Buy a home, take a trip

“Vacation” home at 745 Woodridge Court. Buy this home, and the developer will give you a Carribean vacation.

Local real estate agents and sellers are coming up with some unique ways to sell homes.

Ray Rickard, a real estate developer and a Realtor with RE/MAX 4000, said he wanted to garner more interest in six homes he developed in the Woodridge Subdivision off G 1/2 Road. So, he’s offering a free trip for two to the Caribbean for anyone that closes on the homes by the end of this year. Rickard will pay for the trips himself.

“Housing’s down as low as it can go, especially on new houses,” Rickard said. “We thought the prices are right, the interest rates are right, the tax credits are right. We’re just throwing in a little incentive.”

The median price of a Grand Junction home is below $200,000 for the first time since February 2007. Interest rates have dipped below 5 percent. And tax credits are being offered to first-time buyers and buyers who have lived in their previous homes at least five years.

The list of homes for sale in Grand Junction is longer than it has been in years, making competition fierce, RE/MAX 4000 Realtor Andrew Kramer said. Kramer is the agent representing Rickard’s homes as well as a home being sold at 584 McMullin Drive. The owner of that home is willing to pay for a trip for two to Las Vegas for anyone who closes on the home by Dec. 31.

Kramer said he and Rickard were tossing around ideas about what would excite a buyer when they thought of the trip idea.

“How often do you have money to take a vacation after you buy a house?” Kramer said.

So far, the incentive has attracted interest, but no buyers.

Rickard also has a new home on the market at 1115 Legacy Way in Fruita. RE/MAX 4000 Realtor Mandy Harter is selling that home. Rickard is offering to match a person’s first-time or second-time homebuyer tax credit up to $8,000 if they close on the home by the end of December.

“It makes people aware of the tax credit and gives them an incentive to pick up the phone,” Harter said.

Harter said she’s not getting a flood of calls on the Fruita listing, though it’s hard for her to judge why, because winter is a difficult time to sell a house.

It’s also not as easy to sell a new home as it is to sell an existing home, which may explain why there is only one home owner offering a trip with a home sale in the Grand Valley.

In October, 5.3 million existing homes sold in the United States, and 3 million were left on the market at the end of the month, according to the National Association of Realtors. Meanwhile, in the same month, 35,000 new homes sold, and 240,000 were left on the market, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The real estate market has exploded into a “price war and a beauty contest,” Kramer said. Homes may be selling at rock bottom prices, he said, but developers can’t always lower prices as much as sellers of existing homes because of construction costs. Rickard figures it’s better to offer a trip than to keep a home on the market and have its price slip below profitability.

“Builders and developers can only give so much” because of construction costs, he said. “So they’re offering incentives as a way to offset (their price limitations).”


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