Tips for touring model homes

Tips for touring model homes

If the homeowners have done their job, a home for sale has been cleaned up, gussied 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 housing 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 a buyer’s emotions.

If you plan on spending a weekend touring model homes, it’s a good idea to go into the process with as much information as possible. Let’s take a look at some of what you should think about before taking those tours.

What to Bring with You

The most important “thing” to bring with you when you tour new home communities is your real estate agent.

This may seem counterintuitive when you get there and realize that the builder or developer has an on-site real estate agent. Wouldn’t it be more convenient to use that agent?

Are you looking for convenience or assurance?

Although the builder’s agent may be a very nice person and although it may be perfectly legal for her to work with you and the builder in what is known as a “dual agency” situation, you are taking unnecessary chances by teaming up with the agent.

The builder’s agent has a duty to look out for the best interests of the client and that 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, bring your own real estate agent.

At the very least, let it be know that you have an agent and have no intention of working with the builder’s.

Next, bring that wish list with you. Lists of any type help keep us focused on what’s truly important – what we really need and want – and avoid impulse shopping.

You’ll need a camera or your smartphone as well. Having photos of the various features will help you compare homes.

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.

If you’re shopping alone, bring along a friend or family member for a second opinion and to bounce ideas off of.

Get the lay of the land

Location is everything when it comes to real estate so get to know the community before looking at the 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. 

Don’t fall for the staging

So often we see homebuyers lured into buying a new home simply because of the way it’s presented. Try to look beyond the snazzy décor and yummy paint colors to the flow of the floorplan.

Remember: Staging is meant to target your emotions

Try to imagine the same home with your furnishings, appliances and accessories. In fact, if you’ve fallen head-over-heels for a home, ask to see the same model, unfurnished.

After all, this is what the home will look like when you purchase it

If your heart is set on the home looking identical to the model, request a breakdown of the upgrades used in the model and the cost to replicate them.

Don’t be shy when it comes to asking questions. If your agent isn’t accompanying you on the tour, ask the on-site agent.

Find out about home warranties that are included with the purchase, the cost of upgrades that interest you, the type of financing offered, community amenities, the building process and whatever other questions come to mind.

The new-home buying process differs from buying an existing home. We’re happy to walk you through the process so feel free to reach out.

What to ignore during your search for the perfect condo

What to ignore during your search for the perfect condo

Condos can be the ideal purchase for homebuyers who are on tight budgets. They’re typically lower priced than single-family homes, insurance is less expensive and ongoing home maintenance costs are kept to a minimum.

There are some aspects of condo-buying that should never be ignored, however. These include:

  • The periodic association fee and how much it will add to your monthly house payment.
  • The homeowner association packet of documents for the homebuyer (it includes vital information).
  • Communities with a large number of homes for sale. Do the research required to find out why so many residents are leaving.

When touring condos for sale, however, some things are better left ignored.

Try to look beyond the cosmetics

Cosmetic issues are easily remedied and typically inexpensive to fix. Ignore the following while looking at condos for sale:

Wall color

Paint colors are personal and what turns on one person may be repulsive to another. Because condos are typically smaller than single-family homes, distasteful wall colors can overtake entire rooms.

Not only that, but the wrong color can make a room appear smaller than it is. Don’t take the paint’s word for it – measure rooms to get the true size.

Then, remember that walls can be transformed relatively inexpensively.

The average square footage of a U.S. condo is 1,482 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The nationwide average cost to paint a home this size, without hiring a professional, is between $200 and $300 for basic paint and $400 to $600 for high-quality paint.

Hire a pro to do it for you for about $1,100 to $2,000, according to costhelper.com.

Ignore the walls – it’s an easy, inexpensive fix.

Dark and gloomy is also an easy fix

Even with all our years of viewing homes, it remains a mystery to us how some people can live in dark, gloomy homes. Even a lack of natural light shouldn’t prohibit someone from introducing artificial light sources to the home, especially when it’s a fact that light helps lift our moods.

Don’t let the gloom stop you from putting in an offer on a condo that offers most everything else you are seeking in a home. Lighting is inexpensive and, the right fixtures can transform your home.

Check out the room-by-room lighting guide at Huffington Post and ways to enhance your decorating scheme with lighting at bhg.com.

The personal stuff will be gone

We get it. All that dated furniture, the collections of books, knick-knacks or other items, family photos and other personal items and clutter are distracting.

And, although it may be challenging, it’s important to remember that it will all be gone when you move in. Look beyond the clutter to the basic flow of each room — the “bones” of the home.

The flip side is just as dangerous

While ugly interiors can be distracting, so can gorgeous ones. Stagers are skilled at making homes appear move-in ready and at creating interiors that appeal to a broad range of homebuyers.

Don’t buy into the fantasy

Those Imperial silk draperies will most likely go home with the stager when the home is sold. Ditto for all the accessories that go into the psychological appeal of the room, the throw pillows, fresh flowers and plants and mirrors and artwork.

Staged rooms also may not be as large as you think they are. Some stagers use smaller-scale furniture to trick the eye into making a room appear bigger. Paint colors are likewise chosen to make homes seem roomier.

If in doubt as to whether or not your furniture will fit in the home, measure each room.

The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) cautions homebuyers that stagers often use “furniture and wall hangings to cover up or direct a buyer’s attention away from floor damage or wall damage.”

They also remind homebuyers that staged homes are often perceived as being well-maintained homes. Often, this perception is far from reality.

“Many times, staged homes take advantage of the staging to cover up deferred maintenance issues and improper construction and repair issues,” they say in the 2007 report, “How to Not Get Tricked by Staging, and Potentially Save $5,645 when you Buy your Home.

Ignore the home’s staging and perform your due diligence by looking behind wall hangings and under rugs and furniture.

Whether the condos you tour are diamonds in the rough or staged to perfection, it pays to look beyond the cosmetics to whether the space works for your needs and lifestyle.

3 amazing kitchen designs

In 2015, more than 10 million American households spent nearly $50 billion renovating their kitchens, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Organization.

Since the kitchen is the most-used room in the home, and the most popular among homebuyers, it’s money well-invested

If you plan on joining the renovators it’s time to learn about various kitchen design concepts so that you’re better able to choose the one that fits your lifestyle. You can never over-plan your new kitchen, right?

From color schemes to layouts, windows to lighting, here are some brilliant kitchen concepts from top designers.

The contemporary kitchen

If you fancy yourself on the cutting edge of technology and love new gadgets you may just be the type that will enjoy a contemporary kitchen.

Think “sleek” when choosing appliances and anything you can have built-in, by all means do so, even the coffee maker.

Speaking of appliances, a “smart” refrigerator is right up your alley

Forget about granite and even quartz for the countertops and head straight for concrete.

Look for patterned backsplashes (such as glass tile) and don’t forget under — and inside — cabinet lighting.

HGTV suggests the best places to shop for contemporary kitchen items include West Elm, Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn. They also offer a style guide for contemporary kitchens on their website.

Go Mediterranean

The Mediterranean kitchen can be summed up in two words: Warm and cozy. Oh, go ahead and throw in “romantic” as well because the iconic rich colors of this style positively drip with amour.

Houzz’s Lisa Frederick suggests using “a blend of spicy red, bright yellow, terra cotta and ocean blue” as your color scheme. Then, add dark cabinets and upholstery fabrics that connotes the sun and sea.

Top it all off with ceramics anywhere you can put them, from accessories to backsplashes.

For ideas on how to create a Mediterranean kitchen in your home, visit Decoist and Houzz. The latter also offers an accessory buying guide for your Med kitchen.

The cottage kitchen

Although cottage-style design may seem more suited to a vintage home, such as a bungalow, if done right it can be quite attractive even in a newly constructed home.

As you approach the design, think homey, cozy, utilitarian and down-to-earth.

Color schemes are typically heavy on the white, but “pretty painted base cabinets in pastel blue make a room shine bright,” according to Kathy Barnes at Better Homes & Gardens.

Speaking of cabinets, you can also forget the traditional and opt for attractive, vintage-looking shelves instead. Then, throw in a farmhouse sink, hardwood floors and pendant lights.

See examples of cottage kitchens at Southern LivingThis Old House and Better Homes and Gardens.