However, while these homes are designed to appeal to the part of you that appreciates the finer things in life, there are some model home problems you should consider before you buy so you have no regrets.
I live in a model home and love it, but there are a few things I’ve noticed that could’ve been better had I paid just a little more attention. I know that no house is perfect but I’ve come up with an acronym that can help you weigh the pros and cons the next time you explore a model home: CLAP – Construction, Location, Amenities and Price.
Because of the pressure put on a model home to attract buyers, it usually features a larger floor plan than the average home and has many upgrades to display the types of features that are possible in the home you decide to buy.
But while the features are obvious, sometimes shortcuts in the construction are not. Is the molding crooked? Does the floor squeak in a particular area? Is the bathtub properly caulked? How’s the drainage system? If you are still not sure on what you should be looking for, it’s important to have a licensed home inspector check out the house before closing.
Another thing to consider about the construction is the actual size of the home and each room in it. Will your current furniture work in the rooms or will you have to purchase new pieces? Our model home came with a high ceiling so our existing chairs seemed dwarfed in comparison to our previous house where they seemed to take over the room! Don’t be fooled, take measurements!
Usually, model homes are built near the entrance of a new development so it’s the first house you see. So, the home’s physical location could be a deal breaker if you are sensitive to noise and activity from the road, cars, etc. If you’re comfortable with daily subdivision traffic, than it’s not a concern, but if it’s an issue, perhaps the model home itself may not be right for you and you can share that with the builder.
If you end up requesting a home be built for you, do you want to be at the end of the street, on a circular drive or right smack in the middle? How will the house be situated? Will the sun scorch your front window all day or will it heat up the backyard instead? These are all things you should be thinking about before signing on the dotted line.
You’ll most likely see high-end features such as granite counter tops, built-in appliances, lush carpet and top-of-the-line window blinds or shades. If you want to buy a model home “as is” with these items included, make sure they are listed and attached to your purchase agreement if you move forward. Otherwise, the builder will remove them and you’ll be left with the added expense of seeking these items on your own.
However, keep in mind the cost of these amenities. Usually the upgrades and extras are considered marketing costs so you should not be paying a mark-up on these items. Do some research and see how much it would cost to do these upgrades on your own before agreeing on a price for specific amenities.
Subcontractors tend to do an extra good job because they know that the complete look is what generates business. Rather than have you walk into an empty kitchen, they have built-in appliances and great lighting to showcase the room’s full potential. While these extras may be itemized in a brochure or hyped up by the staff, these features come at a price and may skew the reality of the type of home you’ll actually be getting if you don’t purchase the model itself. If there are other occupants already in the subdivision, ask if it can be arranged to see the inside of one of those homes as they’ll likely have more realistic features.
If the model home you are interested in has been the model for that development for a few years, the price should reflect the fact that tons of people have walked through it, used the bathrooms, etc. You have room to negotiate on the price because it’s likely that the floor, heating and cooling systems and more have been used frequently even though there is no “occupant.”
In addition, the garage attached to the home might have been made into a sales office so it doesn’t take away from the look of the home’s interior. Confirm that the space they “borrowed” will be converted back into a proper garage at the builder’s expense by outlining it in the contract.
For upgrades that you know will add value to your home over time, spend wisely and negotiate with the builder as you may be able to keep these extras at a reduced price because the home is indeed a model. You could also compare prices with other contractors and services. When we bought our house, we were able to snag the licensed cousin of our builder to install ceiling fans and lay tile on the front porch for a fraction of the price because he did odd jobs on the side. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations!
Remember, model homes are designed to draw you in and make you want to visualize yourself living there. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of moving into the model home or seek different layouts to see what best suits your style. By using the CLAP acronym you’ll be better prepared to make critical observations on your next model home visit.