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How to entice home buyers today

Can't sell your house? Use persuasion -- in the form of money or lucrative handouts. Here are some popular buyer incentives available in today's buyer's market:

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Down-payment help: As home prices hold steady and credit tightens, more buyers are hard-pressed to put money down on a home. A little help with the down payment can help them over this hurdle.

Mortgage buy-down: Are your buyers nervous about their prospective monthly house payments or the interest rate on their loan? You can lower both by buying down their mortgage; each point you pay equals 1 percent of the loan amount. First-time buyers or young families can often use the help to free up cash to furnish their new home.

Homeowner/condo association dues: Welcome your buyers to the neighborhood by springing for their first year of association dues.

Maintenance fees: If the buyers will be contracting for lawn maintenance anyway, or if they will be required to do so in your community, paying a year of their maintenance fees is money in the bank for them. The same applies to a year of pool service.

Home warranty: As the cost of service calls increases, a year of home warranty coverage is becoming a commonplace incentive to attract buyers. Typical policies cover service to the home's interior plumbing, HVAC, appliances and fixtures such as lights and fans. Typically excluded are pools, hot tubs, sprinkler systems and attic fans. Their only expense: a per-call fee, usually around $60.

Closing costs: What buyer wouldn't welcome some help with those teeth-gritting closing costs (legal, title, filing fees, etc.) that, according to a Freddy Mac estimate, typically run between 2 percent to 7 percent of the loan amount?

Landscaping: Springing for a few shrubs, new turf or other landscaping features can help a buyer feel right at home.

Leave a treasure behind: Some home furnishings, especially those custom-made to fit a part of your house, can be profitably sacrificed if they help close the deal. After all, you likely know where and how to get another one. If the buyers are smitten with it, they may be more inclined to meet your terms if you agree to leave that prized puzzle piece in place.'s corrections policy
-- Posted: Aug. 30, 2007
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