Vol 8 No. 16 - January 9, 2008

Incentives may get properties moving

By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer

We’ve all seen advertising on TV or in newspapers promising free dishes, 50 percent discounts and one day only sales aimed at potential buyers of everything from bank certificates of deposit to the family mini van. These types of incentives have a proven record of getting the attention of buyers and contributing to sales. Well, guess what? The real estate industry is starting to take a cue from the rest of the consumer world.

During the high-flying years of real estate, properties sold frequently the day they came on the market and sellers wouldn’t consider anything but full price or more. Those days are long gone, and builders, homeowners and real estate brokers are starting to offer some pretty interesting incentives to get their properties moving. If you’re selling your home, you might want to consider some of these buyer incentives to set your property apart from the others.

A major offer you can make to a buyer is, of course, real money, which can take several forms. Help with the down payment can go a long way in assisting either a first time buyer or one that is hard-pressed to come up with 10 or 20 percent of the purchase price. This is especially true now when lending institutions are taking a very close look at a buyer’s mortgage qualifications and may be requiring more down on a home. You could also offer to absorb some of the buyer’s closing costs which can run up to 7 percent of the loan amount.

Taking a tip from builders could also attract buyers to your home. Many of the local builders are offering to pay a portion of homeowner and condo association dues for the first year and/or a portion of property taxes. And since homeowner’s insurance is a real hot topic these days, acknowledging this by offering to pay the first year’s homeowner’s premium could also add some needed incentive.

Property defects, including dated kitchens and baths, as well as sparse landscaping, have always been a negotiating point in a real estate transaction. Conceding that your property may have some of these issues, and offering to correct them, or allowing a specific dollar figure for the buyer to correct them, could be just the incentive needed to bring everyone to the closing table. Home warranties have been around forever and are a nice little perk, but in this market they will probably not influence anyone. However, buy one anyway. It demonstrates to the buyer that you care about him. If you happen to have some unique home furnishings or works of art the buyer appears to have fallen in love with, make them part of the deal, you’re probably ready for new stuff anyway.

And, don’t forget the power of giving real estate brokers incentives to show your home. In a market that is overstocked, brokers can probably find dozens homes like yours to show. Make your home the one they want their buyers to get into by encouraging them with a higher selling agent commission or bonus, two weeks in your Colorado timeshare or a Caribbean cruise. My favorite agent bonus was a full length fur coat, but I guess that wouldn’t work in Florida. Check with your listing agent to make sure that any incentive you’re offering can be legally accepted by participating real estate agents.

I don’t think a set of dishes will help sell your property, but adding some creative incentives could. Actually, buy one get, one free might be the best way to get some the inventory off the market. It would certainly get everyone’s attention.


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