If the homeowners have done their job, a home for sale has been cleaned up and put on display to entice potential buyers to make an offer to purchase. Never is this more evident than in model homes in new construction developments. Carefully staged by interior decorators, every element — from the wall color, to the appliances and every decorative accent — is chosen for its ability to appeal to potential buyers.
Before touring model homes, there are a few things to know!
What to Bring with You
#1 — The most important “thing” to bring with you when touring model homes is your Realtor (me!). This may seem counter-intuitive as the builder or developer has an on-site real estate agent — wouldn’t it just be more convenient to use that agent?
Are you looking for convenience or assurance? Although the builder’s agent may be very informative and friendly, you are taking unnecessary risks by forgoing your own agency representation and defaulting to working with the builder’s agent.
The builder’s agent has a duty to look out for the best interests of their client and their client is the builder. Since it doesn’t cost you a penny to have your own representation, and you stand to gain so much by having someone in your corner who knows the market and ideally works with builders regularly (it me), make sure you bring your own Realtor with you on your first visit to any new home community!
IMPORTANT: builders will deny you agency representation altogether if you are touring model homes without your Realtor on your first visit. An unfortunate fact.
#2 — Bring a priority list with you. Lists of any type help keep us focused on what’s truly important – what we really need and want – and avoid falling in love with a floorpan or a community that doesn’t tick any boxes.
#3 — Bring along a tape measure so that you won’t have to guess at room sizes, the length of walls and the interior of closets.
#4 — If you are buying alone, it may be a good idea to bring a trusted friend or family member for a second opinion and to bounce ideas off of. A second set of eyes from someone who really knows you, and is happy and excited for you, is always welcome.
Get the lay of the land
Location is everything when it comes to real estate so get to know the community before touring model homes. Consider not only its location within the city, but surrounding amenities that you require.
Then, take a walk or drive through the community to get a feel for what it will be like when completed and to get an idea of which lots are better suited for your needs. Keep in mind, the lot characteristics, particularly backyard size, can vary greatly in the model homes when compared to the lots that are actually available for purchase. Your real estate agent should confirm with the builder that they have lots available that will suit your needs when touring model homes.
Don’t fall for the staging
I have seen time and time again home buyers dazzled by the finishes, accent walls, decor, and staging when touring model homes that they don’t even recognize the base floor plan without all the bells and whistles. Try to look beyond the surface level to the flow of the floor plan.
Remember: Staging is meant to target your emotions.
Try to imagine the same home with your furnishings, appliances and accessories. In fact, what we’ll do once you’ve fallen head-over-heels for a home, is to ask to see the same model, unfurnished.
If your heart is set on having your home look nearly identical to the model, we will request a breakdown of the upgrades used in the model and the cost to replicate them. Model homes are typically finished with tens of thousands of dollars in upgrades.
Don’t be shy when it comes to asking questions. Your Realtor (not the builder’s agent) should be your first point of contact.
After touring model homes, we will confirm what home warranties are included with the purchase, the standard included finishes, the cost of any upgrades that might interest you, any lender incentives that may be offered, community amenities, the building timelines and expected delays, the earnest money deposit, timeline for cross-qualification, and whatever other questions or concerns that you can think of!
For more information about the new home process, visit my blog: Buying a New Construction Home. I look forward to helping you through the home-buying process and touring model homes with you!
For more information about the home-buying process, read my Guide to Buying a Home.