Do Home Buyer Incentives Work?

Every home seller wants their property to attract as much interest as possible. In today’s environment, the irony is so much information is available that’s it makes it difficult to stand-out from the competition. It’s a dilemma, but that certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to edge-out competition, it just requires a bit of creativity.

During the housing boom experienced in the early part of the new millennium, prices were steeply climbing, mortgage products were plentiful, and buyers had ample choice. This caused sellers to think outside the box and offer crazy incentives. Now, with the market in recovery, such tactics generally don’t bring much return, though when done right, buyer incentives do work.

Getting a House Ready to Sell

Putting aside incentives, sellers ought to think like buyers and what house hunters want most. Move-in ready is at the very top of the list. Project homes aren’t hot commodities in today’s market because there’s so much available that doesn’t require any work. In addition to that fact is the makeup of the home buyer pool, which largely consists of single women and gay couples, according to a news report by Forbes, citing a survey conducted by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.

“Some sellers try to attract attention and a contract by offering unusual incentives to buyers. Whether these work isn’t always clear because sometimes the buyers might have opted to purchase the home even without a perk or two.” —

This means emphasis has to be put on the property itself. So, eye-catching curb appeal and attractive entryways are a must. In fact, new steel front doors bring the highest return on investment, fetching an impressive 98 percent ROI, according to the National Association of Realtors. In addition, a sellable home should be presented like a model home, not a lived-in residence. Clean, fresh, decluttered, and welcoming are four rules of thumb. Buyers simply aren’t interested in the seller’s life, they are looking to their own future.

Which Home Buyer Incentives Work Best

To stand out and get on the must-see list of buyers, incentives do work, but these are not necessarily extravagant. More often that not, buyers are incentivized by the bottom line, which is to say, through their wallets. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that other kinds of incentives won’t help increase exposure and generate interest.

Buyers do welcome gestures like paying H.O.A. fees, especially for first-time buyers and even those relocating or moving, because said fees are often their biggest objection. Another is leaving behind new furniture and decor. This works well with buyers who are impressed and really like the furnishings they see when touring the home. Gift cards can have an impact, though these can be a gamble.

The top buyer incentive, not surprisingly, is a good price. Buyers are looking to find deals where they can, which is why closing cost assistance works so well. Buyers are hit with all kinds of expenses when purchasing a home, including inspections, moving costs, an earnest money deposit, and settlement fees.

While great photos, highlighting the best features, plenty of light, and impressive curb appeal will do a lot to sell a home, the hands-down best incentive is a fair price. If a home isn’t priced to sell, it likely won’t.