An old friend came into the office today to show me the Tuesday Wall Street Journal (www.wallstreetjournal.com) article he had found about creative home selling. There were several examples of incentives offered by owners:
Austin, Texas - Buy the house, get a $50,000 Porsche Boxster for free! Of course the list price is two million....
Phoenix, Arizona - Buy the house, get a pool, patio and professional grill installed prior to closing. Don't want them? - take $100,000 off the price of 1.5 million. "The market is so bad, it's hard to get people to even take a look at the area right now."
LaHabra California - Buy the house, get free yardwork for 6 months, a washer/dryer, flatscreen tvs and all furnishings (maybe). "Saving people a little time is pretty attractive."
New York, New York - Buy the house (or condo), get 10 personal-training sessions, a $500 American Express gift card, or a romantic getaway to an inn upstate, or a free bike for a place near Prospect Park. "...we wanted to be attractive, special amd sexy."
Scottsdale, Arizona - Buy the house, and get free solar panels that will cut electric consumption by 60%. "We have seen a greater sensitivity to monthly payments...A big concession like a $20,000 discount is less impressive than these sorts of incentives."
Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Sell (as in real estate agent) the house, get an all-expense-paid-trip for two to France. Yes, 300-400 people then saw the house, but it only sold after the price dropped from $7.4M to $6.3 million.
The reason my old friend took the time to drop in at the office was because we had a similar adventure two years ago. In November of 2006 we put together a list of incentives to sell his home at 72 Jordan Street in Skaneateles. The list price was around $650,000 at the time, having started at $699,000. We added to that 20 antiques the owners had accumulated over the years, a John Deere tractor, huge European Christmas ornaments for the pine trees in front, and by far the most exciting part - two round trip first-class airline tickets to anywhere in the world.
We got noticed. Above the fold of the November 16th Post-Standard in brilliant color was the picture I'd taken of this beautiful home. The headline read: "Motivated sellers throw in more than the kitchen sink". I am quoted as saying, "We wanted to create some sort of buzz."
"Advertising like that you can't buy!" I heard everywhere I turned. The owner and I were invited on to a local radio show to talk about what we were doing and why. I got to plug my open house that I'd scheduled for that Sunday (by sheer coincidence - ha!)
But did we sell it? Yes, after we removed the incentives and lowered the price a bit more. The owners kept their John Deere and are enjoying their new home. But while it didn't work for us, I do believe that the effort and the creativity counted for something somewhere. If only in our strategizing and the attention we paid to the process. And who knows? Maybe the buyers heard about the house because of our efforts!