Most of what you see in the photo above of a Ryland Homes model home (as well as with most builder's model homes) is an upgrade, like the wood floor, backsplash, kitchen sink faucet, kitchen cabinetry, and pendant lights. Yet, there is no way for the prospective buyer to know these material facts. Some builders put a sheet of paper on an acrylic stand in every room that tells exactly what is an upgrade for each room. Home buyers want to know what will be the approximate TOTAL COST of their prospective home, so they don't want to be unintentionally misled and have their expectations set improperly.
Before you read the rest of this post, please be aware that my wife and I did not enjoy our first year of Ryland Home ownership. See "My Last Ryland Homes Blog Post & My Attempt To Help Ryland Homes!" to get a better overview of our Ryland Home complaint to the BBB, and links to the over 100 Ryland Home problems that were all eventually fixed after 13 months of having much of our time wasted.
The Ryland sales reps are not always available to deliniate an upgrade from something standard that comes with the base price of the home. It should not be their responsibility anyway. Model homes are a form of advertising, and the FTC says that advertising must have clear, conspicuous, comprehensive, and comprehendable disclosure about the "material facts" of the offering.
The Federal Trade Commission has a "FTC Policy Statement On Deception" regarding their "enforcement policy against deceptive acts or practices." Notice, this is NOT just for the more traditional forms of "advertising". The summary goes on to say "First, there must be a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer."
Now, as far as kudos goes, Ryland has a wise sales policy that greatly helped in my decision to buy a Ryland home (See Next Page).
When I first looked at Ryland Homes, I talked to some of the people already living in the development. The most important thing I found out is that a recent $29,000 price reduction on my style of home (different styles had different amounts of lowered pricing) was refunded to the current homeowners at the appropriate amounts for each style in the form of "cash back" after they had closed escrow on their homes. This was a sales policy that, if continued, would be "Price Protection" for me, if there were more price reductions after I bought. 2/7/08 UPDATE: There now seems to be a possibility that I misunderstood some of the many people that I spoke to in my development. The rebate or refund may not have happened at all, and there may only have been a downward price adjustment BEFORE they closed escrow. A title insurance officer in Tx. recently informed me of this: since the home's loan, if there is one, can be based on the original selling price, a refund/rebate could present problems for the home builder with all the "sub-prime" lending allegations going around .
I find it interesting that Dana Rogers, vice president of sales and marketing, Ryland Homes Las Vegas just instituted "Purchase Power Advantage" for an upcoming 1/25/08 to 1/27/08 National Sales Event. She says: "If prices decline before settlement, the home builder will adjust the price to reflect the lower cost." Why limit it to only "BEFORE SETTLEMENT"? Can you imagine someone moving in to their new Ryland home only to find that they paid around $30,000 more than what the base price of their style home costs future owners? At least Ms. Rogers recognized a portion of a major concern of all new home buyers.
My suggestion to Ryland is set a time limit for the "price protection" of say four months, but extend it beyond the closing or settlement date. Anyway, I can only hope that the "current owner price protection" that Ryand gave in my tract in April of 2007, will be repeated in the future. In any case, kudos to Ryland for addressing part of a major consumer concern in this "buyer's market" that all home sellers are dealing with right now.