New-build homes Viewing a show home

show home

Make sure you thoroughly research the development before visiting the show home

There's a lot of psychology involved in show homes, with developers using clever design tricks to present properties in the best possible light - literally. We explain what to pay attention to and what to ignore when viewing a new-build show home, so you can work out with a clear head whether it's really right for you.

A show home is an example property on a new-build development, designed and decorated to entice buyers. It'll often double up as a marketing suite, from where other homes on the development will be sold.

If you're considering buying a new home off-plan, the show home can play a key role in helping you visualise what you'll be purchasing.

Developers know this, and they'll happily use the tricks of the trade to lure you in. With careful research and a level-headed mindset, however, it's possible to see past the high-end fittings and clever lighting and work out whether it really is your ideal home.

  • For expert, unbiased advice on getting a mortgage for a new-build property, call Which? Mortgage Advisers on 0808 252 7987

Viewing show homes: what research should I do first?

It's important to fully research the development in advance and to think carefully about what you want from your new home.

The show home is only a snapshot of the development. You'll need to think about the location, access and local amenities, and look into the developer's track record. Research whether the developer has built any other homes nearby, and find out if they were built on time and to a reasonable standard.

Start by preparing a list of what you're looking for. For example, how many bedrooms do you require, is a garden top of your wish list, is car parking something you're not prepared to compromise on?

If possible, invite a friend or family member to visit the development with you. Somebody who's not involved in the process might notice things you overlook, and getting a second opinion is never a bad thing.

Find out more: new-build homes - learn about the pros and cons of buying a brand-new home

What should I look for when I visit a show home?

If you're considering buying a property that hasn't been built yet (off-plan), you need to find out how it will differ from the show home.

Try not to think too much about how the show home is decorated and kitted out. If all you remember after viewing a show home is the designer sofa and stylish light fittings, then you've been distracted. Look closely at the home itself: is it well-built, is the layout logical, and could you imagine living in this sort of property?

Walk around the building site and try to visualise how the development will look once completed. If it's still in the very early stages, consider whether the site looks well-run and tidy - this will give an indication of how professionally the project is being managed.

Show homes: tricks of the trade

When viewing a show home, keeping an eye out for optical illusions might not be top of your list - but it should be. Bear the following in mind:

  • Remember that show homes are dressed by expert interior designers who are trained in optimising space - in other words, the home might look much bigger than it actually is. Living rooms often have small furniture, bedrooms might only contain a bed and bedside table, and glass furniture, mirrors and constant lighting might be used to create an illusion of natural light.
  • Some features in a show home might not be included in the standard specification. Boiling water taps, designer worktops and high-end lighting could all add a hefty chunk onto the buying price.
  • Show homes often have the best plot on the development, so there's a chance that the spacious landscaped garden you're shown on your viewing could actually be a turfed postage stamp on the home you end up buying.

Find out more: buying off-plan

Should I buy a show home?

Developers will always sell the show home once they've finished using it for marketing purposes.

The idea of buying a show home divides opinion, but for the right price (and with the right extras thrown in), it could be a smart move. Here are the pros and cons:

Advantages of buying a show home

  • You can fully inspect the finished home before buying it
  • The development will be close to completion, so you won't have to live on a building site for too long
  • Show homes usually have upgraded fixtures and fittings that aren't on the specification for standard homes
  • You could benefit from the best plot, complete with a landscaped garden
  • You might be able to get the furniture thrown in as part of the deal

Disadvantages of buying a show home

  • You could be overpaying for premium fixtures and fittings, and you won't be able to personalise these
  • A show home is likely to have experienced plenty of wear and tear by the time it's sold, so will require a comprehensive snagging survey
  • Items in show homes sometimes get taken away and used in other homes on the development - so what you see on your viewing may not be what you get when you move in
  • You won't be able to benefit from on-site aftercare
  • Appliances will be used rather than new, and their warranties might have expired
  • The show home is often located next to the marketing suite car park, which developers will sometimes build a house on at the end of the project, so you could face disruption after moving in

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Last updated:

February 2016

Updated by:

Stephen Maunder

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