Agent Provocateur: In the Airbnb age, should agents encourage buyers to ‘test drive’ homes?

I see that John Lewis are planning on offering test rides for mattresses in a specially adapted area of their stores, presumably within a mock-up flat.

I can’t remember what the recommended [presumably by the mattress industry] ratio of income to mattress spend is, but it’s higher than you might think and given how much of our lives are spent kipping, quality is important.

Hence spending anything up to £10k on one makes a test drive quite relevant, really.

It reminds me of a time back in the late 90s when I was selling a flat in South Kensington. Lovely flat in a beautiful building on a busy road, and many had looked but none were buying.

A young couple in the music business fancied the flat, they were image conscious – why else would you be living in South Ken – but didn’t want mates coming to the flat taking the p*** if the flat was too noisy.

Standing in the flat it was clear there WAS some noise and I don’t know what came over me, a large commission probably, but I suddenly said: “How about if I persuade the owner to let you stay the night in the flat to check it out for yourself?”

Before I could close my mouth Jerry said “Yup, you’re on”.

A feeling of panic ensued BUT the flat had been furnished beautifully by a forward thinking developer and so the ‘risks’ were somewhat ameliorated – but it would still be a first for both of us, I suspect.

Luckily the seller was all for it, could see the benefits and agreed to allow the couple to spend the night.

There was a little legal preparation, mostly around them having a short-term licence to occupy, but it proved a winning move as they did buy.

I’m sure that this has happened before but it never ceases to amaze me that more don’t ask, and it reminds me that the public have got used to doing things a certain way, but not for long, I suspect.

There’s a new generation coming and I’d love to find out if such ‘test drives’ are becoming more commonplace: with the advent of Airbnb and short stays it can’t be difficult to organise.

One argument against is that it damages any shiny new finish, but ‘one night only’ offers might tempt a whole load of new people to try an area or property type they wouldn’t have before – and perhaps gain some valuable PR?


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  1. mrtickle

    Good intentions, but my main issue is that it adds yet another step to the buying process. Buyers want less to think about and this means more paperwork and decisions.

    Cute for the odd deal, but not a long term solution to any common issues with buying a home.

    I like it in principle, but I won’t be investing. I’m out.

  2. gk1uk2001

    Not really practical though when 95%+ of the properties we sell are owner occupied and fully furnished. Hardly think vendors will be willing to remove all personal belongings and valuables (and kids clothes, toys etc if applicable) to allow complete strangers to stay unaccompanied in their home. I know I wouldn’t be willing to do it. May work on new homes with developers furnishings in there but not on ‘second hand’ properties with vendors valuables and belongings in there..


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