How to Tour Model Homes
If you’re looking for a new home, the best experience is to get offline and get into your car to take a tour of one. In this special feature of the Coastal Bend New Homes Guide, you will find model homes waiting for your visit. Keep reading to learn the most important things to know as you go through a model home to make the most of your homebuying experience.
What Is a Model Home?
A model home is a fully constructed and generally fully furnished house that you can tour in person rather than just online. You see—up close and personal—many of the features that the builder offers, and remember that most models can be customized to your individual needs, so don’t assume that what you see is what you will get. A model home tour gives you a real-time experience of what living in the home would feel like.
What Will You Find at a Model Home?
When you arrive at a model home, you may discover that a sales agent and perhaps even the builder will greet you at the door. If so, one of these individuals will be available to answer your questions about the layout and features of the home and to take you through every room on a personal tour to explain the features. As you tour the home, the sales agent will likely explain various options you can select if you choose to have the home built for yourself, such as changes in floor plans, color schemes, appliances, and more. Take advantage of the sales consultant’s knowledge and experience. Go prepared with questions about buying a home.
Here are some more tips on how to use your time wisely while touring model homes:
1) Make a Checklist and Take It with You:
Are there features you require in your future home? For example: maybe natural gas is important to you. Does the community offer natural gas? Perhaps you need four bedrooms or lots of storage space? Make a list of the must-haves and take it with you to compare any homes you tour. In the excitement of seeing a fabulous home, it is easy to forget to ask about important issues.
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2) Determine Your Price Range:
Work with a mortgage counselor before you tour a model home to find out how much you can afford. Many financial institutions offer free loan qualification services, which can be a tremendous help. However, note that the amount you may be qualified for should not be your buying price. Remember to factor in the total cost of the home, which will include other expenses that come with homeownership such as furnishings, utilities, and other miscellaneous expenses. Touring only those houses that fit within your price range will ensure your time is well spent, and you will avoid the disappointment of falling in love with a home you cannot afford.
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3) Ask About Taking Photos:
It would be nice to take photos, but before taking photos or video, it is best to ask permission first since not everyone is open to the idea. It’s a simple courtesy and will be greatly appreciated by your host.
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4) Take Notes:
If you visit several models in one day, you may have trouble remembering which home had what features. Take detailed notes on each home to jog your memory later. Note what you like or don’t like about each home for an easy reference later. Ask the sales consultants for brochures or floorplans, which will be extremely helpful in remembering the model homes you visited and will help you in comparing them later.
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5) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions:
The sales agent is there to help you gather the information you need in order to make the right decision for you and your family. If you have children, ask about the quality of the schools in the district and about their proximity to the neighborhood. Be sure to take advantage of his or her knowledge by asking any questions you may have. You should call them later if there was something you forgot to ask that would be important to know.
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6) Drive Around the Community:
Is the community a place in which you’d enjoy living? Does it have a playground for your kids? Nice landscaping? Are there shopping districts, entertainment centers, and medical facilities close by? Before you leave the neighborhood, drive around to check these items, as well. One thing is to ask about flooding in the area, but a better idea is to actually drive to the neighborhood you want to live in after a heavy rain and see if it was affected.
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And finally, here are some special tips to make sure your new home will be the best and most cost saving in years to come:
7) Ask About the Construction Quality:
As you look at the beautiful granite countertops, the impressive wood flooring, and the fabulous designer lighting fixtures, it’s easy to forget to ask about the most important feature—the quality of the construction, which most people mistakenly confuse with the quality of things you can readily see in the home. Was the home certified as a high-performance home by an independent third-party rater? If so, ask to see the certificate. Be aware that sometimes, a company may create impressive certifications for their homes with programs that are “internally controlled” for marketing value.
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8) Ask About Building Code Compliance:
Ask if the builder is complying with the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) requirements. Every home built in the state of Texas after August 1, 2016, must comply with the new code, which has stricter requirements for energy efficiency and requires testing of the home after completion to verify compliance. Ask to see the results of the blower door and duct leakage tests, which are great predictors of how energy efficient the home will be. Ask to see the Energy Index Rating (ERI). If the person you are talking to doesn’t know what you are asking for, ask to speak with someone who does—or run away.
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9) Learn About High-Performance Home Certifications:
As mentioned above, by law, new homes built in Texas must comply with the 2015 IECC, which is considered the new minimum legal building standard. So, to be clear, all a builder has to do to build a home legally in Texas is to comply with the minimum building code requirements. And that’s okay. But homes built to minimum standards are generally less energy efficient and more costly to maintain. Your best option? Look for a home built to “above-code” standards. These high-performance homes can be found in new home certification programs like BUILT TO SAVE™, ENERGY STAR®, or the best of all, the DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home.
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10) Ask If the Home Is BUILT TO SAVE™ Certified:
A home certified as a BUILT TO SAVE™ home was inspected during construction and tested after completion by an independent RESNET certified home energy rater to verify compliance with the strict energy efficiency requirements of the program. The true quality of the home is behind the walls. What is most important is whether or not the products or materials used were installed correctly. And the best way to know for sure is to have eyes on the work before the walls are put in place—which the BUILT TO SAVE™ program provides—and that’s one huge advantage for you since you will probably never see what is behind the walls after the home is built!
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Buying a new home shouldn’t just be about getting a great deal on the price. It should be more about the home’s comfort, indoor air quality, durability, and a good resale value if you ever need to sell—all part of a BUILT TO SAVE™ certified home.
Visit www.BuiltToSave.org for more information.
Touring model homes and dreaming about your future house should be enjoyable. Be smart, be knowledgeable, and—most of all, make happy memories and have fun!
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