1. Model homes and new home communities are designed to create an emotional connection between you and the builder and encourage you to buy. Be prepared to be impressed!

2. Billboards and directional signs will closely align with the builder’s advertising and website, and some may attempt to create urgency with special sales, opportunities, or limited availability.

3. Even though you want to walk through the model, drive through the community. Take special notice of how the community feels. If anything bothers you, drive away. If it isn’t “love at first sight,” you’ll never love it when you live there.

4. If the builder leaves their inventory homes unlocked during business hours, walk through some of them and take special notice of everything. You can call in advance and ask the on-site salesperson if the inventory homes are unlocked during business hours, and even request that they leave one or two open for you when you want to visit.

5. Don’t visit the model home at this point. Once you’re done with your community visit, leave the community, and move on to the next builder on your list.

6. Continue to modify your shortlist of builders and communities with what you learn. Now, you’re building your final lists from the “outside in.”

7. Take careful notice of how neat and clean the community looks. Is it well-maintained?

8. How do the construction sites for the homes that are currently being built look? Are the sites neat, or is trash and discarded lumber everywhere? This will give you a little insight into how the builder approaches their product.

9. I always recommend that shoppers look at the little things because sometimes they can mean a lot. Is the flag pole perfectly vertical? Do the ponds look clean? Is the welcome mat fresh? And, are the “Available, Sold, and Under Contract” signs straight, or are they crooked?

10. Pay particular attention to the first “feeling” that you get as you drive through a community. This “first impression” is important. If it isn’t “perfect” the first time you see it, it may never get there.