It might not seem necessary to involve a real estate professional in a transaction where a buyer can deal directly with a builder. However, by using a real estate professional, you have someone to protect your interests and guide you along the right path. Here are 10 advantages to using a real estate professional when buying a newly constructed home.

1. Just as a real estate professional calls on experience and knowledge of an area to help buyers locate pre-owned homes in a community, he or she can also direct buyers interested in newly built homes to developments and communities that match client specifications.

2. A sales professional can suggest builders with reputations for delivering a high-quality product, responding quickly to issues and being financially sound.

3. A sales professional may be familiar with how a builder prices his products and where there may be room to negotiate price or upgrades.

4. Without representation, you are one buyer purchasing only one home. But a sales professional can significantly impact a builder's bottom line by providing a steady supply of customers. This leverage may work in your favor at the negotiating table. (Note: The builder may require your sales professional to accompany you on your first visit to the site. Check with the builder.)

5. The lender-approval process may go smoother if a sales professional schedules visits, accompanies you to lenders and helps expedite required documents.

6. What may seem like a simple transaction can grow legally complex and risky. A sales professional is familiar with those complexities and risks inherent in the home-buying process. When such questions arise, we can steer you to the right advisers and services you may require.

7. When relocating to a new area, sales professionals can be particularly valuable resources. In addition to providing local area information regarding schools, day care or elder care services, public transportation, proposed development, and so on, once construction is underway, they can periodically stop by the work site, supply you with progress reports, and photograph or videotape phases of the construction.

8. A sales professional can assist you as you face hundreds of design choices and consider which upgrades could potentially add value to the home when it comes time to sell.

9. A sales professional can accompany you at the site while you OK the plumbing and electrical locations prior to dry walling, as well as on the walk-through or builder orientation.

10. Lastly, most often the builder pays the sales professional's commission. You enjoy individual attention and support at no cost to you.

Linda Skolnick's "Skolnick's Scoop" appears every other Friday. She is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Riverside in Westport and can be reached through her website, www.GoAskLinda.com, or by calling 203-246-0088.