End-of-the-year homebuying incentives

As with so many major purchases, the end of the year frequently brings some of the best deals. While buyers expect to find sales and discounts on big-ticket items, electronics or the current year’s crop of cars, they may not realize that developers and builders are also willing to offer incentives to close the books on 2012 new home sales.

Sweetening the sale with a variety of freebies, upgrades, reduced prices or other incentives is a approach many builders turn to for a variety of reasons. Part of the motivation is tied to energizing the winter months, when home sales traditionally slow as buyers pay more attention to holiday happenings than relocating. In many cases, builders want to move that last house in the subdivision before starting the new year with a new project. The result can be a classic win-win for buyer and builder.

“We use incentives to generate awareness,” said Andy DiMarzio, vice president of sales and marketing for Edward Andrews Homes, a Marietta-based firm that builds new homes in Cobb, Forsyth and north Fulton counties. “We try to figure out what buyers value most, then we attach an incentive to it to emotionally drive them.”

DiMarzio said his company uses incentives not just to make close-out homes attractive, but to draw buyers to start-up developments as well. At the new Lake Haven of Crabapple, where the company is building on 28 lots with prices beginning in the $600,000s, early-bird pricing is in place only for the first few buyers.

“After four or five homes are sold, there will be an increase in the base price,” said DiMarzio. “So it’s an advantage for those who come first.”

Other Edward Andrews properties are also offering incentives. At Stonemill Creek and Hawthorne at Lost Mountain, both in the Powder Springs area, the company is finishing out developments with homes priced from the high $200,000s. Buyers who snatch up the remaining homes will receive free appliance and cabinetry upgrades in the kitchens. As the $300,000 to $400,000 Marseille development in Cumming winds down, buyers can opt for a free third garage, an amenity worth $10,000 to $13,000, said DiMarzio.

“Typically, the incentives are in the kitchen,” he said. “But at Marseille, buyers really want the garage, so that’s what we decided to offer.”

Scott White, vice president of Almont Homes, said his company has lined up several incentives on the last few homes remaining in subdivisions so it can move onto new projects in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.

“If it’s the last house, people are going to get a good price,” he said. “A lot of buyers who paid more won’t get the same extras. But the builder is ready to offer a pretty good deal, especially once they’ve turned off the marketing and maintenance.”

Earlier in the year, Almont, which focuses largely starter and first-time move up properties, offered $12,000 to $14,000 in upgrades for $6,000 at many of its properties. Through the end of the year, buyers can still pick up $20,000 toward Almont’s last five homes at Mill Creek, a 69-home neighborhood priced from $250,000. The Enclave at Ivy Creek in Buford and Peachtree Shoals in Hamilton Mill come with a $10,000 incentive toward the last remaining homes. Ivey Chase, a new community near Hamilton Mill where Almont is finishing 63 lots from the low $200,000, is just getting started with $10,000 incentives for buyers to use as they like.

Here’s a quick look at other incentives buyers will find before the end of the year.

Azalea Homes is offering $5,000 toward closing costs to buyers at Kenyon Farms, a community in West Cobb where homes are priced from the high $200,000s. In addition, the builders will take 25 to 40 percent off options for savings as much as $6,400.

The Piedmont Residential Group is tapping into the holiday season at any of its communities where buyers complete a sales contract before the end of the year. Along with $2,500 for closing costs and 50 percent off the first $10,000 in options, buyers may select a decorated Olivia Morgan Christmas tree or receive a certificate to create their own. Buyers and visitors will see some of the unusual trees at Piedmont’s properties: the Manor at Bridgemill in Canton, the Parc at Kellogg Creek in Woodstock, Hickory at Shiloh in Acworth, the Enclave at Cripple Creek in Kennesaw, Granite Mill in Marietta, the Retreat at Lost Mountain in Powder Springs and Glenn Park in Marietta.

The Providence Group, builders of Vinings Orchard, will give buyers of the five homes under construction in the Cobb community $7,500 to apply toward any designer options. Homes are priced from the high $500,000s.

And not all incentives are strictly monetary. At Piedmont Crossing, a community in East Cobb builder Steve Brock’s by Brock Built company is giving buyers who purchase before the end of the year a 42-inch flat screen television. Houses in the neighborhood are priced in the low $400,000s.

“Almost everybody does some sort of incentive at this time of the year, so you’ve got to offer people something,” said White. “But it’s also nice to give people a break that can soften the blow of the overall cost of buying a house.”

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