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Home sellers enhance buyer incentives

America's housing market has gone from robust to just plain bust in the past 18 months.

Real estate agents, home builders, mortgage lenders and anyone whose income is derived from home selling has been using words like "transitioning" and "stabilizing" to describe -- or perhaps spin -- the soft housing market that has slowed to the point of rigor mortis in some locales.

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These are the times that try the skills of real estate professionals, says Jim Crawford, a real estate coach in Atlanta.

"It's a buyer's market without buyers," he says. "Of the top 40 markets, 36 are down. In Atlanta at this time of year, we should have a maximum of 52,000 homes for sale; we have 114,000. What's happened is, if you can't sell in Chicago, you can't buy in Atlanta. If you can't sell in Boston, you can't buy in Florida."

Here's the squeeze: Rising inventories make it difficult to set -- and get -- your asking price. Buyers, caught in the same predicament, are reluctant to buy, hoping prices will return to earth shortly.

Selling your home
These days, frills and playthings don't work, but money in the buyer's pocket does.
How to attract buyers
Check out builder incentives
The other competition: foreclosures
Courting agents

How to attract buyers
Now that the seller's market is officially history and competition is keen, how will you attract a buyer for your home? Incentives, of course.

Builders, who have new homes sitting vacant on which they dare not lower the price for fear of setting off a domino effect, are already raising the bar with real-dollar incentives to attract buyers without reducing prices.

According to Gopal Ahluwalia, vice president of research for the National Association of Home Builders, 56 percent of builders surveyed in June said they were stepping up their amenities, 45 percent were offering to pay closing costs and 26 percent were buying down mortgage points. Overall, 71 percent of builders said they were offering at least one of those incentives.

That's your competition. Are you ready to meet their bid and raise it?

 
 
Next: "The incentives today are different ... "
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 RESOURCES
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Buyer incentives from a year ago
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