This Year's Model
It used to be the case that real estate investments offered not only a better place to live but also opened the door to an improved lifestyle. Prospective buyers toured model homes and were led around spacious three-, four- or five-bedroom suburban properties by slimy salesmen showing off shiny mod cons like refrigerators that doubled up as karate sparring partners. But was that the age of innocence, an age when everything was possible, or just one big con.
These days, the model home has for the most part been replaced by model condos. Whenever I visit these units, the thought that I have walked onto a film set is never far from my mind. There's often an icy breeze emitted from an enthusiastic air-conditioner, a cold towel is usually presented at the door and 'chillastic' green tea coolers are courteously offered throughout the 'experience'. Finally, the star of the show, an attractive and evidently ambitious young sales girl bearing a handwritten namecard arrives.
Are those braces I see on Miss Lovely's shiny whites? Yes, of course. Personal development is all part of the path to success.
My baneful dream usually starts to dim once the scale model comes out, however. All those miniscule mock Ferraris dotted about the parking lot of the condo project, which boasts units starting from USD29,000 and all for a vast area of 21.6 square metres. Maybe what the architect had in mind was that the money you could have spent on a larger home should instead be splashed on a top-of-the-range sports car. As long as the Ferrari is outside you should be content sleeping in a closet every night.
The trees often puzzle me. In the concrete reality of these urban settings, the best one can hope for is a bonsai, and that's likely to take up 40 percent of your 21.6 square metre closet.
Of course, a trip to model land is an easy escape from the actual world of poor finishes, disputes with developers over recurring defects, noisy neighbours and obscured views of any direct sun light by a towering inferno of even more tiny rooms also occupied by denizens like you; denizens who have visited the Fountain of Youth, or perhaps the offsite sales units at the nearest high-end mall.
It's been said that you get what you pay for, but is it really true in this case? What value can you place on a property that doesn't live up to its model equivalent?
Matching life to a new home is never easy but next time you visit a model unit, do it with eyes wide open and accept that Miss Lovely's promises, as cute and convincing as they sound whilst you're sipping your artisanal, organic oolong, are likely to be broken.