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I'm considering buying a "new" home that is currently serving as the builders model home and I'm curious as to whether anyone has any experience, good or bad, with buying a model home. The house was built in 1999 but has never been lived in. Of course, I'm sure hundred if not thousands of people have been through it over the last three years. Is there an advantage or disadvantage in buying a model home? Anything I should look for? Centex Homes is the builder, if that matters. Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this.

Inpho
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I'm considering buying a "new" home that is currently serving as the builders model home and I'm curious as to whether anyone has any experience, good or bad, with buying a model home.

In theory, builders will exercise more care with finish work with houses they intend to use as models. In practice, I've seen some pretty awful finish work in model houses. Look carefully. You really will get what you see.

Make certain you understand what stays with the house and what goes. Upgraded lighting and carpeting probably stays. Furniture probably goes. There's no telling about window treatments and wall-mounted mirrors. If wall-mounted mirrors go, make sure you understand about the wall finish behind the mirror -- often the wall behind the mirror is unfinished.

Model houses probably have more wear and tear than you might expect on flooring, doors, windows, and cabinetry, and they probably have less wear and tear than you would expect on plumbing and appliances. You should plan to replace the higher wear and tear items sooner than you might expect for similar items in a never lived-in house.

Landscaping probably is better than you would expect in model houses compared to stock houses. Infant mortatily among the plants probably will be low. The nursery warranty on plants may have expired.

Some builders convert garage spaces into office spaces in their model houses. Some builders convert bedrooms into specialty rooms -- exercise rooms, dance studios, fancy offices, etc. You may or may not find the conversion desireable, and you may or may not want to negotiate for returning the converted spaces to their original functional spaces.

I still recommend you have a certified house inspector examine the house before you close the deal. The builder probably will scream, and he may even refuse to accept your purchase offer with an inspection contingency, but a house inspection is cheap insurance against unforeseen problems. I think the mininum acceptable qualification for house inspectors is that they are full members of the American Society of Home Inspectors (http://www.ashi.com/)

David Jacobs
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How about interior doors? The models hardly ever have interior doors, the better to accommodate people coming through.
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Inpho:

We are always willing to make concessions for people buying our models (spec homes). If you are willing to lock in early and allow it to be used for a while, you make out better.

Either way, insist that they replace the carpets prior to settlement. You should also make sure that nothing will be removed from the model.

Do they furnish the model? Are you buying the furnishings?

You should also arrange for a final walk through that allows you to ID issues. You may not have any bargaining power at that point, but at least you won't be surprised.

Given the rising prices in our market (southeast PA) don't be surprised if the builder will be willing to walk from your deal (provided they can under the contract) if you present too many issues. The home will probably have increased in value since they signed you up.

Bob

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Thanks for the responses - all very good points and suggestions, especially on what stays with the house and what should be replaced prior to closing. I really appreciate the help...

Inpho
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I just closed on a centex home a couple weeks ago and have been very pleased with the company. I don't really have anything new to add, but make sure they convert the office back to garage etc. and get the new carpeting. Of course still get the house inspected.

Good luck!

John
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>>I'm considering buying a "new" home that is currently serving as the builders model home and I'm curious as to whether anyone has any experience, good or bad, with buying a model home.

>>I still recommend you have a certified house inspector examine the house before you close the deal.


As Davidd points out, this is absolutely essential. This house has not been "lived in" in the sense that some systems may not have had to work properly. An example would be what are they doing to the garage (to make it back into a garage?). All that contruction should be inspected. All of the plumbing may not be in use, washer dryer connections, and other major appliances and connection may never have been used.

I know someone who purchased a model "as is". The driveway as it turns out was not wide enough to allow cars to be driven up into the side load garage. No one knew becasue the garage was an office before, not a garage. And since the diveway is so near the property line, not an east fix.

I would expect contractually to get full warranty (whatever that means in your area) on the house contruction.

Buyer beware, like any ther purchase.
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