By Edward Hurley
Test driving a seller’s home has become an interesting topic in real estate. There are many reasons why you would be nervous about allowing a stranger to stay in your home overnight. However, the benefits to allowing a potential buyer stay over are that they are able to hear street noise level is, see how the bedrooms are lit, and even gauge their family’s reaction to a new home. With all of the good that comes with a test drive, you have to understand that you are letting someone who you do not know stay in your most prized possession.
Sleeping over at a seller’s home is not just some small occurrence that happens only in close-knit towns. This phenomenon is happening everywhere. There is even a television show centered around this idea, titled Sleep on It. The show is based on couples staying overnight at two homes on the market to see which is right for them. Whether or not they love the home, the audience is able to see the couple’s reactions for a 24-hour stay at each home. The show can be seen on HGTV. Take a look at their catchy music video that sums up the “sleepover mentality.”
What are the Possible Benefits?
When you test drive a car, you are able to notice all of the things that you like. The same goes for a home. When most people want to buy, they look for the main benefits to owning the home. Buyers want a home that is safe, in a great neighborhood, and beautiful to look at inside and out. With test driving a home, sellers are able to take a night to sleep on it, literally.
Buyers are also able to meet the neighbors. And what better way to get to know a home or a neighborhood than by meeting the people next door? Hopefully the potential buyer finds that the neighbors are people they can get along with.
Clearly, with testing driving a home via sleepover, a buyer is able to take the entirety of the home, the neighbors, and neighborhood into consideration. This may not be for the more private individuals, but it is definitely an idea that is getting some serious buyers wanting to sleep over that dream home of theirs.
What are the Possible Negatives?
With you not in your home for a night or two, what are some of the possible things that can go wrong with a test drive/sleepover? Well, let’s start with the main problem: theft. No matter how trustworthy a person may seem, you can never be sure if they are going to take even the smallest of belongs from you.
Even though most serious home buyers would never do this to you, there are the rare instances of criminals who case homes by watching the coming-and-goings of homeowners. With a sleepover, what can be easier than someone staying over your home without you there to stop them from taking whatever they want? This is where it would be wise to create a list of valuable items to show your insurance agent and buyer so that your home is covered. This way, the buyer knows exactly what items they should refrain from taking.
There is also the possibility of a natural and/or home disaster. A fire can start in the kitchen due to operating the stove or oven. Without a contract, homeowners insurance is incredibly unlikely to cover this.
Even if a natural disaster is unlikely to occur on the day that you have a buyer test drive your home, you may want to prepare a contract in case of an emergency. However, in the event of a flood, earthquake, or fire, your best interest is to have your insurance cover the cost, so you should ask them what their policy is on a test drive.
The longer a buyer spends time in your home, the more likely they are going to see or experience things they do not like about it. Whether it’s the old paint, some minor stains in the carpet, or that ugly stove, a buyer is much more likely to hate the unappealing features the home has the longer that they stay.
Many real estate agents see the benefits, whereas others see the problems that a test drive can lead to. Kimberly Dixon, an agent from Houston, Texas, says, “For the most part, a client spending the night will likely make more emotional decisions and pick apart a property’s minor attributes, all while overlooking major value — such as a good price.”
A test drive can definitely lead to a wrong turn along the potential buyer’s stay at the seller’s home. With the multiple variables that come along with a test drive, it’s safe to say that this is a hot topic for homeowners and agents alike.
Test Drive or Just Drive Home?
Whether you consider the benefits of a test drive or not, a contract should definitely be in place so that you, and the sleepover guest, know exactly what to expect from their stay-over arrangement. No one wants either party to become frustrated with the other due to lack of knowledge about your home or personal belongings being taken.
By discussing with your real estate agent the possible benefits and downsides of a test drive, you are able to understand if this is the right choice for you to make with your home. Just be sure not to let the potential buyer keep any house keys after the test drive.
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