When it comes to optioning the house, the primary question an investor should be asking themselves upon an acquisition is whether or not the option selected will contribute to the sell-ability of the house, relative to the actual cost. Obviously, there’s a point of diminishing return if one builds a Taj Mahal in a land of tract homes. Despite the urge to go all out and deck the place to the tee, please resist the temptation. Doing so will only cut down on your return. This is particularly important given the fact that since it is an investment, an investment with an unknown value, it isn’t prudent to put some of the potential gain at risk by purchasing unnecessary design upgrades that aren’t critical.
More often than not, homebuilders are aware of this vulnerability. This is more then ever true for investors, for whom they will provide a glut of options and upgrades that are grossly marked up. This type of financial exploitation provides an income stream that is indispensable to many homebuilders, such as KB Home, who are notorious for their exuberant cost upgrades and options. This system is so elaborate that their design department is a whole corporation of its own-which is known as KB Home Studio and rivals that of most high-end design centers. Not only are these stand-alone profit centers, KB Home has a separate business unit with senior vice presidents, AVPs, regional heads, etc., to take care of this organizational monster. The great thing about this apparatus is that it offers a plethora of design upgrades and options that are really top-shelf. The only problem is that you usually have to pay an arm and a leg to get these wonderful amenities.
To relate a story, the first time I went through a KB Home Studio, it was baptism by fire. I spent over eight hours in the design center, split over two days. At $35,000 plus in upgrades, I estimated that it cost me about $4,300 an hour to shop in their design center. You can see why I was happy to get out of there. Keep in mind also, that you may be required to pay a fraction of the upgrade costs in the form of a deposit soon after selection. This is almost a certainty and industry standard. On average, the deposit amount runs 25 percent to 50 percent and are usually nonrefundable. The consequence of this deposit requirement is apparent, in that it makes it more difficult, especially as an investor, to walk away from a transaction.
In spite of the latter, you can see on a pure convenience factor, it’s hard not to like that a homebuilder can offer you lots of options….