Several new programs are allowing buyers to try out a condo or resort home before agreeing to purchase it, The Wall Street Journal reports. Potential buyers are showing up at events to hang out with neighbors, having a dinner in the kitchen, or even spending a night or two in the home before making a decision on whether to make an offer.
The homebuilder Toll Brothers is offering a "Fly and Buy" program for potential buyers traveling to a new town to try out a guest unit in some of their communities, or nearby hotels (if guest units aren’t available). The travel costs can be applied to the purchase contract, if they decide to buy.
Honua Kai Resort & Spa, a luxury condo complex in Maui, is offering a Stay and Play program, where potential buyers can rent condos between $250 and $2,200 per night. If they decide to purchase a condo, the cost of the stay can be applied to their purchase.
Also, Wheelhaus, a company that manufactures luxury prefab houses as small as 400 square feet, launched a "try before you buy" campaign. Potential buyers who are willing to travel to the company’s headquarters in Jackson, Wyo., can spend the night at a resort made up of several Wheelhaus models. The company then agrees to fully reimburses the cost of a stay if the buyer ends up purchasing one of the homes.
For some buyers, the option to stay-over can be just the motivation they need to buy, though these opportunities to stay-over in a home prior to a purchase remain rare.
However some real estate professionals say they are receiving more requests from their buyers about it. Carol Bird, a real estate professional in Malibu, Calif., says one client asked to spend a significant amount of time in a home listed to get a sense of the traffic noise during different times of the day, while another buyer wanted to try out the home’s many high-tech features.
"Either they already liked the house and then change their mind and you lose the deal, or it stays the same," says Bird, who doesn’t think offering buyers a "test-run" is a good idea.
But some see a perk in allowing buyers the extra time to linger or stay.
"It makes sense; you spend more time trying on a pair of shoes than you do buying a house," says Susan Vanech, a Westport, Conn.-based real estate professional. Vanech offered potential buyers a chance to sleep over in the $574,000 home she owns and recently listed for sale (although no buyers took her up on the offer).