How to make the most of visits to display homes

If you’re looking to buy a house-and-land package, inspecting display homes is an exciting next step. Homebuyers Centre general manager Simon Mongan shares his top tips on how to prepare so you get the most out of your visit.

Know your budget
It is important to know how much you can afford to spend. Be really clear about your budget before you start, know what your repayments will be and make sure you’re comfortable with that before you go shopping for a house. Not all banks are created equal and not all brokers are created equal – someone who specialises in construction finance is usually the best option because there’s a lot of moving parts with a block of land to buy and a building contract to consider. Deal with someone who does it daily.

Research your builders
Choose your builder before you choose your home. Tap into online forums, friends and family. Everyone knows someone who has built before. The types of things you’re looking for: years in the business, build quality, range, customer service, warranties and guarantees. For example, Homebuyers Centre provides a 25-year structural guarantee and 12-month service warranty.

Determine your needs
Draw up a checklist of what you need and want in your home, now and in the future, as that will make choosing the right design easier. How long do you expect to live in this house? What lifestyle changes do you anticipate happening in that time? Will you have kids or an elderly relative moving in? It may be whether a single-storey layout will suit your family or if a double-storey design is more to your liking. Or integrating a second main bedroom, complete with en suite, if you frequently have visitors. There are many different factors to consider before visiting a display home that can save you time and effort. 

Bring the basics
Be sure to note the name of the designs you like, as well as the builder’s details. Also, take plenty of photos on your phone to reference at a later time. Information is power when you’re making such an important decision. Most of all, remember that all good things take time, so don’t rush it.

Ask questions
Display homes are builders presenting their best work and the highlights of what they can offer, so chances are you’re looking at upgrades and extras. You should not assume what you see on display is what’s included. So be sure to ask. The sales consultant is your one-stop shop for information. They should outline what comes standard with your home and what extras have been added. This will ensure any decision you make is within your budget and properly informed.

Keep your budget front of mind
Be careful about being swept away with the emotional attachment of a display home. They look great and it’s easy to start getting excited and adding upgrades, but remember your budget and err on the side of caution when choosing your upgrades. Having said that, display homes are also a great way to show you what’s possible and inspire ideas. They are a good reminder that you can modify, customise, extend and upgrade to really create your dream home, if your budget allows.

Get to know the overall feel
Display homes offer a chance to actually walk through the space, so you can touch, see and imagine what it would really be like to live in each design.

Use the resources available
Display homes are one way to experience the design, but volume builders offer other options. Some have interactive online tools to make design alterations. Others have colour selection centres to assist with interior choices. Research everything and anything if you have the chance. The more you know, the more informed your decisions will be.

Know the best time of the week to visit
If you have the luxury of choice, the best time to visit a display home is during the week when it is quieter and sales consultants can give you more of their time to answer your questions. Once you’re at the next stage and ready to get a full quote on your home of choice, make time for a one-on-one appointment with a sales consultant.

Enjoy the process
Buying and building your first home is a big achievement and should be exciting. If you choose your builder wisely and enjoy the ride, it can be a lot of fun. It can be daunting, a bit scary at first, but if you saddle up with the right builder it can be an exciting ride.

Watch this space!

We'll be revealing the details of our next competition soon