- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2006

When buyers gain leverage in a housing market, sellers must think outside of the box to entice buyers to their homes, then to lock in their asking price.

Here are 10 offers you can make to help sell your house, if not at your price, at least a little closer to it than what you might have gotten otherwise.

• Finished recreation room. You might be able to finish a rec room space for less than the buyer wants in a lower asking price. When you’re talking monthly payments, $50,000 in the mortgage amount would be $299.78 per month. By negotiating $50,000 in remodeling costs, the buyer could come up with more living space for less than the cost of a car payment.

• Decorating allowance. Is your decor tired, left over from the ‘80s or ‘90s? Offer cash for upgrades, new carpet and a paint job. With good bidding on the job, you might be able to keep your price and give the buyer what he wants. Many buyers would love $20,000 to spend the way they want on decorating.

• Mortgage payments for three to six months. How would you like to move into a house and make no payments for three to six months? On a $300,000 mortgage at 6 percent interest, the principal and interest payment is $1,798 per month. Over three months, the buyer would save $5,395; over six months, more than $10,791.

• Buy down points to lower the interest rate. For some buyers, it’s all about the monthly payment. Try coaxing them to your price with an offer to buy down the interest rates by paying points on the loan. If they can get the interest rate low enough, they will be able to carry a higher mortgage for a lower monthly payment because of your point money left at the table. This is a technique of “selling the deal” more than selling the house.

• Vacations. Buy a house, get a Caribbean cruise. Take some tips from new-home builders: They’re professionals at this incentive thing. Sometimes, a buyer might get cash back at the settlement table but wouldn’t dare spend it in a luxurious way. Offer a cruise, an expensive spa weekend, airline tickets to Asia or some other out-of-the-ordinary travel package to entice them. When you consider that the inventory has more than doubled in some markets, the only thing different from one house and another could be the cruise line.

• Free media room. Did you know that movie ticket sales are down for the third year in a row? One reason is the advent of the at-home, low-ticket-price media room. During the recent Christmas holidays, some media-room packages — complete with big-screen monitor and surround sound systems — were selling for less than $5,000. This one investment alone could be the sweetener your buyer needs to sign the bottom line.

• A year’s worth of HOA fees. Looking for a more practical buyer benefit? How about relieving them of those expensive homeowner association dues? Depending on the community, these fees could top out to more than $500 per month — that’s $6,000 a year. This offering could definitely help the cash-poor buyer get into his first condo.

• Seller financing. This option is overlooked by a lot of sellers because they or their Realtors just don’t think about it. Seller financing comes in several forms: a first trust, second trust or even 100 percent financing for the house. For the seller who can swing a first trust mortgage, this can actually become quite the cash cow. For instance, a $100,000 mortgage offered at 7 percent over five years with interest-only payments followed by a balloon payment of $100,000 would net the seller $135,000 over the life of the loan.

Not a bad return.

• Pay off bills. Some loan programs will allow sellers to pay off credit cards or auto loans for the buyer. It could make the difference in qualifying for the mortgage and having to buy a smaller, less expensive house. Again, maintain your asking price and offer to pay off debt for the buyer.

• Pay closing costs up to mortgage program limit. Here’s the old standby. It’s not as fancy as the previous suggestions, but it’s reliable and works very well.

M. Anthony Carr has written about real estate since 1989. He is the author of “Real Estate Investing Made Simple.” Post questions or comments at his Web log (https://commonsenserealestate.blogspot.com).


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