Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The prize is right? Not so fast............

As much as I encourage creativity in this real estate market, not everything I see quite fits the bill. Even though I applaud the realty agent profiled in this Dallas Morning News article:

I’m not convinced the prize is right. I completely understand the concept of someone buying a high end home being rewarded with another high end gift. However, the gift should fit.

(For those who did not check the link, the story is about an agent who is offering an expensive car valued at more than $30,000, “free” to the buyer of a million dollar mansion.)

The article goes to the extent of quoting the agent as saying that if someone truly does not need the car she is offering, she would replace it with something else. If there is going to be an incentive of this magnitude (which I encourage), then have the incentive fit the purchase in the first place.

Instead, the article reveals how a local car dealer has donated the expensive car in return for the publicity and the agent admits doing this to call attention to the listing. She doesn’t realize how this could backfire on her.

Chances are either the reporter who wrote the story or some other reporter will do a follow up check in a few weeks. What if the house still hasn’t sold? With the way the media publishes negative real estate statistics all the time, one story about “the house that didn’t sell even with a car given away” would cast that agent, and perhaps the property along with it, in a negative light.

Then suppose somebody buys a $500,000 property through that agent. Don’t think that buyer won’t be asking for a car valued at $15,000 - $20,000 or another major incentive. Heck, let’s be honest. I know I would. If she is giving an incentive for only one listing, it leaves any other buyers she serves with something they would perceive as a lot less.

In addition, I would think that someone who can afford a million dollar plus mansion probably doesn’t need another car at the moment. A car would be a great incentive for a first-time buyer, but that is not economically feasible. My point is that the incentive needs to fit the property and the agent representing it. This does not.

If I needed to sell that million dollars plus property and use a significant incentive to do so, I would make sure the incentive goes with the house and directly benefits the buyer. For example, I would use that $30,000 of incentives toward things like a one-year gardening contract, one-year pool maintenance, a maid/butler or driver service, or for a contractor to help with room changes for the new owner.

This type of incentive not only makes life easier for the buyer, it serves as a one-year “reminder” about what that realty agent did. Face it. Referrals from million dollars plus home buyers go a long way in any economy. And would be a lot more effective than when that buyer is sitting in the auto repair shop waiting for the latest problem with their new car to be fixed.

In addition, this type of incentive could be used by the agent for any property she sells, even with a time limit. Her “June special” could be that you get a one-year maid or cleaning service with a condo purchase. That just might push the buyer on a tight budget to move a few days more quickly when they can save even a couple thousand dollars over the course of the coming year while enhancing their “new” home.

There are better ways to “drive” home sales!

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