Incentives can help attract buyers to your home

Banks and credit card companies have long sought to lure new customers by offering gifts, deals, and freebies for starting an account. Deposit enough money in your checking account, get some tickets to a baseball game. Spend enough money on your credit card within a few months and you're looking at bonus travel points or a couple of free nights in a hotel room.

Real estate agents have found these incentives to be useful as well. A Realtor in Pennsylvania promised a free pizza with the purchase of a home; another agent in Texas was willing to give away $250 in tacos to whoever made a property their next home.

Other sellers have appealed to buyers through their wallets instead of their stomach, providing certain financial benefits to go along with the purchase. But there's plenty of room for creativity when looking to attract buyers

Money matters

The price of the home and the cost of various services related to the purchase will usually be negotiated before the sale closes. In general, the buyer is expected to cover any contingencies they include with their offer, including an appraisal and home inspection.

One popular way for homeowners to attract buyers is to cover the closing costs, or at least offer a credit towards them. Tara-Nicholle Nelson, writing for Forbes, says buyers will already be burdened by a hefty down payment and other expenses. Helping to defray the closing costs involved in the purchase can instantly improve your property's appeal.

Buyers may also be attracted by an offer to buy down their interest rate. Brendon DeSimone, writing for the real estate site Zillow, says buyers who purchase points on their mortgage can pay a certain percentage of the loan to reduce their mortgage interest rate. Sellers who offer to buy a point or two can guarantee that the buyer will save a considerable amount of interest over the life of the loan. While rates have been historically low for several years, they have recently been climbing again, making this option more attractive.

Some homeowners have offered to help with the cost of utilities for a certain amount of time after purchase. Margaret Heidenry, writing for Realtor.com, gives the example of a seller who was willing to pay half of the buyer's utility bills for their first two months in the residence. If your home is particularly efficient, this offer may be used to back up a listing's claims of low energy costs.

When a property is part of a homeowners' association, the buyer will have to prepare for these expenses. Nelson says sellers can offer to cover these dues for a certain amount of time after the purchase. Many homeowners opt to cover the first six months of the new owner's dues, if not the first year.

While it doesn't specifically benefit the buyer, another incentive is to include a bonus to add to the commission of the buyer's agent or broker. Agents who are interested in getting some extra cash will be more likely to recommend the property to their clients, helping it stand out more.

Throw it in

Moving is always a hassle. One way to save yourself some strain, and potentially increase the appeal of your home, is to be negotiable on what will stay with the residence.

This offer can be particularly helpful for first-time buyers or others who will need to furnish the home once they own it. DeSimone says homeowners buy furniture that will go well with a property's design, saving buyers the trouble of picking out the perfect sofa or chair. Sellers may also be looking to get rid of some furniture if they are downsizing to a smaller home. By offering to include certain pieces of furniture, you can make moving easier while also appealing to buyers.

In addition to furniture, drapes and other window coverings might be included in the sale. Chandeliers and other impressive fixtures might also prove attractive to buyers if you're willing to leave them behind.

Including furnishings or other helpful items can help your home stand out from similar properties in the neighborhood. G.M. Filisko, writing for the home improvement site HouseLogic, says that if most nearby residences have similar patios, you can make your listing more enticing by saying you'll throw in the grill or patio set.

Another popular incentive is a home warranty. This policy can help assure buyers that they won't be on the hook if they encounter an unexpected problem within a certain amount of time after their purchase, such as leaking plumbing or a broken refrigerator.

Perks

You'll want to be careful when offering more creative incentives. Buyers might easily dismiss them as publicity stunts or efforts to justify an inflated asking price.

However, these perks can also be a way to either compensate for a home's flaws or highlight its benefits. For example, you may offer a credit towards replacing outdated appliances or improving the landscaping. Michele Lerner, also writing for Realtor.com, says waterfront homeowners might include a kayak or fishing equipment with the sale.

Some incentives can invite buyers to check out nearby amenities. You might throw in a free membership to a nearby country club, or a membership to a popular gym in the area.

Sellers in upscale markets might wish to take it a step further. Heidenry says luxury homeowners have sometimes attracted attention—and offers—by saying they'll include a car or a credit to a dealership.

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments