Car Model: Bentley vs. Mini

by Karen Briscoe
March 24, 2016

Recently I was stopped in traffic behind a car that from the rear had the look of a Bentley. As the car was a convertible and because I drive a Mercedes convertible. And as it is springtime and we were both driving with our tops down, it made me take a closer look. To be honest, I am not a car aficionado, so please bear with me if you are. The car was a Mini and I was taken by surprise as the emblems appear to be so similar at first glance. Both have wings that spread out on either sides of a circle. On the Bentley there is a “B” in the center of the circle,  and on the Mini, there is the word “MINI”.  Bentley Motor Limited is a subsidiary of Volkswagen and the Mini is manufactured by BMW. From a distance, it was very difficult to discern the distinction, yet up close it was more evident.

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In home construction and design features this same phenomenon plays out. For means of comparison, the Bentley is the custom built home and the Mini is the tract or production built home. At a distance it may be hard to discern the distinctions. Up close and over time it becomes evident which is which. This illustration works well with buyer clients I’ve found. All vehicles offer form and function of four wheels on a chassis and transportation. The difference becomes apparent when one compares models and upgrades.

In a custom home construction elements and features are top grade relative to a tract home. One of the first clues a buyer can use to discover the level of quality is the hardware for doors and cabinetry. In a custom home knobs are solid and often made or finished by hand. In a tract home the hardware is often plated rather than solid which means it will wear off and likely to peel 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 solid wood or is it veneer over particle board?

Veneer over Particle Board-Photo by Rotor DB

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 do sections of the cabinetry stick out to catch on items?  Dovetail joinery withstands daily usage better then cheaper, less labor intensive construction methods. Pull the drawers out to determine if they fully extend so items can be reached in all sections. Verify whether they soft close as if so it guarantees smooth and long-lasting glide function. Do appliances fit into the cabinetry, or do they stick out like they were not part of the original kitchen design?

Tract home builders sell value for square footage. Professionally decorated models showcase and feature the homes in its best light. The décor often draws the buyer’s attention away from the construction details and instead towards items that do not have lasting market value.

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. One wouldn’t want to pay a Bentley price for a Mini, no matter how cute the car is! Same application for home construction. The professional agent remains knowledgeable about the differences and is able to successfully illustrate to clients.

Karen Briscoe and Lizzy Conroy and their team are active and experienced Realtors® in the Northern Virginia, Washington DC and suburban Maryland market place and would be delighted to assist whether for home buying or selling.  Please contact via the means most convenient for you:, 703-734-0192,

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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