What these Melbourne apartments and a car have in common

You can test drive a car before you buy it and try on a piece of clothing before you hand over your hard earned cash. Now there is a growing trend for potential homeowners to try before they sign on the dotted line.

Given buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make, it makes sense to offer buyers an opportunity to spend some time in a property before they commit to a mortgage. Ben Christie, head of apartments at Lendlease, agrees.

Lendlease is offering customers the opportunity to test drive apartments in its recently completed Toorak Park development in Armadale.

As part of the offer, would-be buyers get to spend five nights in an apartment ??? from Wednesday to Monday ??? to see if they like it. All that is required is a $5000 holding deposit.

Mr Christie says the try before you buy concept provides "customers with a great opportunity to experience premium apartment living ... without committing to purchasing" and is particularly appealing to downsizers who may not have lived in apartments before, or at least, for a very long time.

"We want to give people the opportunity to understand how they could make the move to an apartment work for them," he says.

"Many of our customers want to stay in their local community, so providing a residential offer that's compatible with their tastes and lifestyle is what Toorak Park is all about."

Lendlease says more than 90 per cent of apartments in the controversial development, completed mid-year, have sold.

The 12-storey, 448-apartment development was the subject of widespread local opposition and a drawn out planning battle that ended in September 2013 when the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal against an earlier VCAT decision to approve the development on the Orrong Road site.

Though relatively new in Australia, the concept is becoming increasingly popular in many parts of Europe and America.

In the US, for example, the increasingly popular Realstir app plays matchmaker between serious homebuyers and eager sellers: interested parties can pay the current owner a fee to spend a night or two in their home before purchasing it.

In London, leading property agents say a growing number of sellers are placing their properties on both the sales and rental markets, allowing potential buyers to let a property before deciding if they wish to commit to purchasing it outright.

And in Europe, Dream Homes in Italy's "Try and Buy" scheme allows potential buyers to "spend a few days in the house of your dreams" and "discover first hand all the features of the property and its location" before snapping it up.

In 2015, Adelaide-based real estate agent Troy Sgarbossa offered homebuyers the opportunity to spend the night in a $1.9 million, four-level mansion in the Adelaide suburb of Craigburn Farm.

He said he came up with idea when he realised "there were so many features in the home and that no one who was genuinely interested would be able to see them all in a half hour open."

He'd like to see more homeowners, particularly at the upper end of the housing market, open up there homes to be "test driven" so potential buyers can experience "everything the house has to offer."

Meanwhile, Mr Christie believes the increase in apartment living could fuel the "try before you buy" trend here, particularly in our fast-growing capital cities.

"We certainly see value in inviting our customers to experience our products and the places that we create," he said.

This story What these Melbourne apartments and a car have in common first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.