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Rent to Buy 2.0: Reimagining the “Rent-to-Own” Model of Homebuying 

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With Airbnb now a major player in the real estate world, many rental properties are up for sale. This presents a unique opportunity for potential buyers to stay in a home and determine whether it’s truly right for them.

You’ve heard of test drives, but what about test-stays?

As a vacation rental management company, we at Open Air Homes oversee several rental properties with owners who are open to selling. This creates a unique gray area: extremely well-maintained homes that are ready for purchase but aren’t explicitly for sale.

That’s where our brokerage, Open Air Real Estate (Open AiRE) comes in: Those looking to purchase a home can “test-run” homes by staying in them as a short or mid-term rental. We call this “Rent to Buy 2.0.”

The idea behind Open AiRE is simple: give people a chance to try something before they buy it.

Purchasing a Former Vacation Rental: The Future of Real Estate?

Purchasing a home is one of the most important decisions anyone will make in their lives. However, in the highly competitive real estate market of the past 10 years, consumers often feel pressure to act fast for fear of losing out on a home. Rushed decisions can lead to a slew of issues, including a realization that the home and area aren’t actually a good fit. 

But now that the real estate market is cooling, what if there were another way to become acquainted with a home and its features before buying it in the best possible condition?

We believe that the future of home buying could be different, with comfortable alternatives to typical listing channels. Staying in a home for an extended period of time is the best way to determine whether a home is right for you. 

The Problem With Purchasing a Home Too Quickly 

The typical way to buy a home is to attend an open house, tour the home with a group, and have a real estate agent ask if you’re interested in buying. You may spend an hour in the home. A second showing may come next, followed by a nighttime showing. You’re then typically asked to decide immediately whether you’d like to make an offer. Granted, there are other interested buyers, so you must decide quickly, or you could lose out. 

However, purchasing a home too quickly can come with a slew of issues: 

  • You may miss critical information about the home – When purchasing a home in a hurry, buyers may opt to waive the inspection. Serious health and safety hazards like faulty wiring or mold could be overlooked in this case.
  • The area could be a bad fit for your lifestyle – Family environment, traffic patterns, and seasonal peaks are all difficult to grasp at an open house. Gyms, groceries, and parks are also crucial details that are worth experiencing firsthand over time.
  • The home itself could be a bad fit – All homes have quirks. The key is to find a home whose quirks appeal to you or can be easily adjusted. Things like a too-cramped kitchen or a drastic change in lighting at certain times of day can become annoyances later down the line. 

There is no shortage of home-buying horror stories online – rushing such a monumental decision can often have dire consequences.

Staying Like a Local Prior to Purchase

As we enter a buyer’s market, a radically different approach that puts buyers in the driver’s seat may be plausible. That approach involves spending a considerable amount of time in a home, as opposed to the few hours total that is typical before buying. 

With the emergence of Airbnb and the popularity of short-term rentals, there are now a number of investment properties that have been rentals for several years. If property management is properly maintaining, inspecting, and updating the home, it’s ideally in excellent condition. After all, we are in a review-driven industry, and property managers are obligated to keep homes in tip-top shape.

What we see coming in real estate is an entirely new way to purchase a home. This alternative involves spending a week or a Month+ in a home before making an offer. 

When you tour a home for a collective four hours, it’s easy to forget small details that could make you fall in love with a home. For example: 

  • How the light shines through various areas of the home over the course of a day. 
  • Finding your absolute favorite spot to curl up with a book.
  • Sunrise and sunsets in the home.
  • Your favorite streets or areas within the neighborhood to walk pets, grab a coffee, or have a quick bite.
  • The best way to commute or space to work from home.
  • Neighbors, community, and building connections you can truly feel after staying in a home for an extended period.

Now that we are entering a down market, along with the emergence of short-term rentals, real estate buyers now have the option to spend a much more considerable amount of time in a home to truly determine if they want to make an offer. 

Open Air Homes launched our sister company OpenAiRE Brokerage to handle this emerging facet of home buying. 

Test Drive a Home in its Best Condition 

We invite you to contact us to learn about homes available for rent. Choose one you love, spend a month or two in the home, and make a decision when you’re ready. 

Open Air Homes currently has two homes for sale using the traditional method.  

St. Ives

Guests of St Ives have fallen in love with it over the course of their 25-day stay, and are considering making an offer as we speak. Peaceful mornings in the backyard with the birds chirping may have won them over!

402 Brooks

402 Brooks has three bungalows on the property. We invite you to stay for a month or two to see if you truly fall in love during your stay. 

We invite you to stay at Surfside Sanctuary, use that time to hunt for other homes for comparison, and enjoy a seamless homebuying experience. 

Test Stays with Open AiRE

We have a number of other successful investment properties with homeowner partners open to selling. We have one beautiful property in Venice Beach with owners open to selling, with all of the furniture included. This home likely will not come to the market anytime soon but is available as a rental property for stays over a month long, and if you fall in love, our brokerage can offer assistance. 

Some of our homeowner partners are open to selling, but have no plans to put their homes on the market. If you’re ever interested in one of our homes, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at OpenAiRE



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