Should property buyers be allowed to try before they buy

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 | by Ed Mead

If you Google “test drive your property” or similar it’s extraordinary that no one seems to offer this service, at all. Indeed it’s simply accepted that you’re going to buy a place you could spend the rest of your life in on the basis that you’ve seen it a couple of times, amazing. With a TV, car etc. you can take it back if it doesn’t work, mildly ironic given that property details are now carrying a huge EPC and your purchase is now subject to the same consumer protection legislation as other FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods to you and me).

Not sure what one can do about this. Should insurance companies start to write policies allowing prospective buyers to test out a new pad. What are the risks; that someone will become a serial tester, or won’t move out – well, surely some kind of deposit, or indeed the cost of the insurance policy itself, might deter those seeking cheap accommodation and if written correctly the paperwork should allow immediate repossession.

I’ve had this happen only once, and that was for a big flat in Onslow Square in South Ken that was on the corner of a main road. Quite rightly the buyer was worried about noise and would only fork £2m if they could spend the night and check. The seller eventually allowed this and from what I can gather it was successful as they bought the place. Otherwise no one has ever even asked about this, not even in a new development where perhaps the owners have less hassle and no neighbours to worry about.

Being staggeringly reserved I’m not sure the British would ever cave into this but in this new era where selling isn’t as easy as it was should this be a service sellers offer.