Ravindra and Madhu Arya were one of the many home buyers who got carried away by the posh and spacious sample flat that opened out to a great view at the site office of one of the reputed developers in Pune.
“The flat shown to us was so airy and spacious that we felt this is the dream house we thought of. We immediately booked it though the rate was a bit higher than that prevailing in the area,” said Madhu Arya. “However, on the day of possession, we were in for a shock. The flat handed to us was something that we didn’t expect. It had dark portions and no breeze. It had no view and seemed very small.”
The sample flat is the most potent marketing tool developers use to lure buyers into making purchase decisions. They are done up by interior designers and the furniture too is customised to make it look spacious and bring out a high-end feel. The cost that goes into doing up the flat is sometimes higher than the cost of the flat.
“In some cases, visually appealing sample flats may help detract from the fact that the project’s location is not exactly cutting-edge,” says Om Ahuja, CEO-Residential Services, JLL India.
“Showing a sample flat to give an idea of the product is technically not illegal. It is a standard marketing tool,” says Naresh Mehta, a Mumbai-based property consultant. “The problem is that most developers use this to deceive the buyers. The facts are hidden and the difference between the sample flat and actual flat is not revealed at that point. That is unethical,” adds Mehta.
There are two problems at this stage. One, the buyer is unaware of the tricks and walks into the trap and secondly, he is emotional and vulnerable at the time of searching for his dream house and becomes an easy target of the sales team who sell a dream with this exquisitely designed sample flat. The so-called ‘show’ flat is an eye-wash in many ways.
The sample flat is positioned in such a way that the person walking through it feels abundant light and good ventilation. Then he is taken to the windows or the balconies, which would offer a pleasant view. However, when the buyer moves in, that window in all probability would face another building. There may not be sufficient light and air in the dream house. The floor and the orientation of the flat could change.
Size is another front to fool the prospective buyer. Usually, the area of the sample flat is quite bigger than those up for sale. The ceiling is higher too. But the flat would be smaller. By the time the difference is realised, it is too late.
“Unfortunately, the client does not check or measure the size of the sample flat. He may feel awkward to do so, and the sales representative convinces him that he would get something similar and that he need not bother,” says Ramesh Ranka, a broker in Mumbai.
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