Hi there Punk9slvr, well... here is my experience. I'm a buyer and have had dealt with 4 builders last few month.
Builder 1) Sales manager was very kind, and I went there by myself and negotiated a little bit, then went back with buyer's agent. She was fine with it, and with the buyers agent, was able to negotiate a very good deal down plus 10k in closing cost help, but due to issue not related to builder or us, we were unable to close the deal.
Builder 2) Sales Manager was courteous, and was good with contacting us. We went there first time without agent and started negotiating. We went back with buyer's agent and was able to negotiate a good deal with builder paying 10k in closing cost. It was good deal, but builder 1 provided us with better deal, so we went with builder 1, but as mentioned above, deal fell apart... =(
Builder 3) Went there with buyer's agent on first visit. Sales manager absolutely stonewalled us!!! Even with buyers agent she refused to reduce the price by 1 cent!! She threw bunch of bull at us as if we were hitting the market for the first time. Already having dealt with 2 builders who were willing to negotiate, we high-tailed outta there!!!
Builder 4) We went there without buyer's agent. Sales manager was courteous and after several visits, felt comfortable with him enough that we decided not to involve a buyer's agent and was able to negotiate a favorable deal plus closing costs paid by the the builder. We signed contact with them, and now awaiting loan approval!
One thing I can tell you from my experience, it really depends on the sales rep and you should target quick deliveries. We were able to negotiate price that was well below listed price with closing cost help. If builder gives you bull about "Oh, that's price with all the incentives, we can't no any lower" walk away! I think buyer's agent definitely helps, but strangely enough we were able to get a pretty good deal by ourselves... Having just read what Mr. Mansur Hasib wrote, I totally agree with what he said. Stay cool, and be polite!! We were also lucky in that the sales rep representing the builder was very polite and answered all of our questions.