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Why not test drive a home?

By Polyana da Costa ·
Friday, May 6, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

You would never buy a car without a test drive. Apply the same concept to home buying and you may get a free stay.

A Florida homebuilder is inviting potential buyers stay in one of their furnished newly built homes and for two nights and three days for $99.

It sounds like those timeshare deals in which they offer you a free stay and in exchange you are required to sit through a presentation and speak with a pushy salesperson.

But Jill DiDonna, vice president of sales and marketing at GL Homes, says there is no catch here.

You are not required to speak with any salesperson, unless you request an appointment with one, she says.

And how do you show you are a potential buyer? You just say it. You don't have to prove you can afford a home to stay in the homes, according to DiDonna.

Yes, many people are just looking for freebies, she says, but some end up buying.

About 1,100 people have taken advantage of the offer since the initiative was launched a year ago, DiDonna says. About 17 percent of the potential buyers purchased a home after their stay.

Whether you view this as a creative marketing strategy or an act of desperation by builders, it may be an opportunity to test a home before you buy it or just go on a cheap vacation.

The practice is used by other home builders, she says.

"The real estate market has been tough and we are always looking for ways to generate sales," she says.

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May 20, 2011 at 11:27 am

How do I contact Jill DeDonna of GL homes above to take advantage of the test drive? (I do not want to do so by tweet or FB) Thank you.