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The Scam called “Sample Flat” – Learn how builders trap property buyers

by Manish Chauhan · 47 comments

One of the biggest traps for real estate buyers are “Sample Flats”. When you visit properties sites to inquire about any under construction properties or ready for possession flats, the builder or the sales person there shows you a “Sample Flat”. The moment you look at a sample flat, something happens to you. The sample flat is so beautiful and mesmerizing that, you feel like you are in love again, some kind of beautiful music starts playing in your head and for a moment, you visualize the future with your family living within that same sample flat and how you and your loved one’s are enjoying the ambiance and premiumness the sample flat offers.

You are delighted !

But – This is trap, set by Builder

Sample Flat Example

Why you get trapped ? 

Because you are human, you have emotions and you have lots of dreams for your family and yourself. Because in this competitive society, you have to grab your share of status and show to the world, that your time has come finally! .

Builders know how to exploit the human psyche and how to manipulate your aspirations. Every person wants to give himself and his family the best housing and the most spacious and premium living conditions – a fact, well known to the builder. When they create sample flat, all these things are kept in mind and the sample flat is constructed in a manner that makes you fall in love with it at the first sight. The builder’s goal is to ensure that your emotional mind is activated and prevents your rational mind from questioning things or think hard. You should be hypnotized! . Check out this guy sharing how his builder did not fulfill his promise

Lets look at 2 important points you know should be aware about the so called sample flats, which can save you from potential disappointment some time in future when you hunt for your dream home.

Trick #1 – Sample Flats are created to look more “Spacious”

Everyone wants a big house at a lower cost. Given there are 4-6 people in family on an average and lots of belongings in home, a bigger house is always preferred than a smaller one. You should have space for all the things you have at home, without making your home look cluttered. So few tricks are used to make sure that the sample flat looks more spacious artificially! . Here are they

  • There are no doors in toilets and bathrooms, and some of the walls are merely glass partitions, which creates a visual illusion of more space.
  • There are no doors between rooms in a sample flat, which makes the flat appear more spacious than it really is.
  • The ceiling is much higher than the real flat and is just increases the volume of sample flat, thus giving a feel of space.
  • The lighting using in sample flat is suggested by interior designers, who are experts in creating optical illusions.
  • The furniture used in sample flat is kept smaller, so that in comparison the rooms and kitchen looks bigger.
  • Even the other things like bed, almira’s and dining table in kitchen are placed in such a way and are of smaller size, to give a feeling of more space.
  • The walls are much thinner in sample flat, compared to the real flat, which again gives more spacing. They are known to use gypsum boards and not the real cemented wall.

What you should do ?

Once you visit a sample flat, the first thing you should do is slow down and stop yourself from getting biased by the spacious feel of it. For a moment, consciously tell yourself that you know its not reality and a kind of trap (remember 3 idiots – “All is well, All is well”) . Visualize the furniture, bed, kitchen belongings, all the almira’s you own at home. Your Sofa, your TV, your Waching machine and Refridgerator and every thing you own and ask where will you keep it ? Also consider those new things you might buy before moving to new property ?

If you are seriously considering buying a house, then actually mark places where you will keep what and check the space it will take (mentally atleast) . Seek help from ladies at home, because they have a better understanding of minor details and can tell you, if the flat will be able to accommodate everything with higher accuracy (and in most of the cases, women are anyways more bothered for those things compared to men).

Note that rather than blaming builder on using these tactics and fooling you, I would suggest being self-reliant, as there is nothing illegal in what the builder has done. Yes, its kind of unethical and the tricks employed here, are just a way of exploiting human psychology and aspirations. But then, there is no law on all these points and anyways, the agreement will mention that the sample flat was just for demonstration purposes and the look and feel of the actual flat may be a little different. I want you to be prepared for this, rather than complaining about things.

Here is one real life experience I found on the net, which talks about the same thing we are discussing here

At the time of booking Builder shown a central park as well as a very huge green area (80% of the project), the same is also shown/mentioned in the Brochure given to me during the time of booking. He also showed a sample flat and did a sale agreement with me.

Now builder is constructing three new towers on the park area and also cutting down the green area as he is coming up with another project on the same green land – Source here

Trick #2 – Sample Flats gives the feeling of PREMIUM

Who does not want a premium and beautiful home? Everyone does!

We want our house to be better than others, we want to make sure we get the best. We aspire to live in premium homes (majority of them, if you dont). Builders do their homework properly and put all their efforts in making sure that the sample flat looks the way most of the people cant actually afford!.

I mean to say that every bit of work, furniture, finishing and material used are expensive and of very high quality and high standards. In many cases, the cost incurred in making the sample flat look premium is more than the cost of the flat itself (Imagine 50 lacs flat having 50 lacs of premium things inside it, just to make it look premium).

  • The fixtures and furnishing used are of world class quality and brand and is so premium that instantly a prospective buyer imagines him selves owning it.
  • The floor tiles used are of high quality and more beautiful than what you get in reality.
  • The view you get from Balcony and Windows is really great (lake view, greenery, beautiful mountains), but in reality your flat might be on the other side of the project, which has all the old buildings and has a crowded road (may be after some years) and you will not get the same view which you saw in sample flat. This is because the sample flat is created first and the location chosen for it is well planned and for the purpose :)
  • The furniture used in the sample flat is very expensive and promises high lifestyle. Imagine 5-6 lacs worth of Sofa set, whereas you will buy only 50k worth of sofa in your case.
  • The walls will have beautiful paintings which most of people want, but cant afford .

Tip – This startup called ArtSquare sells ART and Paintings at affordable price to common man. Boy! , they also have the feature which shows you, how it looks on the wall. check out this example.

Difference between Sample flat and real flat


What to do ?

Incase of under-construction property, you cant do much, you can only rely on the builder words and do some research on how truthful they are by talking to their old project buyers (actually go there, and talk to some flat owners about their experience). Before booking the flat, you need to get all information from builder on the materials going to be used, which brand they will be, what kind of wall paint , which fittings ? which wires ? what kind of tiles ? everything in detail ! .

Note that, you are going to get unfurnished flat, and then you have to put everything from fan, AC, bed, sofa and everything else you have at home. So its important to check out the unfurnished flat apart from sample flat, but its possible only when you are buying a ready to move in property. Check out this debate on Under construction property VS Ready for Possession Property if you are considering which is better than other.

Conclusion

As buying home is one time decision, its always better to be more present (physically and mentally) to reality and not take the decision in hurry. Sample flats are not reality and you have to get that. You also should control yourself and your family members emotions (a lot of real estate buyers complain that ladies fall for the beautiful looking flats and get excited by beautiful wall colors, premium kitchen and the wall texture giving wow-experience and then do not comeback to reality from the unreal world they reached after looking at sample flat. Slow down and take the right decision.

I want to hear your views now ! . Have you seen sample flats in past or recently ?

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Deep September 9, 2013 at 11:46 am

I dnt agree with the article of sample flat. Most of the builders show you 2 sample flats of which one is furnished and other what they will provide actually.
Every businessman will always try to make its product more marketable. So it depends on you.
They are not doing anything wrong.

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2 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 9:08 am

Deep

Agree many builders do it that way. Article obviously does not mean to say that 100 out of 100 builders do this

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3 Jagdish October 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Completely agree with the artical, and I belive 90% of the builder do adapt this technique to trap the customers, the flat that my builder have shown up 2 yeard ago is far different one that was handed over to me, it was feeling more spacious and attractive, yes it is designed to look like that. So I believe they use to make such trap always so beware of that.

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4 srikanth September 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I agree with you Manish. I too felt mesmerized when I saw a model flat for the first time. I never saw builder constructing two model flats may be big builders may construct two model flats. If we go to a small or medium builder there won’t be any model flat most of the times. I believe the information provided by you applicable to both small and big builders. Good article.

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5 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 9:07 am

Thanks for sharing your experience

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6 rajan September 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Some builders create bigger sample flats than the actual one… there sampleflatislocated adjacent to their sales office away from the actual buildings.

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7 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 9:07 am

Yup . that happens !

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8 prasad September 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Absolutely correct. I had visited famous builder sample flat last month, the sample flat was indeed good :). The cots used in bed rooms were of 5 ft instead 6 or 6.5 ft :)

I

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9 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 9:06 am

Thanks for confirming :)

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10 Bhupesh September 9, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Best judgement can be made from floor plan, standard sizes of commonly used furniture, items and by visualization. Things to note:

*) Dimension mentioned may be engineering dimensions or round off, after plaster actual size of the room may reduce by at least 2 inchs on both L&W.
*) Beams and Column are not generally shown in the model flats, they occupy/reduce critical space.

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11 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 9:05 am

Thanks for sharing that point !

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12 Sushil September 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Article is really superb and it is the only article ( i think) on this specific topic….! Though Mine is smaller town away from the world of flats..yet in the coming 8-10 years flat culture may come……….so we will be aware

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13 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 9:04 am

Thanks for sharing

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14 Ashvin September 9, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Hi Manish. I have seen many homes / flats & still searching. With that experience, I surprised to read this article. I don’t agree. I had seen sample flats / house and ready possession flats / house in the same building and almost all the time, I found no such trap / difference. After all, they need to remain in market.

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15 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 9:04 am

This article is for underconstruction flats where you do not have ready flats to see and you are shown sample flats. Its my mistake that I didnt mention this clearly in the article .

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16 GB September 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm

very good artical…
keep it up…

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17 angan chandra September 10, 2013 at 5:56 pm

i don’t think anyone take buying decision by just seeing sample flat. The builder show it to customer just to create a feel good factor. The sample flat doesn’t have any role of buying decision.

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18 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 8:50 am

Angan

You are living in myth then. Tons of buyers see the sample flat and make the booking amount. Here in Pune, my cousin’s friends have booked their flats just on seeing sample flat. Thats another fact that its a foolish design . But not all investors think so deliberately on this .

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19 STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION) September 10, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Great article with some good comments from everyone. In America, sample homes are sold as is usually after all building lots in a development are sold. You can sometimes get a good bargain on these homes.

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20 anonymous September 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

So does here in India. Unless specially built at an office location (which sometimes happens specially with a very big builder/developer and premium project), the samples flats/ houses are sold to customer towards the end of the project, mostly with the furniture. I don’t completely agree with this article. Most projects don’t have the flats with all equal area and flat with the biggest area is chosen as sample .

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21 Manish Chauhan September 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Steven

Are you in India ?

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22 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 8:48 am

Thanks for sharing that. the same happens in India too :)

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23 Sucharita September 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Hello Manish,

Nice article !
Me and my husband has bought a flat in Pune last year. As usual we also have visited many of the residential projects. The fact that you have shared in this article is actually what I have seen at few projects but not all. Moreover the builder from whom we purchased, they have just made one of the flats in their 1st building as a Sample Flat, and had put the furniture in a very normal and reasonable way. And now after the possession the family staying there, have actually placed there own things in the same way as it was at the show case time.

I really feel, buying the first home is a very big decision and we should do all the R&D before making the final call. In my personal opinion, one should go with well known trustful builders.

Regards,
Sucharita Sinha

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24 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 8:45 am

SUchitra

Obviously article does not mean that 100 out of 100 builders to it . Also if flats are ready for possession , then sample flats are mostly in side one of the buildings only

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25 R Choksi September 10, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Hi,

Nice article.

I will give you a real life example of such a thing. A very well known builder in Thane and Powai is building a cluster of ‘premium’ buildings in Thane in his existing township. He has built a new office to showcase ‘sample’ flats. The Living Room in the actual floor plan has an area (duct) which cannot be broken and cannot be included in the living room, BUT the builder in his sample flat has shown this area in the Living room thus giving a false illusion and feeling that the living room will be much bigger than the actual one. Similar false representation is done in the kitchen too. I was shocked to see such things since the builder is supposed to be having good reputation and is known to use quality material and give timely delivery of the flats.

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26 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 8:44 am

Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us. Which builders are those ?

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27 Version October 13, 2013 at 8:01 pm

I believe Mr. Choksi is referring to Hiranandanis and its project named Rodas Enclave in Thane. This builder is known for creating hidden spaces in such a way that the walls can be broken down after you get possession and lay slabs to create additional space. Same would have been shown in the sample flat. Such hidden spaces are not added to the saleable area of the flat.

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28 Manish Chauhan October 18, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Only Mr Choksi can confirm that :)

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29 Norman Dgama September 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm

what about the multinational companies which sell burgers and pizzas and put up larger than life posters, is this not wrong in your opinion?

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30 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 8:43 am

Yes, they are equally the trap !

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31 Ravi September 10, 2013 at 11:33 pm

If someone is buying a flat because he/she saw and liked a sample flat..I’m sorry to say he/she is a fool and deserves what they get.
By the way I have a 100% sure way of tripling your money in 3 months. Send me Rs 5000 and take 15000 in 3 months.

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32 Kuntal September 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

@ Ravi,
I have a very useful suggestion for you. Why dont you invest your own money
into the tripling scheme- in a few years you will be the richest in the world.
More foolish than those falling for sample flats, are those falling for
doubling-tripling-quadrupling schemes.
What do you think?

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33 Ravi September 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm

@ Kuntal…..someone missed the irony my friend :-)

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34 Manish Chauhan September 18, 2013 at 8:42 am

Thanks for sharing your views on this topic

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35 hari September 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm

I think the article is partly correct, if the builder has built the sample flats out side the actual apartment. (for example prestige, he will construct the model/sample flat out side the apartment). But some of the builders they do make the model/sample flat in one of the flats in the actual apartment/building.

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36 Manish Chauhan September 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Yes Hari

This article is for under construction projects, I must have mentioned that ! , My bad !

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37 astrosunil October 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm

One thing to take precaution is the sample flat will have good light & ventilation from all sides, the unit you may shortlist may not have such a luxury. I saw an appt which had a huge wall just opposite to main door which implies less light. One my friend told that his appt was not as per the dimensions as mentioned, he took a tape & measured. If its less, well, then we should think about this !

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38 Manish Chauhan October 7, 2013 at 8:20 am

Thanks for sharing that Astrosunil

Really good point for those who are opting for under construction !

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39 Bhagirathi October 2, 2013 at 2:48 am

Hi Manish. I was once invited to attend the inauguration of a building. A sample flat was ready. I was mesmerized when I saw it. When I asked the builder if the sample house was for sale, he said it was not for sale, but meant for display. Probably he had decided to live in it himself. You are right, sample houses are cleverly designed to trap the customer.

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40 Manish Chauhan October 7, 2013 at 8:16 am

Thanks for sharing the real life example, which city/project was it incase you can share ?

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41 ujwal October 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I need some guidance over here.
I saw the sample flat and I really liked it and I booked the flat , But after some days of booking builders sale person are clarifying that the sample flat is just for shot, and the material they are using in actual flat will b different, and if u want same material as sample flat u have to pay more for that.
What should I do now…?

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42 Manish Chauhan October 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm

You cant do much .. thats how it works !

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43 swarup October 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Hi Manish,

I am in love with this site now.

It is opening my eyes in many fields. Thanks for the infor

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44 Manish Chauhan October 26, 2013 at 9:32 am

Welcome Swarup !

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45 lucas_arrogant November 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm

very helpful for someone like me who has just started..
THANKS for this article…

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46 Manish Chauhan December 3, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Welcome !

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