Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Spanish Springs residents find creative ways to help sell home

Sara Babylon tried having open houses as a way to sell her Spanish Springs home.She opened her doors to complete strangers for almost three months, waiting for someone to buy her three bedroom, two bathroom home with brand new carpet and appliances on a quarter-acre of land.

But instead of a flood of interest, she barely had a trickle.

"The last open house, not one person came by and I was like OK, that's it," said Babylon, 36.

So Babylon, along with husband, Dirk, decided to offer an enticement they thought potential buyers wouldn't be able to pass up -- a free 1992 Jeep Wrangler with purchase at asking price. The home once listed at $336,000 is now down to $320,000.

The couple's unusual sales tactic was inspired by hearing about a Carson City woman who bought a home because the mortgage lender had offered a $1,000 gift certificate to Bed, Bath and Beyond.

"I thought: 'Let's give that a try,'" Sara Babylon said. "That's a weird (way) to make your home stand out above someone else's. But here's someone who said I chose this home because of (an extra enticement)."

For the last few weeks, the couple has driven the black soft-top jeep -- sporting a sign on the back reading: "Buy home get jeep free" -- around Sparks.

She said the tactic has garnered some attention. In the past two weeks, 150 advertising flyers have been taken from a holder in front of her home at 7718 Cerritos Circle.

In the weeks before offering the Jeep, Babylon estimated just five of the flyers were taken by interested buyers.

The Babylons' realtor, Patty Fabre-Johnson said more of her clients are using creative ways to sell their homes.

"Realtors and sellers are resorting to any tactics," Fabre-Johnson said. "I've seen people give away hybrid cars, cruises, gas gift cards and lotto tickets."

Stephen Haley, Reno-Sparks Association of Realtors president, said that creativity is spurred by a saturated housing market.

In 2005, there were 9,218 homes and condominiums on the market in Washoe County, and the average selling price was $363,450, according to the multiple listing service.

More than half those houses were sold.

In 2006, there have been 11,568 homes on the market as of August, and the average selling price is $13,000 higher than in 2005. But less than a quarter of those homes have sold.

"There is so much competition and so many homes on the market compared to any other time in recent history," said Haley, a realtor in Washoe County for 21 years.

Last summer's market was a sellers' market, with a limited supply of homes and some houses selling for $10,000 over their appraisal, Fabre-Johnson said.

This year, the tables have turned -- it's a buyer's market.

"There is a difference between price and value, and right now the buyers are dictating that price because they are determining the value," Haley said.

The Babylons bought their home six years ago and have been thinking about selling it for two years. The sale of their yet-to-be-built new home is contingent on the sale of their existing house, Sara Babylon said.

They are tired of waiting for their home to sell so construction on the new house can begin. The couple even has scheduled another open house this weekend, Babylon said.

"We didn't realize how slow (the housing market) is and how hard it is to get people out (to see our home)," she said.

50 Simple Steps You Can Take to Sell Your Home Faster and for More Money in Any Market


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