Real Estate "Test Drives"

Can’t Decide About that Shiny New Condo?
Take it for a Test Drive

In a trend noted in The Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago, some creative Sellers and their realtors are resorting to “sleepovers” to entice fence-sitting Buyers. The idea is that once they really to get know the property, they’ll be so impressed by the view/ambience/amenities, they’ll step up with an offer. See, “More Home Buyers Seek Sleepover ‘Test Drive'” (The Wall Street Journal; July 15, 2008).

Now, that idea is being tried locally by at least one property: a new condo tower on the southeast corner of downtown Minneapolis.

The strategy would seem to work best when the building in question has some hidden or easily overlooked feature — like a spectacular view — that one can only really appreciate by living there (however briefly).

However, “Test Drives” would also seem to have the potential to backfire: there’s no better way to find out about a building’s warts than sharing an elevator ride with disgruntled current owners.

Will it catch on? Maybe, but probably only until the market improves, at which point prospective Buyers can expect a lot less coddling (not to mention fewer price reductions, Seller-paid points, etc.). One would also expect “test drives” to be limited to vacant properties, either because the owner has already moved out, or, never moved in (new construction).

In the meantime, don’t expect a free weekend’s lodging in a swanky new building under the guise of doing a “test drive”: owners are carefully qualifying prospects, and often requiring a hefty security deposit.

P.S.: the pendulum sure has swung the opposite direction from the days of multiple offers: back then, Buyers had hours (or less) after first viewing a home to make up their minds! Let’s hear it for a happy medium . . .

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.
1 Response
  1. Josh

    Ross –
    Your link only gets to a preview pane with a request to subscribe for the full article. Not sure that reading the WSJ is imperative as you do a good job of describing various pros and cons of housing “test drives” in your entry.

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