New Ideas to Lure More Buyers

July 8, 2014

With the housing recovery losing some of its steam, the real estate community is coming up with new ways to reach home buyers. 

Redfin, for example, has developed a mathematical algorithm that looks at data on a home, its surroundings, and the market, and then assigns "hot" labels to properties likely to be under contract within 14 days of listing.  The "hot" designation imparts a sense of urgency, according to Redfin's Bridget Frey, who says buyers do not respond to housing starts and other market data.

"What they're trying to do," she explains, "is decide: 'Should I watch the World Cup this weekend or should I go on a home tour?'" 

Meanwhile, Lexington Homes is taking a new approach to model homes in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood, where 11 of its 20 sites sold before a model could be built. Four of the community's home owners allow prospective buyers to tour their homes in exchange for gift cards. The move has saved the builder $30,000 to $70,000 by eliminating the need to build, decorate, and furnish a show unit. 

Jim Metz, one of the home owners, says: "It's better than a model because people are actually looking at a finished house." 

Also in an effort to attract buyers, BMO Harris Bank's loan officers are partnering with real estate agents and staffing open houses on Sundays. These loan officers are on hand to answer buyers' mortgage-related questions and even help agents if the event is particularly busy. Loan officers at JPMorgan Chase, meanwhile, are hosting workshops for buyers who want to know how much they can afford before they start their home search.

Source: "Builders, Lenders Try New Tactics to Lure Buyers," Chicago Tribune (July 6, 2014)

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