It’s the most popular house on the block — dozens of people visit it each week and it’s finally up for sale: it’s the community’s model home.
In some cases, a model home can be sold at a lower price, but with more added features.
“Model homes are professionally decorated and often feature designer upgrades that are unavailable in the production homes,” says Anissa Willis, vice president of sales at Miller & Smith, a homebuilder based in McLean, Va. “While additional trim options, decorative paint or wallpaper, designer lighting, additional media and data outlets and enhanced exterior landscaping are huge draws for buyers, the cost of these features are heavily discounted (by up to 80 percent in most instances) when the models are sold to the end purchaser.”
Kim Ambrose, vice president of marketing for Miller & Smith, adds that most builders provide at least an additional year of warranty on the home once it’s sold and closed.
Sharon Voss, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, agreed with Willis and Ambrose.
“A major selling point regarding a model home is that it likely already has all the bells and whistles in place: upgrades galore, high-end interior finishes, a dreamy pool and lush landscaping,” she says.
But does the homebuyer really get to keep all those bells and whistles? What about the furnishings and design elements? That all depends on the builder.
“Typically the window coverings, area rugs, specific artwork and certain pieces of furniture that were built in will convey with the model home,” says Ambrose. “Be sure to request a list of conveyed items and work with your sales associate during the sales process to ensure clarity with the homebuyer.”
She also says that if the homebuyer sees something inside the model home that they fall in love with, such as a lovely leather couch, then a purchase request can usually be negotiated.
Staying On Trend
“While extra amenities are included in the purchase of a model home, they typically do not come standard with that special, brand-new, fresh feeling of a newly minted home,” says Willis. “Model home décor tends to play heavily on themes or stylistic trends, which may not appeal or fit the homebuyer’s taste.”
Thus, a model home just might not be right for certain homebuyers.
“If you’re someone who is looking forward to making top-to-bottom choices that suit your own design aesthetic, a finished model home probably isn’t for you,” says Voss. “In addition, model homes are usually located near the entrance of a community, rather than in a quiet spot at the back of the development.”
And because model homes typically have that normal wear and tear from a couple years’ worth of daily tours, Ambrose suggests getting a few things checked out before clients purchase the home.
“Be sure to request a detailed list of all electrical plans used when building and designing the model home, as well as verifying those outlets are functional before closing,” she says. “In addition to outlets and wiring, it is important to test the functionality of the exterior plumbing and irrigation systems.”
A model home may be the perfect fit for your client, so don’t neglect this option. Communicate with both clients and builders daily to ensure that everyone is on the same page and to help ensure that the model home you sell is the right match for your client.