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Test drive your next home





Are you shopping for a home but not sure if you're ready to make an offer on a property that's caught your eye? Some home sellers may be willing to let you spend a night or two at the property so you can feel confident with making an offer, says Kevin Lisota, a real estate agent in Seattle.

"You can actually try out your home before you buy it," he says.

Motivated sellers

"Test driving" a home is a trend gaining popularity in real estate markets across the country where sellers are motivated, including major metropolitan areas such as Seattle, Lisota says.

Motivated sellers hope that you will develop more of an emotional attachment when you spend time in their home and be more willing to make an offer, he says.

Most "try before you buy" arrangements are agreed to by sellers who have most likely vacated the property, so they wouldn't be as inconvenienced if a buyer spent several hours in the home, says Kimberly Dixon, a real estate agent in Houston.

In one case, it helped seal a deal.

Sealing the deal

"I had a buyer who was purchasing a home in Kent, Wash., that was located within a half mile of a fairly busy rail intersection. As the freight trains drive through the city, they sound their signals to alert car traffic. It was well known that quite a few freight trains passed by at night," Lisota says.

His buyers were concerned about being woken up by the freight trains, so the real estate agent got approval for them to spend a night to check out the sound for themselves, he says.

Spending the night convinced the buyer to make an offer, he says. "They were satisfied that the train noise in the night wasn't so bad after staying there," he says. "The buyer ended up purchasing, so all parties were happy."

'Sleep on It'

In recent years, HGTV featured a show, "Sleep on It," which focused on buyers who wanted to try out a home before deciding whether or not they should make an offer. Heath Suddleson was a home-shopping participant in an episode, where he and his family spent a night at a potential home in Maryland.

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