WASHINGTON (TheStreet) — Now that popular tax credits for homebuyers have expired, sellers and realtors are offering free appliance upgrades and $8,000 incentives to keep buyers from putting off home purchases.
The first-time homebuyer tax credit offered up to $8,000 for first-time buyers who entered into a binding contract by April 30, and up to $6,500 to homeowners who upgraded to nicer homes. The incentive, which began last year, helped ease the property market's painful decline. Now that the credits have expired, real estate companies are offering their own incentives for buyers and sellers, some equal to the value of the tax credit.
Through June 30, Century 21 is running "The $8,000 List Your Home Sweepstakes," giving sellers who list their homes with the real estate company a shot at winning $8,000. Twenty-one prizes will be awarded, one per month for seven geographic zones.
Other realtors are encouraging sellers to offer their own credits to woo buyers off the fence. Courtney Snyder, a Coldwell Banker realtor who serves Greater Boston, has been suggesting that sellers offer a credit toward the buyer's closing price, making the deal contingent on a sale."It incentivizes a buyer to get an offer in," she says. "It's like a price adjustment that gives the buyer a little bit of control."
Coldwell Banker has formalized that strategy companywide. On May 1, the company launched the Buyer Bonus Sales Event, a campaign in which participating sellers offer a 3% credit on a home's purchase price — up to $8,000 — for buyers who sign a contract before July 31. The sellers take the hit, but they receive yard signs tagging them as participants, promotion on the realtor's Web site and the benefit of a national TV advertising campaign publicizing the event.
In condominium complexes, which are often the residences of choice for first-time buyers, developers have been adding free appliance upgrades and discounts on closing costs and condo fees, says Dave Liniger, chairman and co-founder of the real estate giant Re/Max International in Denver. And in some small towns and cities, realtors are persuading local businesses and shops to offer discounts to new residents.