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The 'Sales Trap'
This is the term used to describe the access route to and from the show houses. The show houses are fenced in so that they can only be accessed via the sales centre (aka marketing suite). This means you are first 'qualified' by the sales advisor before you see the show homes and on your return, the sales advisor can ask you further questions. It also makes it more difficult (but not unheard of) for anyone to steal items from the show homes.
The sales advisor selling you a new home.
These people are not your friend! They want and need you to buy so they can get their commission. Commission on sales is the all they are interested in. See the youtube video below, it may be from the US but people like this work in UK house builder’s marketing suites!
When asked, it is important to be vague and not give any information away. If you are pressed never give you real name and address, especially if you are what sales staff refer to as "rubber-neckers" and are only looking. If you give your telephone number and address you could be pestered. Never give away your current circumstances. These details are used in weekly and monthly reports sent to the builder’s offices. Even if you are not a serious buyer, you could be unwittingly giving the house builder free market research.
"Qualifying" is the term used to find out how serious a sales prospect you actually are. Questions like "Have you got a place to sell? Is it on the market? What stage is the sale at? Do you have a mortgage arranged?" are all qualifying questions asked by the sales advisor to access your potential as a buyer.
If you say you have nothing to sell and already have a mortgage arranged, or are a cash buyer, the sales advisor will follow you around the show homes like a puppy!
Ask for a copy of the Code. It details 19 requirements to ensure house builders treat buyers fairly and do not make misleading statements. You should record your conversations with the Sales Advisor(s) to support and confirm any claim you make at a later date. Builders are required, under 1.2 of the Code, to give you a copy free of charge. Read it thoroughly BEFORE RESERVING any new home.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 are there to protect buyers and have largely replaced the Property Misdescriptions Act 1992, making it a criminal offence to make false or misleading statements. It is therefore against the law for sales advisors or any brochure to mislead or make false declarations. If the sales advisors do not know the answer to your question, they should say so and not just guess. If they give you incorrect information (whether knowingly or not) they could be personally prosecuted as well as their employer. Even so, it is vital that everything you are told about specific questions is written down or confirmed in writing. You should also not take everything you are told a face value, they want the sale after all. In short, trust no one!
Sales advisors are in a great position to suggest or "recommend" the services of many outside organisations. They will do this because they receive commission from these companies or another form of gratuity.
You should never use the same solicitor as the house builder or any solicitor they recommend. Your legal representative must be 100% independent and act in your interests not those of the house builder. It is a breach of 2.5 of the Consumer Code to require a buyer to use a builder nominated solicitor. Quite a few do and are in breach of Code requirements.
Other organisations that may be pushed by the builder’s sales staff include:
Mortgage brokers, surveyors, carpet contractors, TV aerial installers, garden landscapers and various tradesmen. Whilst they may be perfectly reliable, you should make you own enquiries and get at least three quotations.
You would think that visiting a development to look at new homes should be relatively straightforward. But if you are not prepared, you may have to disclose all sorts of personal information before you even get near the show homes.
Amazingly even in a property slump, some house builders are suggesting you need to pre book an appointment to view their show homes. This can only be to ensure a sales advisor accompanies you. He or she can then turn your negatives into positives and give you the hard sell and gather information more casually. However, you should be able to just turn up, as the sales advisor will know that you are unlikely to return, having had one wasted visit. No new home is that good!
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