Purchasing a new launch property is a major decision and not one you want to regret making. But buying into new launches involves going to showflats a lot, and showflats are designed to drive sales.
A showflat may be entirely remodelled to improve its appearance, a practice that was so common that our government has put regulations in place to require properties to indicate the location, width, and thickness of non-structural walls that have been removed for aesthetic purposes.
What are the other commonly used visual tricks?
Don’t get caught off guard, here are 10 sneaky showflat tricks that you might have missed on your last viewing.
1. Modified Floor Plan
You move into your new property, and the living room looks a bit smaller than you remembered. And you didn’t think the hallway was so narrow. Was there a closet here before?
You aren’t going crazy. Developers will go to extreme lengths to make their showflats more attractive to prospective buyers.
It’s not uncommon for non-structural walls to be thinned down and even removed completely to create an open floor plan and with it, the illusion of space.
But walls aren’t the only thing that’s been known to go missing. Keep your eyes out for closets, or a lack thereof, and be sure to open them up. While some showflats will completely remove closets to extend the living space, others are more subtle, leaving the closets in place but reducing them to an unusable size for the same effect.
There are plenty of tricks at play to make it appear that the property you are purchasing is more spacious than it really is. Common swinging doors are often swapped for sliding alternatives to free up dead space, corridors may be widened, and whole rooms may be swapped around to create a more appealing floor plan.
Even if you’re aware of the tricks being played, it can be almost impossible to envision what your flat will actually look like without all of the alterations. What can you do to protect yourself?
- Study the floor plan carefully ahead of your viewing. You don’t need to memorize every detail but you should be able to catch any major differences between the planned layout and the modified showflat. Keep your eyes open for odd corners and other building anomalies that the developer might not accentuate in the showflat.
- Watch out for the markings on the floor, you should see tape wherever there should be a wall, marking the position, thickness, and width. If you want a better idea of what the unaltered space will look like, observe the rooms from the perspective of the marked off area.
- Take time to consider the livability of the floor plan, how will you use the space? Don’t ignore anything that gives you a bad feeling. Minor inconveniences become major annoyances over time.
If you fall in love with a change that was made to a showflat, make note of it. Once you have the details of the property, you can price out the alteration for yourself to find the true cost of the alterations and make an informed decision.
2. Better Building Materials
You know that feeling of luxury you get stepping into most showflats? It’s not an illusion, many developers will use higher quality materials in these units to project the desired appearance and convince you to buy.
It’s not always clear where substitutions have been made so don’t hesitate to ask questions about the materials used. Be on the lookout for upgraded flooring, countertops, cabinets, hardware, and fixtures. Even small details like light switch covers and kitchen backsplash may be switched out to improve the atmosphere.
Looks can be deceiving too. What might appear to be a luxurious material could be a cheap imitation, so it’s important to touch and interact with the materials used throughout the property. By doing so, it should quickly become obvious if the house you are viewing is worth the bang for your buck.
4. Upgraded Appliances
Buyer beware, not everything on display in the showflat is included with the property. Developers love to stock kitchens with a full range of high-end appliances to give off a feeling of comfort and luxury, but what you see might not match with what you get.
The appliances you find in your flat aren’t guaranteed to match or even be from the same manufacturer. In all likelihood, the appliances used in the showflat wouldn’t even fit into your unit, even if you opted to buy the same set. It’s not uncommon for a room to be completely rearranged to accommodate appliances for display in an unpractical way.
If you are uncertain, the sales associate should be able to tell you if certain items, like the fridge or the washer-dryer, are part of the appliance package of the building or just for show. For the most part, these appliances aren’t included with new launch properties in Singapore.
5. Quality Control
A showflat is meant to be a representation of the very best a developer has to offer, so you can expect them to go above and beyond when it comes to the finer details.
While you are doing your walkthrough and checking the quality of the building materials, you should also keep a keen eye for signs of poor craftsmanship or rushed work.
There might be obvious signs, like misaligned cabinet doors, peeling or poorly hung wallpaper, or significant wear and tear in older units, but other signs may be more subtle. Don’t be afraid to open drawers, inspect window coverings, and test the faucets. Any sign of neglect is a cause for concern, and a good developer will have nothing to hide.
6. Faux Fixtures
If you didn’t have enough to be on the lookout for already, you can add fake fixtures to your list. While it’s not unusual for a space to have a few non-functional fixtures in place to cover up unsightly utilities like plumbing or a fuse box, some developers will go above and beyond, adding tons of drawers and cupboards to give the appearance of more storage space.
7. Showroom Lighting
Showflats are rarely lit like an actual home. Many will use multiple high powered light sources in each room, making it hard to tell what the space is actually like.
Overlighting a space has a drastic impact on the appearance and feel of the space, which can impact how you feel about it as well. It can also be used to disguise a lack of natural lighting or a shortage of proper light fixtures in the space.
Take note of the location and size of the windows. Consider if the unit you are purchasing will be facing in the hot sun for the majority of each day, or if the view and natural lighting are obscured on your side of the building.
Need another perspective? Turn out the lights! You may not be able to get rid of all of them, but most showflats will allow you to switch off or dim the overhead lighting during your walkthrough.
8.Custom Made Furnishings
Look carefully in the living room, bedroom, or dining area of any showflat and you’re likely to spot some custom made furniture. It might not be immediately apparent, but it’s often not a coincidence that everything seems to fit in just perfectly.
The furniture on display is often a scaled-down version of a similar piece, put in place to make the room on display seem more spacious. The real trick is that you’re often prohibited from interacting with the furniture, making it almost impossible to tell how much smaller it really is.
Be sure to rely on actual measurements when deciding on furniture, a sales associate may tell you that the bedroom can comfortably accommodate a queen-sized bed, but you may not have room to truly move about once you’ve moved it in.
A similar trick is often seen in the dining area, where a table is set flush in the corner. If your family can manage with limited bench seating, this set-up won’t be an issue, but you might not have any room to get around if you need to pull your table away from the wall.
If you’re not sure if the space will work for you, you can always bring a measuring tape to check things out for yourself.
9. Deceptive Decor
Let’s be honest, most of us aren’t going to put in the same time or effort into designing our homes as an interior designer working on a showflat. While it’s fair to assume your space might never be magazine-worthy, you shouldn’t have to worry that you won’t recognize the place when you move in.
Unfortunately, there is a lot that you can do with design, and it takes a keen eye to pick out the tricks. Well-positioned furniture can cover an odd corner and mirrors can be used to reflect light into dark corners, brightening and extending the space.
As long as you are aware of these tricks, they are among the most harmless. If you see anything that strikes you, you can easily incorporate it into your own space!
10. Showcasing Specialty Units
If the purpose of a showflat is to sell prospective buyers on the space, it only makes sense that the units chosen to become showflats are the best that a developer has to offer.
Most buildings have a few units that are larger, have better views, bigger balconies, or higher ceilings, and these are what you are most likely to see when you tour a showflat. Unfortunately, the developer isn’t under any obligation to disclose this, so it’s up to you to spot the differences.
If the showflat you are viewing is on the ground floor or top floor of the building, it’s likely to have a higher ceiling than most other units. In fact, there can be nearly a metre in height difference! If you have nothing to compare it to, it can be easy to be misled by the extended ceiling and believe that your space is going to be much roomier.
A similar method of misdirection is applied to outdoor spaces. If you find yourself on a larger than life balcony, check the measurements! Many buildings are constructed with large balconies on corner units, and flats on the first floor often have what’s called Private Enclosed Space.
Private Enclosed Spaces are usually much larger than the standard balcony included with most units and include the perk of a personal access gate. In both scenarios, you could walk away thinking that you’re getting a lot more outdoor space.
11. Implied Extras
It’s the details that make a space special, but these details might not be representative of the units most buyers will get. When you walk into a showflat, you need to try and see beyond the extras and see it for what it is.
Take note of mood lighting, look beyond the fresh paint and wallpaper, and don’t get drawn in by the polished hardware in the bathroom. You might think these things are included but most properties in Singapore are sold with white walls (so you can customize on your own), basic LED lighting, and generic fixtures.
Not sure if something is included in the purchase price? Don’t be afraid to ask!
Sometimes, show flats do not completely reflect the reality of the actual property you are buying. As a buyer, if you are aware of the common tricks used by Developers to make their showflat more enticing to you, you are in some ways protecting yourself. Knowing all these visual tricks also make your next showflat viewing a more interesting and eye opening experience. Continue to educate yourself with the common “tricks of the trade” and improve your streets smarts in 2022!
What are some of the other red flags you’ve seen while browsing Show Flats? Share them with us!