Why taking a home for a 'test drive' is illogical?

by Alistair Helm in


Logically the idea of taking a new home for a 'test drive' always appealed to me despite the ensuing issues of security, privacy and logistics. After all you wouldn't put down $30,000 to buy a car without an extensive test drive which for many new cars is at least overnight, so why wouldn't you expect to at least try out a house you fancy buying for a couple of days - right? That was my view when I wrote this blog post in 2008 when I had seen such an initiative in the UK.

But recently I came across this video news article from Yahoo Finance in the US about a New York Realtor who had offered prospective buyers the chance to spend 12 hours in an apartment she had listed so they could take it for a 'test drive' .


Watching the video was enlightening, if you can see beyond the slick scripting of the presenter; for it provided for me a very powerful insight into the psychology of home buying.

Admittedly based on a sample of one, the comments of the prospective buyer were so insightful. These were his comments based on first impressions (before he spent 12 hrs in the property): 

  • "loved the apartment"
  • "great sense of energy"
  • "great storage space"
  • "lovely sunny southern aspect"
  • "great location"
  • "emerging area"

"Overall a really good feeling for the property"

Yet he decided not to proceed with the property because of these issues: 

"light switch in the bathroom not meeting code" & "no central heating" 

This says so much about the process of property buying. That initial impression or impressions gained via the walk through when the property was open for inspection speak directly to the features and benefits of the property that appeal to the buyer - location, aspect, facilities, amenities - these are the drivers of property buying. Contrast that with the negatives - suspect wiring and a broken heating system! Spending even a couple of hundred dollars could have solved this and yet these relatively small items played such an important and in the end critical part in the decision making process.

So for me this tells us heaps about marketing property for sale. Buying property is about the heart - an article I wrote last year reinforces this "Blink and you've bought a house". The little things can effect decision making - fix broken appliances! but more importantly present the house to really play to the emotional triggers. 

Don't even think about letting people go for a test drive - it's neither necessary nor beneficial, not because you are hiding things, its more about the impact that time plays in letting the logical brain start to overrule the emotional brain. This of course assumes you are buying a property because you want to live in it and enjoy the life it can offer you.