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Garfield County Realtors forced to get creative to lure customers

John Gardnerjgardner@postindependent.comGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent photo illustration
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GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado Drastic times call for creative measures.And local real estate brokers dealing with cautious buyers and the tough market are getting creative by providing incentives that would have been unimaginable just one year ago.Mortgage broker Linda McKinley says that its a good situation for buyers because a lot of sellers are giving huge concessions, incentives and government tax credits for first-time home buyers, making it a great time to buy.Listing agents for the Riverpark Condominiums in New Castle broker associates Linda LEstrange with The Property Shop and Mary Anne Meyer with Joshua & Co. in Aspen have come up with a pretty creative way to spark buyers interest in todays struggling market a free Jeep Patriot with purchase of a condo as one possible incentive. The condos start at $250,000, and the vehicle is valued at $18,000, according to LEstrange.Times are tough now, and a lot of people who could be potential buyers I think they are holding back and waiting, LEstrange said. Maybe this is what they need to give them the little boost or incentive they are looking for.But with lenders requiring higher credit scores and more money down, LEstrange and Meyer are hoping that a free car with the purchase of a condo and up to $15,000 in closing costs is enough to lure prospective buyers to at least come and look at the properties.That is what we are looking to dangle out there, and I think its a great thing, LEstrange said.The two started the promotion just before Christmas, and though the newspaper ad has stimulated much interest in the 25 remaining Riverpark units the duo has yet to seal a deal, even with the free car incentive.I think when people see something like that they think its too good to be true, LEstrange said.According to McKinley it may be.That is the most creative incentive Ive heard of, McKinley said. The seller is not going to give away a car if they dont think they will get a return on it.McKinley said that smart buyers would be better off taking the value of the vehicle and putting that amount toward closing costs and buying down the interest rate on the loan.We call that power home buying, McKinley said, where the buyer is a lot better off taking the $250,000 price and having the seller buy down the interest rate on the loan.Glen Ault with Aspen Sothebys in Silt said that hes also seen developers come up with incentives hes never seen before.Were doing everything from buying down interest rates to taking trades, Ault said.Ault said that one creative way Sun Meadow Estates developers are luring prospective home buyers is by offering a trade incentive on their current property similar to an auto trade in. Ault gave an example of one couple that traded their current property valued at $360,000 for a new home valued at $639,000. The buyers pay the difference in value and what they owe on the existing home and the developer sells the old property to make up the difference.Instead of having to put their house on the market and waiting for it to sell, they can get into the home they want now, Ault said.Ault also agreed that the biggest challenge for Realtors is just getting people to come look at the properties.We will do a lot of things right now just to get people to look, he said.The free vehicle incentive also helps out local auto dealer Berthod Motors. According to Berthod Motors sales manager Steve Damm its also a good way for struggling auto dealers to move vehicles, too, because buyers looking at the home are now also looking at a new car.We hope we can promote both products and people will see increased value in what we have to offer, Damm said, adding that this isnt the first time that Berthod Motors has been involved in a promotion of this sort.We dont do many each year, he said. But it happens occasionally.LEstrange commented that the toughest part is convincing people that it really is a good time to buy a home, but incentives like this will intrigue them enough to at least come out and look.The local real estate market has suffered a 43 percent decline in property transactions from January through November of 2008 compared to the same time period for 2007, according to the December market analysis compiled by Land Title Guarantee Co.With everything that sellers are willing to do to sell a property, McKinley was surprised that the market hasnt picked up already. LEstrange agreed. It is a really good time to buy right now, she said. People just need to understand that again.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.com


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