Buying a car is never easy for me because I over think it and tend to weight everything equally, fretting as much over the radio knobs as how the car actually drives.  “After all,” I tell myself gravely, “It’s a big chunk of change for a man to spend just to look at dopey radio knobs all day.”  Which is ridiculous because after the car is purchased I never think about those things again.  Likewise, when I bought a new smartphone I was quickly overwhelmed by all the choices and options.  Seeing me buckle under the pressure, my friend shrugged off the minutiae and declared, “You get used to whatever you have.”  It was a helpful reminder for people like me who can get over-fixated on the little things.

test-driving minimizes close encounters

Yet I’m not alone in this experience, as is shown by the rise of a similar trend in Real Estate.  U.S. News reported recently on the rise of homebuyers requesting a sleepover night in their prospective home.  The trend seems to have been sparked by HGTV’s show, “Sleep On It,” where homebuyers get to sleep in two different homes (with the seller’s approval) before they purchase one.  Just like taking the car out for a test drive, by staying overnight buyers can better decide if the kitchen feels right, whether there are noisy neighbors, if legions of cockroaches emerge at sundown, or whether alien abductions occur with any regularity.  Contract addendums could address these issues, of course, but as the saying goes, “Seeing is believing.”

One New York City man asked to take a shower in the $865,000 apartment he was buying, according to the U.S. News report.  He wanted to ensure the water pressure was right and frankly I can’t blame the guy.  Who wants to spend almost a million dollar for one of them wimpy showers that drools and dribbles all over you?  A man wants his shower to be like a fire hose, blasting away dirt with confidence and power.  On the flip side, the question also rises: if a man has a million dollars to spend can’t he afford to fix his water pressure?  At any rate, the seller in this case allowed the test shower on the condition that the buyer brings his own towel.

As with anything, test-driving a home has its potential pitfalls, like legal liability or even spending a night in jail.  One Colorado couple was engaged in a sleepover at a condominium complex when they decided to review the parking lot at night.  “As they exited the elevator, they were abruptly confronted by two police officers, weapons drawn,” said real estate professional Bob Gordon, who was interviewed in the U.S. News article.  Unsuspecting neighbors had pegged the couple as thieves.  Almost as soon as police dropped their weapons, however, the couple made an offer on the home, tickled there were such watchful neighbors.

While test-driving a home has its complications, test-driving your mortgage loan officer is both easy and wise.  The mortgage is a huge financial decision, so don’t scramble for a lender at the last minute.  Call and consult with one (or more) well in advance.  Request a referral from someone you trust and then make a careful assessment of the loan officer’s experience and demeanor.  Do they demonstrate character to consider your interests above their own?  Do they display the management skills necessary to navigate a loan through the maze of underwriting and closing?   Read reviews about them, and ask if they have the ability to compare pricing against multiple lenders.  In this way, you can ensure that you won’t get stuck with a loan officer lemon, but instead find a trusted partner who will have your financial back for years to come.