Private incentives replacing federal tax credit for home buyers

home buying incentivesReports from around the country seem to indicate that lots of people rushed to take advantage of the end of the government home-buyer tax credit. "It's gone nuts," one real estate agent in Plano, Texas, tells the Wall Street Journal.

But it turns out the end of government incentives to buy a house is just the start of some private, industry incentives that may make running out and purchasing that first time home, or upgrading to another house, equally attractive.
One major, new incentive program comes from Coldwell Banker. As WalletPop reported first last week, Coldwell Banker is asking home sellers to give buyers 3% off the sales price to a maximum of $8,000, which happens to be the amount of the government tax credit for first-time home buyers.

Coldwell Banker's CEO, Jim Gillespie, tells CNBC that, in exchange for offering the price reduction, sellers will get more marketing backup -- from television ads to Facebook and Twitter mentions.

It's called the "Buyer Bonus" program and runs from May 1 through July 31.

DesMoinesRegister.com reports that the local Coldwell Banker franchise in Iowa, for example, has placed an initial order for 100 "For Sale" signs with the tag line, "Buyer Bonus" on them, according to Carolyn Helminger, the president of Mid-America Group, the franchise holder in that city.

In some cases, home builders are now offering buyers their own "incentives."

If you are in the market for a new house in Minooka, Ill by some chance, home builders and the village are offering a $10,000 refund on newly constructed properties bought by the end of this year. The town and the home builders each are kicking in $5,000.

Like the government incentive programs, none of these private initiatives will last forever. But if you were not ready to buy a home in time to take advantage of the federal tax credits, you may want to look around your own area over the next few months and check out whatever private incentives might be out there. In some case, they may be just as good, or better (they don't have some of the restrictions of the former federal program) than what the government had to offer. Makes you wonder why there wasn't more of this before?

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has covered real estate related issues for several years.

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