Model Homes

Larger builders know how to set that hook using the model home as bait. Most model homes employ a steering technique that was perfected on farms to guide livestock into pens (that’s how it feels anyway). If you have been to a few model homes, you know what I mean. Most builders convert the garage of the model home into a sales center and make you walk through that sales center to gain access to the home instead of going through the front door. It is in that sales center where you will most likely be introduced to the salesperson for the community or one of their assistants.

Model homes are decorated in a way that demonstrates the benefits of the floor plan but mask the home’s imperfections. The model home will generally display every option available in the home, but in so doing confuses the potential buyer as to the real cost of the home. To confuse things further, some builders use high-end “designer options” unique to the model home that are not even offered by the builder on a standard production home. In most cases, home buyers do not “deck out” their home to the extent that home builders do in their model home. The price of a “loaded” model home is not only too high for many customers, but impractical. As a rule, it is never a good idea to have the most expensive home in the neighborhood, as the models tend to be. If the builder displayed the home with the options that most people really purchase, the home would seem common or boring and would not be as enticing to the customer.

Most people know when they go through a model home that the furniture, the whole-house audio system, and even the fake fruit are not included in the price of the home. However, if you walk into the kitchen and see an eating area, you would expect that to be included in the price. But you may be wrong. Have that information before you walk into the model home, and don’t forget to consider the outside of the model home. If the builder offers optional elevations (exterior designs), they may be on display with the model home. The home might be upgraded with brick, stone, or stucco when the standard is only vinyl. Your assumption that even simple things (like gutters) are included may be wrong. Do the research and know what you are actually buying.

The trap many people fall into is that they fall in love with the model that “starts in the low $200’s” but is shown with all the upgrades and goodies that would cost $300,000 to duplicate (even without the fake fruit). As the price begins to inch upwards, people get emotional and begin justifying or selling themselves on their ability to afford that home. This is a bad move.

Flaws masked
A number of tricks used in decorating a model hide some problems with the design of the home or highlight some impractical option. The most common tricks happen in the bedrooms to make them seem larger or more functional.

Decorators will:

use smaller scale furniture
leave out pieces of furniture like dressers or desks
make a bedroom into an office or sitting area, masking the fact that you could never comfortably fit a bed and other furniture in the room!use a whimsical theme such as a jungle look, thus allowing the decorator to, for instance, exchange a hammock for a bed
Some builders remove the interior doors in the model to make the rooms flow together and give the illusion of larger space. This also masks design flaws, such as a situation in which one door has to be closed before another door can be opened.

If you would like to learn more information about the model home buying process, we suggest you take a closer look at the book Home Building Pitfalls, which is where this information has been excerpted.