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Incentives on existing homes
While builder-incentive programs have attracted the most attention, developers aren't the only ones to offer inducements.

More home sellers today are also including tempting freebies that go well beyond the usual appliances, fixtures and window treatments. Typical incentives can include assisting a buyer with closing costs (plus taxes and insurance payments), paying points, covering homeowners' association fees for a year or more or selling the home with a comprehensive warranty.

Of course, some sellers will likely have to be more creative and generous if they're trying to move a property in an especially tough market.

NAR's Stevens, for example, is now in the process of selling his old home in Great Falls, Va. "My house, unfortunately, has been on the market for a while now. The house across the street from mine has also been put up for sale ... and it, too, has just been sitting there like mine. Now I understand that they, my competition, have put a brand new $60,000 Mercedes in their garage, which they're giving away with that home. So, I'm now wondering what I should do. Do I have to buy a new car, a new Mercedes, too, just to sell my house?"

Not all communities allow existing homeowners to sell a house with such additional perks and goodies. In fact, in some places, such incentives might be downright illegal.

"And then, if you're a reseller, your only real option is to price your house in a way that will sell, which is in itself an incentive," says Ransier. "Today, it's especially important to deal with an experienced, full-service Realtor who remembers what it's like to deal with a market that's experienced a downturn because now, in a changed market, it's critical to price your home realistically and not based on what it might have been listed at or selling for six months ago."

Look beyond the shiny baubles
Although the promotions and buyer incentives are definitely out there, savvy consumers will come to realize that some are considerably better than others.

"When you're out looking for a home, well, you probably already own a car and, in the end, you're not out trying to get a car, you are trying to get a home," Stevens says. Nevertheless, incentives can make a lot of sense, he adds. "These things represent genuine, real savings that you otherwise would not have gotten a year ago had you tried to buy that very same home."

But if you aren't quite yet ready to make a home-buying decision right now, you probably need not fear missing out on today's generous deals.

"This whole thing with incentives is really just starting now, so there's no telling what types of very creative marketing offers we're going to see in the next couple of years," says McCabe.'s corrections policy -- Posted: Aug. 24, 2006
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