Have you ever thought about buying a home but are not sure whether it is worth splashing the cash?
Perhaps there are worries over unruly neighbours, bad traffic or the property simply not being the right fit.
One new online platform is hoping to change all that by allowing prospective buyers to stay in a home listed for sale before they hand over a hefty deposit and go through with the purchase.
Potential Pads, based in Wales, allows interested buyers to try out their future home for a night, week or even a month before taking the plunge, much like test driving a car.
One of the homes where the owner is willing to let people try before they buy on Potential Pads
Currently, many of the homes on the website are mansions worth millions.
When forking out such a large amount of money, it could be handy for potential buyers to get a taste for the place first.
It works by letting the potential buyer and seller communicate easily to facilitate a try before you buy scenario, with the website operating similarly to AirBnB.
According to the firm, the idea is to allow those staying to not only get a feel for the property itself but also the local area, schools and potential commute.
Although the company is for properties worldwide, currently on the website, there are only five properties up for sale, four of which are based in England.
Most are on the luxury end, with one valued at £22million, one £6million and another for £8million.
This suggests that the site will be used primarily for more expensive properties where prospective buyers can make sure they are happy to splash the cash, although there is one home listed for a smaller sum of £600,000.
One of the properties advertised, listed for £22million, is based near Knutsford, Cheshire, is currently looking for potential buyers to spend £4,500 a night on a trial fee – a sizable sum.
However, those who then decide to buy the property after staying will get 50 per cent of that amount back via the websites incentive scheme – which the seller can choose to include or not.
There are no properties currently available for renting on the site, while it remains to be seen if homes valued at closer to national average will appear in the next year.
Cost: Potential Pads take a 15% fee from the total amount the potential buyers pay to stay
Lynne Maplanka, founder and director of Potential Pads, came up with the idea after working in a local hotel.
She said: ‘I began to notice a pattern of people checking in for a couple of days just to view properties in the hope of relocating.
‘Most guests made the viewing trips at least twice and still did not settle on a property.
It is a platform that helps weed out the time wasters and is an incentive that speeds up the selling process of a property, all the while making money for the seller before the property has to be sold.
Lynne Maplanka – Potential Pads
‘They mentioned that the viewings felt rushed and that they felt they had to cram as many viewings as they could in one trip.
‘I thought to myself, “If home buyers can pay to stay in a hotel, why wouldn’t they pay to test drive their future home?”’
So far, the firm has seen 82 trials arranged through Potential Pads, most of which have been private clients.
However, these clients were part of a free trial period to see how viable the business concept could be worldwide.
Over half of the properties sold within the trial period were bought by customers who had trialed them via Potential Pads before committing to the purchase, suggesting the concept could work.
This is Money decided to take a more in depth look into how Potential Pads works for both buyers and sellers.
How does it work for sellers?
Sellers can register an account with Potential Pads for free using their personal email or Facebook account.
Once registered, they can upload the property they are looking to sell onto the platform for free.
It is then up to the seller to decide how much they wish to charge for the trial price per night – Potential Pads recommends that the seller sets a trial fee that will reflect the value of their property.
The seller also has control of the dates available for the trial, whether that means letting out their entire property or just a room in their home on a bed and breakfast basis.
It is their responsibility to make sure that all the information they provide about their property is accurate to their knowledge.
They must also ensure they speak to their current insurance provider to request an upgrade to cover them for short lets or B&B purposes.
The £22million home that is currently being advertised on the Property Pads website
The site also comes equipped with an incentive button which allows sellers to set the percentage of the amount they are willing to return to the buyer if they commit to buy.
This is aside from a 15 per cent fee that Potential Pads take from the trial figure paid.
The incentive button is designed to give the buyer motivation to try a home out, knowing that they will get money back once they commit to buy.
There is also a a verification option on the site, which although optional, is recommended.
The site requires a government approved photo ID to be uploaded on the profile as well as a profile image of the individual on the ID.
Potential Pads stresses that it does not take a fee or commission for the sale of the property.
Maplanka added: ‘Potential Pads is an added feature to help sell the property in this changing market. It is not an estate agency but a tool that can be used by estate agencies worldwide.
‘It is a platform that helps weed out the time wasters and is an incentive that speeds up the selling process of a property, all the while making money for the seller before the property has to be sold.’
How does it work for buyers?
Buyers register the same way as sellers. Once they are signed up, they can browse through properties and make a booking for their trial.
Potential buyers choose the property they like, select the dates they wish to stay as well as their length of stay and then make a payment online.
We try on a dress before we buy it, test drive a car and even get to sample wine before purchasing the whole bottle at a restaurant. Why not try before you buy that future property?
Lynne Maplanka – Potential Pads
Potential Pads keep the funds until the buyer checks into their trial pad. The firm releases the funds to the seller 24 hours after check in and after it has taken its 15 per cent fee.
Some sellers may require a deposit and a cancellation fee may apply in case buyers fail to leave the property in the same condition as they found it in.
Buyers can message sellers on the platform and it is advised that they keep all communication on the platform so there is a digital trail should anything go wrong.
Maplanka said: ‘We try on a dress before we buy it, test drive a car and even get to sample wine before purchasing the whole bottle at a restaurant.
‘So, why not try before you buy that future property as most individuals will be parting with a lot of money?
‘This concept may not be ideal for everyone but we hope that it will be the future of buying and selling property.’
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