The expiring credit—which gives first-time homebuyers and some current homeowners a tax credit of up to $8,000 if they sign a contract by midnight tonight and close the sale by June 30—has been widely viewed as helping boost home sales in recent months.
For that reason, some real estate firms are pushing home sellers to offer incentives of their own, usually by agreeing to refund some of the purchase price to the buyer. Some developers are offering similar refunds to buyers of new homes or condos.
“In a way, it’s marketing the property,” says Gloria Marina, an agent at Florida-based real estate firm Esslinger Wooten Maxwell, who recently convinced a seller to offer an $8,000 refund on a $269,000 home in the Miami area. “The usual way you motivate people to buy is to drop prices, but this house is already well priced.”
Though the government's tax credit has already been extended twice, no one expects that to happen again.
“It will not be extended,” says Lucien Slavant of the National Association of Realtors, adding that he doesn’t know of any current legislation to extend the tax credit.
One of the larger companies pushing the new incentives is Coldwell Banker, a subsidiary of the global real estate giant Realogy. It is asking sellers to participate in a program that will give buyers 3 percent off the agreed-to sale price, up to a maximum of $8,000. The program will run from May 1 through July 31.
Sellers who participate receive additional marketing support, including television ads and a mention on Facebook and Twitter, says Coldwell Banker’s CEO Jim Gillespie.
Scott Lammie, who has been trying to unload his three-bedroom, Gibsonia,-Pa. home since last fall, recently signed up for the Coldwell Banker promotion. If he sells the home at its current list price of $399,800, Lammie has agreed to refund the buyer $8,000.
“It’s a way of continuing interest,” he says, “We felt it made sense to pursue it.”
Other firms are offering buyer incentives, too.