I am currently working with a great buyer client, helping them sell their home and purchase a new one in the same general area of town. They honed in on a brand-new home very quickly, and the builder accepted their offer with very minor changes, reducing the price a few thousand below what already appeared to be a good deal.
After visiting the design center for the builder today, there were a number of discrepancies between what the salesperson had told us and the reality with regard to the cost of upgrades. In a nutshell, some of the items were a few hundred dollars higher, while other "standard features" were simply subpar for the price point of the home. As a quick example, the wood flooring that we had seen in photos looked pretty good, but the actual wood offered was very dated looking. The buyer remarked that he wouldn't have put it in his current house when they bought it 17 years ago. To bring it close to what they would deem acceptable, it will cost them thousands, despite "downgrading" flooring in some parts of the home.
Other standard items came as a surprise, but I won't bore you here with every detail. Suffice it to say that it was a deflating day for them.
There was also a minor misunderstanding (now rectified) with regard to what the builder's lender was offering by way of incentives. Unfortunately, although it's cleared up, the overall experience left a bad taste with my clients, and they may or may not proceed with this particular home.
So, even though the house is in the right area, with the perfect floorplan (including some extras that they weren't expecting), and at a workable price, the experience today has left them wondering whether to proceed or just keep looking.
My advice was not to make a firm decision today, because they could be kicking themselves later. I told them to talk about it, pray about it, and sleep on things. We'll talk tomorrow, and the answer will probably be much more clear, whichever way they decide to go.
He mentioned that they were worried that they didn't have a "warm fuzzy" feeling and we are just starting the process. He also said that he sensed that the builder isn't very customer service-oriented. Clearly, that is a BIG red flag.
Time will tell with regard to this particular home. I told him that if they had a bad feeling, it's probably worth listening to that gut reaction. I reminded him that I really do just want them to get the right home, even if it means we start looking again. That's the truth. I would never want a client to feel uncomfortable moving forward on a house. That being said, I also told him that they don't want to be kicking themselves later for walking away from what could be the perfect home.
At any rate, the lesson for the builder is clear and threefold:
- Be consistent in your message. If you don't know the exact cost of an upgrade or the quality offered, don't speculate. This can (and usually does) lead to problems later. I would much rather hear, "I don't know how much that costs offhand, but it's not standard" than to experience sticker shock.
- When you're selling homes priced at 50% over the median value for Austin, have better materials onhand in your model home to give people a sense of what is standard.
- This is the single biggest financial decision that most people will ever make. Treat it as such, especially when you have nice, qualified buyers.
Thanks for reading!
Photo credit: Flickr.com via theakshay