Pros and Cons of Buying a Model Home
You've just taken the tour of the builder's deluxe model home,
and the sales agent is beckoning you into his car to go look at
some prime lots. That's when you pop the question: "How about
selling me this house?" Although it might seem farfetched,
buying a model or display home might be a really good deal for
smart buyers, if the conditions are right. But don't judge a
book by its cover when it comes to model homes, warns Lew
Sichelman of The Journal Newspapers.
On the upside, the builder usually goes all-out to make the model
home a showpiece, decked out with high-end furnishings and
equipped with lots of extras. The home itself is typically
constructed from a larger floor plan, making for a big, luxurious
unit designed to bowl you over. All those features usually drive
the cost too high for most buyers. Then there's heating or
cooling bills and other costs the builder paid to keep the unit
open for tours.
But the builder's position may be somewhat different than with
the typical luxury home. Extra costs associated with the model
home are written off as marketing expenses. And if the
development is almost sold out and the market conditions are
slow, the builder may be ready to bargain. Under those
conditions, things like custom built-ins or higher quality
carpeting and fabrics might be priced at cost.
Nevertheless, you need to consider the unique drawbacks of a
model home along with the advantages. The cardinal rule "Buyer
Beware" applies more than ever. First of all, beware of
construction flaws if the builder is testing out a particular
plan for the first time. In some cases, they might be learning
by their mistakes. Sometimes it's a rush job if the model needs
to be built pronto to start the sales process. With the priority
on speed rather than quality, you might end up with cabinet doors
that don't close, or inferior cabinet hardware, for example.
These defects are frequently overlooked during a home tour.
It's wise to take a closer look. Remember, you're actually
buying a "slightly used" house. Depending on how long the
housing development takes to sell out, a model home can remain
open for years--seven days a week--with the heating and cooling
systems running and people traipsing through on the carpet. Make
a list of things that need correction or repair. Find out if the
model is selling "as is," or if the builder is willing to address
those items. Everything is negotiable. They might agree to
repainting the walls, and cleaning or even replacing the carpet.
Finally, make sure all warranties on workmanship and structural
defects are effective from the PURCHASE date, not construction
date. And check out when the warranties on the appliances