How to Get the Most from Visiting Model Homes

By Patricia L Garcia


Ready to visit model homes? Two new homes in The Highlands community by Ryan Homes in Chesterfield, Virginia, are a few choices homebuyers have when shopping for a new home.

Photo: Ryan Homes

Model homes are designed to create emotion. They are meant to inspire homebuyers to realize their dream home. So, here’s how you can get the most out of your model home visit.

First Things First

Seth Stisher of ERA Wilder Realty in Charleston, S.C., reminds us that a model home is exactly that: a model home. “Look at the actual space,” he said. “Try to imagine your furniture in the space available. Take measurements to see if your furniture will fit into the home.”

It’s also important to take notes along the way, so you can remember details from model to model. Bring a notebook or use your laptop, smartphone or tablet to take notes and pictures along the way. As you enter each model, take pictures of the sign out front to help you remember which features were in each model.

Follow the PERF Model

Real estate agent Steven Robertson of RE/MAX Alliance in Westminster, Colorado, uses the acronym PERF (practical, efficient, realistic, functional) to help buyers choose new homes. Ask yourself these questions as you tour model homes to ensure you’re finding the right home for your needs:

  • Is the home practical for your family?
  • Does it efficiently fit your personal belongings and space needs?
  • Will it realistically be somewhere you can see yourself for a long time, with room to grow with your family?
  • Will it be functional for your location needs, with easy access to work and school?

Don’t Forget Your Budget

It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of professionally furnished and designed homes. R. Wayne Lopez, of Real Estate Sales Integration in Boston, Massachusetts, suggests that when touring a model home, you should prioritize those finishes that are high on your wish list.

“You should envision your unique lifestyle as it relates specifically to the model home and the features it showcases,” he said. “By identifying in advance your needs and wants, you can ensure your tour will result in the best choices for you.”

If possible, tour a fully outfitted model home, as well as an empty home in the same community with standard finishes. Comparing the two will help you decide on finishes.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Because you’ll be spending lots of time in your new home, you’ll want to make an informed decision. Large and small questions apply: How does the home handle noise? Can you hear it from room to room? Are there energy-saving features? Is there sufficient closet and storage space?

If certain options don’t appear in the model home, that doesn’t mean they aren’t available. Stisher counsels buyers to “ask questions about what options may be available in your potential new home. You can even use options as a bargaining tool. Ask the builder, developer or seller to throw in some extras or make some simple layout changes to make the home more functional and appropriate for your lifestyle and desires.”

Visiting model homes is fun and inspiring, but it’s important to keep your budget in mind and create a wish list. By asking questions during your model home visit and by prioritizing must-have features, you’ll be able to build the home of your dreams.


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Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for, the Associated Press, New Mexico magazine and the Texas Bar Journal. When not writing, she can be found in the garden, battling weeds and high-desert heat.

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