Buying property: Beware of sample flats

Mar 01 2014, 10:58 IST
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The sample flat is the most potent marketing tool developers use to lure buyers into making purchase decisions. (Thinkstock) The sample flat is the most potent marketing tool developers use to lure buyers into making purchase decisions. (Thinkstock)
SummaryFrom smaller furniture to higher ceilings, developers deploy all tricks in sample flat to entice buyer.

would not be the same quality for the flat that would be sold. The flooring would also be high-end and walls will have impressive artwork to delight the buyers instantly.

The furniture is another piece of optical deceit. That is because it is made to a size smaller than the standard size. The dining table, the beds, the study table etc are smaller and overhead closets have lesser depth. This makes the room look bigger and the buyer assumes that all his furniture will fit in well. In reality, the house would have furniture of standard dimension, and the room could look congested.

The fixtures used in sample flats are top of the line to impress the buyer. In the actual flat, to be moved in at the end of 3-6 years, they would be either be inferior or of the same brand but of a lower range.

The lighting is done in such a way that one feels as though natural light is reaching every corner of the flat. In one case, hidden air-conditioning ducts were installed to make the buyers feel cool and that was attributed to the natural breeze from the ‘lush green’ surroundings.

The legal angle

Seen legally, showing the sample flat is valid. To prove that there was a difference between the sample flat and the actual flat needs evidence. Buyers don’t have any documentary proof of the sample flat. Photography or video-shoot is smartly prohibited by the developer by saying that competitors might steal their design. The buyers don’t realise that the ‘design’ the developer claims to be protecting is already available in his brochures. He is actually prohibiting the buyer from taking away any evidence of the sample flat.

“Since the actual sample flat is demolished before possession, the buyer will usually have no evidence. In case someone has any proof, the developer will have another layer of safety in the agreement” says Shefali Madan, a Mumbai-based advocate. “The buyer agreements are usually tilted in favour of the developers and they would typically insert a clause such as ‘the final design may vary subject to approvals’ or ‘dimensions and specifications are indicative’ or ‘the developer reserves the right to change or alter without prior intimation’ etc. This clause makes the buyer defenceless.” Most of the regulatory provisions are silent on the issue of discrepancy between the sample flat, brochures and the actual flat.

The Checks

Buyers have

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