Car Models Analogy to Buying or Selling a Home

by Karen Briscoe
June 20, 2011

Recently I was stopped in traffic behind a car that from the rear looked similar to a Bentley.  It was a convertible and because I drive a Mercedes convertible, I pulled up to take a closer look.  To be honest, I am not a car aficionado, so please bear with me if you are, but it turns out that the car was a Mini Cooper.  I was surprised that the emblems were so similar, with wings that spread out from both sides of a circle.  On the Bentley there is a “B” in the center of the circle, and on the Mini Cooper, the center holds the word “MINI”.  From a distance, it was very difficult to discern the distinction, but up close the difference was evident.

As a Realtor I am reminded as to how this scenario plays out in home construction and design features as well.  For means of comparison, the Bentley is the custom built home and the Mini is the tract or production built home.  I have found that at a distance one can have a difficult time discerning the difference, but up close it becomes evident quickly which is which.

For example, the materials in a custom home are the top grade relative to a tract home.  One of the first clues I use to discover the level of quality is by examining the door hardware – in a custom home the knobs are solid and often made and/or finished by hand.   In a tract home the door hardware is often peeling or worn, evidence that the finish is plated rather than solid and thus will wear off over time.

Another clue as to the quality of the selections is to examine the cabinetry in the kitchen, bathrooms and built-in features.  Is the construction of solid wood or is it veneer over particle board?  Is the finish lacquer which does not wear well over time, or is the wood varnished or hand finished in some fashion?  Are the parts joined with concealed screws and glue, or will there be pieces and parts of the cabinetry sticking out to catch on items?  Dovetail joinery will stand up over time much longer then the cheaper, less labor intensive construction methods.  Pull the drawers out to determine if they extend fully so items can be reached in all sections and soft close to prevent crashes as well as guaranteeing smoother and longer-lasting glide function.   Do the appliances fit into the cabinetry, or do they stick out like they were not planned into the kitchen design?

Tract home builders sell value for square footage.  Typically the product is showcased with a model home that has been professionally decorated.  The décor often draws the buyer’s attention away from the construction details and instead towards the “fluff”.

The point of this analogy is to make one aware.  Just as I thought I was looking at a Bentley at first glance, in closer inspection I realized the car was a Mini.  Wouldn’t want to pay a Bentley price for a Mini Cooper, no matter how cute the car is!

Karen Briscoe and Lizzy Conroy with the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Realty Group, Keller Williams are both knowledgeable experts in the real estate world of Northern Virginia.  Whether it is for buying or selling real property, Karen and Lizzy can be reached at 703-734-0192 or  Or visit the HBC Realty Group website for more information at

Karen Briscoe is Principal of the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group (HBC) and author of "Real Estate Success in 5 Minutes a Day". She is an Associate Broker in Virginia, a Certified Luxury Home Market Specialist, and a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors. Karen began her real estate career developing residential lots with the Trammel Crow Company in Dallas, and in commercial real estate with The Staubach Company in the Washington, DC Metro area. Karen has a Masters Degree from Southern Methodist University and her BA from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri – her hometown.
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