How to Narrow Down Your Model Home Search

Touring model homes should be a fun and enjoyable experience. Now is your time to find everything you love, and don’t love about neighborhoods and floor plans. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you start your model home tour.

Identify Locations

Each year, our cities become bigger and bigger. As we expand, new subdivisions pop up. It’s important to pay attention to the location. It might be obvious to look for homes near your work, but if you have children, or are planning on having them in the next few years, it’s important to look at the school district. Not only that, but are you close to shops? Busy streets? What are the neighbors like? This subdivision might be newly built, but what about the surrounding subdivisions? A good idea is to check the crime stats for the surrounding area to get a sense of where you might be possibly calling “home.”

Identify Home Styles

Are you open to most styles? Do you want a two story, or is bungalow more your style? Do you want something classic, or more modern? Do you want siding or do you want stucco? Identify the styles you like, but more importantly identify the styles you don’t like, so you can immediately remove those plans and neighborhoods from your search.

Know Your Budget

This should be a starting point in the process. Knowing what you want to spend will allow you to narrow down your locations as well as your home styles. Knowing what your budget is can help keep you in check as you tour model homes, and know what kind of upgrades you can afford. Talk with a mortgage lender before visiting a builder so you know not only how much you want to spend, but what you can afford.

Needs vs Wants

Off the top of your head your “wants” list is probably much longer than your “needs” list. You’re probably thinking, well I need a house with a certain number of bedrooms, some storage, and a fenced in backyard, but I WANT wood floors, and granite, and crown molding, and a kitchen island, and an alarm system, and all smart appliances, and, and, and!

But take the time to sit down and really think of your needs. Sure, storage is a good item to list, but be specific about how much storage you need. You might end up underselling how much stuff you have to store out of sight. Your wants and needs list might end up having a conflicting item. Really take the time to focus on what you need, and then after that have some fun and write down everything you want. Maybe even take the extra time to write it down in order of importance so when you start seriously shopping, you’ll be able to prioritize. Then, when you are touring model homes you can really focus on those needs and the top priority wants.

Tips for Touring Model Homes

Ignore Decorations

Model homes have been staged and decorated in order to make you feel something. They want you to walk in and think, “I want this exact house with everything in here from top to bottom.” But try to remember, you aren’t there to shop for decorations and couches. Look at the bones of the house. Pay attention to the layout. You might have enjoyed something on paper, but looking at the set up in person, you might realize it isn’t going to work for your needs. Take this time to ask questions. Ask what is standard and what is an upgrade. Bring a notepad with you and make notes, or even take pictures with your phone to reference later.

Examine Craftsmanship

Remember, you’re not there to look at the decor. Look at how the home has been built. Does it appear to be quality? Are the floors level? What about the cabinets and cupboards? Do they appear to hang straight and flush? Do the finishes appear to be quality? Or did they skimp on materials? A lot of model homes are decorated, ask if there is an undecorated version of the floor plan that you are able to view, one that they didn’t specifically design to enhance the viewing experience.

Pictures, Handouts, and Notes

Ask if you are able to take photos of the model home you are viewing. This will allow you to go through later, after the excitement has calmed down, and really review everything in the house. This will also allow you to go back and view where your furniture would go in the house and allow you to see if it works for your life. Handouts will also give you lists of standard features so at the end of your touring you can compare the different models. Touring homes can be exciting and overwhelming, so make sure to take down as much information as you can so you don’t forget or confuse the model homes when you are thinking back on them later.

Ask, Ask, Ask

This is the time to ask any and all questions that pop into your head. Later on you might forget certain questions or you might not have immediate access to the information. Perhaps the answer to a question makes this particular neighborhood or layout irrelevant. This can help you from wasting time finishing the tour or getting your hopes up about a specific home. Remember, a home is the biggest investment you can make, so don’t hesitate to ask whatever questions come to mind. Find out what comes standard and what doesn’t, or any restrictions that might be placed on the neighborhood.

Limit Your Visits

Remember cramming for a test? You would remember all the information and then as soon as you walked out of the classroom, POOF, it was gone! Don’t try to cram too many model homes into one day. When you get home and think back on them, some of the designs and features might start to blur together. Limit yourself to only a few homes per day and space out your viewing days. This will allow you to narrow down your list in pieces, giving you a clearer understanding of what you are interested in.


A lot of model homes will not have neighboring homes built out, but if you tour ones that do, take a look at the privacy you would get from the home. Are you higher up than other neighbors, or do you look directly into their windows? Would a privacy fence work for your backyard to give you some peace, or would your neighbors still be able to see your every action? Focusing on the privacy you would like and would require, gives you a good idea of what lot you would like to purchase in the neighborhood.

Enjoy the Ride!

We know it’s a big investment, but it should still be fun. You’ve chosen to build your dream home! Don’t let it overwhelm or stress you out, especially during the touring stage. You might find five houses that you absolutely love, don’t let the choices bring down that excitement. Or you might have toured ten homes and didn’t love any of them, that’s fine! Remember, this is an important decision, so you should take your time, and enjoy the process.

Get Expert Advice

It can be overwhelming, and the choices might cause you a bit of decision paralysis. That’s when you look to your real estate agent for guidance and support. Here at Springboard, we love helping individuals and families find their perfect home, and we do everything in our power to make it the most transparent and enjoyable process possible. Give us a call today and learn how we can help you tour model homes and guide you through the home building process.