our buyer’s home; however, they appreciated how well we communicated and managed the situation with our clients.

This made such an impression on the builder that they recommended us to another buyer who needed to sell their home before buying at this new development. The builder trusted us and our knowledge of their process to help manage the simultaneous timelines.

Key takeaway: Create a timeline reference sheet for common construction phases in your area to help you better manage expectations and communicate effectively with clients and builders.

4. Timely communication

In the dynamic world of new construction, communication is key. Respond promptly to builder inquiries, even if it’s just to acknowledge receipt and provide an estimated timeframe for a detailed response. This demonstrates professionalism and respect for their time.

Key takeaway: Set a goal to respond to builder inquiries within 24 hours to establish a reputation for reliability.

5. Building win-win relationships

Fostering mutually beneficial connections is a fundamental pillar of success in the real estate industry. Consider the needs and goals of builders and developers. How can you add value to their projects?

  • Market insights: Share local market trends, data and insights that could help the builder make informed decisions about their projects. 
  • Referrals: Connect the builder with other professionals like reliable contractors, architects, or interior designers who can contribute to their projects.
  • Promotion: Promote the builder’s projects through your network, website, or social media channels, helping to increase their visibility.
  • Client feedback: Provide feedback from potential buyers or clients regarding their preferences and needs, helping the builder tailor their projects accordingly.
  • Collaborative marketing: Suggest collaborative marketing efforts, such as hosting events or open houses together, to attract potential buyers.
  • Community involvement: Engage with the builder in local community events or charitable activities, which can strengthen your personal connection.

Key takeaway: Approach builders with a mindset of collaboration, seeking opportunities to bring value to their projects beyond typical real estate services. This can help build trust and loyalty.

6. Consistency builds trust

Consistency in your interactions with builders is essential for trust-building. Follow through on commitments, meet deadlines, and communicate openly. Reliable agents are more likely to earn the respect and trust of builders.

One of the first developer clients we approached, we emailed and called consistently over a period of six to seven months before we got any reply. In those communications, we explained ways we thought we could help with the launch of their new homes. We sent market updates and data relevant to his particular product and neighborhood, and we committed to regularly providing this information.

We did what we said we would, even when we didn’t hear back for months. When we finally met, he said it was because we were so persistent and never wavered from what we said we were going to do. He knew he could rely on us.

Key takeaway: Establish a routine for following up on builder interactions and ensure that you consistently deliver on your promises.

7. Attend open houses and model home tours

Show your commitment to builders’ projects by attending open houses and model home tours. This not only allows you to stay informed about available properties but also demonstrates your support for their work. 

My husband and I make it a point to not only visit models and meet the salespeople but also check in periodically to see how sales are going or what current offers are available. When new construction salespeople know who you are, they’re more likely to contact you first when an opportunity arises.

Getting a heads-up ahead of the general public puts you at an advantage for your buyers. This is how we were able to put a buyer in contract before a specific new home was even released. 

Key takeaway: Make it a habit to attend open houses and model home tours regularly to stay updated on local new construction inventory, keep you top of mind and establish your commitment.

8. Express gratitude

Never underestimate the power of gratitude. Send thank-you notes or small tokens of appreciation after successful collaborations. This simple gesture can go a long way in building lasting relationships.

My husband and I never miss an opportunity to express our gratitude to our developer clients in meaningful ways. One of the developers we worked with loves classic VW vans. On a trip, we saw a mini vintage replica and gave it to him to thank him for his trust and support over the years. To this day, he’s still one of our most loyal clients (selling both his projects and personal homes) and the gift has a permanent place on his desk.

Key takeaway: Set a goal to express gratitude to builders and developers after each successful project or collaboration to reinforce your appreciation for their partnership or future partnership.

Through intentional networking, highlighting expertise, adept communication, and a dedicated approach to collaboration, real estate agents can nurture mutually advantageous partnerships that unlock access to more opportunities for your business, especially in the low inventory market of today.

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