For most buyers, thoroughly vetting a house includes opening every cabinet, driving by the neighborhood at different times of the day and night, and getting a thorough home inspection. But if a buyer close to making an offer asked to spend the night in your house, would you accommodate the request?
Well, maybe you should. Although extreme, this “try before you buy” approach can show some positive results.
The idea first took shape among buyers considering planned communities and luxury properties.
Bob Kanjian, director of sales at AV Homes, says the two 55-plus communities he sells properties in give prospective buyers the opportunity to pay a reasonable rate to stay a few nights and test-drive the community. And it works: A third of the people who participate in the sleepover showings end up purchasing a home in the community, a rate three times higher than potential buyers who don’t spend the night.
Sellers of luxury properties have also been known to cater to genuine buyers who request an overnight stay.
“On the rare occasions that I do see a request for an extended showing, the situation often involves a very high-end property and an international buyer who is trying to get a feel for the entire community as much as the home,” says Bruce Elliott, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.
Part of the reason it’s relatively rare is that there are significant liability issues involved.
“With any type of sleepover showing, it’s advisable to prescreen buyers to ensure they have the financial wherewithal to purchase the property, to ensure the appropriate insurance policies are in place, and to have both parties sign a protective waiver,” Elliott says.
Still, should you get your place ready for a serious-buyer sleepover? Let’s weigh the pros and cons for the everyday seller.
Why sellers should consider sleepover showings
There are a number of things buyers can learn from spending 24 hours in a property that they wouldn’t pick up on during the day. An overnight stay would allow them to test-drive all of the amenities in your home—from the dishwasher to the rain shower in the master bath.
Concerns about night noise from roads, neighbors, or other potential sleep disruptions nearby could all be addressed during an overnight stay.
An extended showing would also allow the buyers to check out not just the home itself but also the community at large. Potential buyers could walk to a nearby park, explore the local restaurants and cafes, and experience the morning traffic.
Disadvantages of a sleepover showing
Unless there is some pressing concern that can’t be addressed in any other way, sellers may balk at a buyer’s request for an extended showing of their home. It can be a hassle to prepare the home for strangers (e.g., stashing your valuables and cleaning everything) and find a place for them to stay the night.
Allowing potential buyers to occupy your place will also cut into the number of days the home is on the market. And the more time your listing spends on the market, the less desirable it looks to typical buyers.
“Days on market is key. If you allow someone to spend the night for 24 or 48 hours, you’re limiting the exposure to other buyers,” says Dillar Schwartz, a Realtor in Austin, TX.
How do you make a sleepover showing work in your favor?
You don’t want to let just anyone spend the night in your home, so how do you make sure the test drive goes as smooth as possible?
According to Elliott, potential buyers should prove that they are serious about buying your home and have no problem signing a waiver that protects you from any liability. It’s also reasonable to ask the buyer to pay a deposit to cover potential damages.
If you’d prefer buyers to pay for their stay, the local Airbnb or VRBO rates can help you determine a reasonable price per night. Even better, if your sellers have been an Airbnb host in the past, they might be willing to go through the service again to rent you their home for a night.
Since sleepover showings are a relatively new thing, there is not really a standard procedure for setting one up. The details all depend on your comfort level, the advice of your lawyer or real estate agent about liability issues, and how far you’re willing to go to cater to a buyer.
Still, buyers make unusual requests all the time. If a sleepover is the only way to put an earnest buyer’s mind at ease, it might be worth it to put fresh sheets on the master bed and allow the sleepover in your home.