Test Driving a Home

by TTMK on November 4, 2013 · 7 comments

test drive a houseIf you’ve ever bought a home, you know that there is often a gap between the impression a place makes from its online images vs. what you actually see when you visit in person.  Pictures are nice and a good screening tool, but they don’t come close to substituting for walking through a home.

So of course, it’s important to actually be there physically to see a place you may want to buy.  After all, it’s probably not cheap, or a trivial impulse purchase.  It’s an expensive item that someone can also call home.

Thus, it stands to reason that the more time you have to look at a place before buying, the better.  Along those lines, I came across this article on Yahoo! Finance that talks about how someone did more than just visit a home and tour it before considering it for purchase.  Rather, the guy discussed in the article actually did a preview of the home.  Meaning, he apparently had the chance to spend 12 hours in the place.

Talk about an extended tour!  This is a good amount of time, where someone can really learn a lot more than they could in just one or two quick visits.

I happen to think this is a great idea – particularly from the perspective of the buyer.  If you’re going to be shelling out serious money for a home (as most people seem prone to do), and a lot of this money will come from money you borrow through a mortgage, it stands to reason that you should spend some time analyzing what you’re getting.

When I bought a place, I made sure to make several visits to contenders.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the real estate agent was sick of us, but it just made sense to look at a place at least 3 times before making a decision.  Also, those visits shouldn’t be 10 minute walk-throughs as dictated by the agent; rather, they should be at your pace.  If this means 30 to 45 minutes, why not?

If someone could go even further and spend half of a day in a place, that could really make a huge difference in terms of noticing things that you might not otherwise catch.  Also, you can get a sense of whether or not the place just “fits” with you, if it is comfortable or not.

From the perspective of a seller, I think it might not be as great, but it could still be a good opportunity to close the deal to a seller who’s really interested and working through a final decision.

Considering that many people will search through online reviews for phones, gadgets, and other lesser expenses – it makes sense that much more time and attention should be put toward making a decision on a home.  This is something people have to (usually) borrow money to purchase.  Given that I’m an advocate of eliminating mortgage debt from one’s balance sheet,  I think this seems like an interesting concept!

My Questions for You

If you have purchased a condo or house, how much time did you spend looking at it before coming up with a final decision?

What do you think of the notion of getting a bigger block of time to comfortably spend time in a place, like 12 hours?

Why do you think it is that some people will spend so much time analyzing smaller purchases, but will give proportionately less time to some bigger ticket items?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

SavvyFinancialLatina November 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm

I would love to spend 12 hours at the house we use! It would be great. Hoteling before purchasing. I think the real estate industry is extremely confusing to trick people into buying things they shouldn’t. We consider ourselves pretty smart people and we are still baffled by all the real estate and mortgage terms and conditions.

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TTMK November 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Good point SFL, in that even bright folks don’t always get everything associated with buying a home. Thus, it helps to have to have time assessing the purchase and really thinking about what you’ll need to spend money on and whether or not you’re buying simply based on emotion/first impressions.

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Emily @ evolvingPF November 4, 2013 at 8:18 pm

My parents rented their first house before they purchased it from the owners… That’s a real test drive!

Considering how terribly I’ve evaluated our last two rentals during our tours (I overlooked that there was no pantry – twice!), I definitely want to spend serious time in a house before I buy it. I need to notice everything! Although, at least with a purchase we might be able to change the things that we don’t like – with a rental, we’re stuck.

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TTMK November 5, 2013 at 11:14 am

Well, the great news is that you have made this mistake when renting as opposed to buying. Thus, when you buy (and when it really counts) you’ll be aware of the pitfalls of not carefully evaluating a place. My guess is that you’ll do a great job evaluating a purchase. Speaking of renting, I suppose rent to own would be a good way to accomplish this as well.

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Little House November 5, 2013 at 8:59 am

I think it’s a great idea. Unfortunately where I live, properties often have multiple buyers fighting over the house, so I don’t think this will fly for now. But the renting before buying might be something I’d look into.

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TTMK November 5, 2013 at 11:15 am

Little House – good point, this might be less applicable to areas where it’s truly a big-time seller’s market. As you said, if renting before buying is an option, that could work too.

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thepotatohead November 5, 2013 at 11:17 pm

I think that would be awesome, and makes total sense since often your home is the biggest financial purchase you will ever make. Definitely would make more sense to do it this way then to do multiple 10-15 minute tours.

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