You’re no dummy. You peruse the local newspapers and pore over real estate websites. Then there’s the TV news, always rife with reports about a bleak real estate market. And it’s hard to miss the plethora of For Sale signs—very few of which have the words “Under Contract” tacked onto the front.
So you figured you knew what you were getting into when you put your house on the market last year: a long slog.
But you optimistically planted some flowers, pruned the trees and replaced your front door. The once-red dining room walls are now a neutral shade, and you’ve made several trips to the landfill in an attempt to de-clutter the joint. Heck, you even shelled out a few hundred bucks for a “stager,” who deep-sixed an expensive rug in order to better show off your home’s hardwood floors.
Still, it’s been close to a year, with nary a decent offer. You just dropped the asking price—for the second time. Now you’re wondering if it’s time to sweeten the pot even more by throwing in an incentive or two.
Beth Monaco, an agent with Roy Wheeler Realty Company, isn’t so sure. She says items such as vacations and club memberships “are bonuses, but when it comes down to it, purchasing a property is a huge decision, and football tickets won’t be the deciding factor.”
Sure, if a buyer is looking at, say, two similar condos and one seller is offering a “pricey bonus,” such as a car, a trip or a high-definition TV, that may help sway them, Monaco says, but the bottom line is “there is no sense of urgency to purchase now because [buyers] have so many choices.”
Since the stakes are higher these days, and upgrades such as granite countertops and Wolf stoves aren’t the enticements they once were, it might not hurt to throw in association dues for a year or a summer’s worth of free pool service. Problem is, more and more folks have caught onto the allure of dangling goodies before home shoppers, so that Caribbean cruise you’re offering may not hold the appeal it did a year ago.
“Buyers are being told that it’s a buyer’s market,” says Monaco, which means not only have some come to expect sellers to pick up closing costs or pay annual property taxes, they also “think they can offer significantly less than asking price, regardless if [a house] is fairly priced.”
Then there are those who have absolutely no interest in your family room furniture or a year’s lease on a car. They’re after something much more basic: a place to call home. And odds are good that they’ll know within minutes of entering your place if it’s right for them—and a trip to Italy probably won’t convince them one way or the other.
According to Monaco, people are “taking more time in making their decision to make an offer; making home decisions with their minds instead of their hearts.” She considers this a “luxury buyers have now that they didn’t have several years ago when houses would go under contract a day or two after going on the market.”
Bottom line? Offer an incentive if you want; it can’t hurt. By throwing in the patio furniture and a decorating allowance there’s always the chance you can turn “We’ll think about it” into “We’ll take it.” But don’t go beyond your comfort zone, financially or emotionally. And don’t expect an incentive to draw hordes of buyers—you’ll have to wait for the next seller’s market for that.