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Tough times make for buyer’s market in Garfield County

John GardnerGlenwood correspondentjgardner@postindependent.com
Glenwood Springs Post-IndependentOne real estate agent in Garfield County is offering a free Jeep Patriot with the purchase of a condo.
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GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado Drastic times call for creative measures in Garfield County, Colorado.And local real estate brokers dealing with cautious buyers and a tough market are getting creative, providing incentives that would have been unimaginable a year ago.Its a buyers market, according to mortgage broker Linda McKinley. Sellers offering concessions combined with government tax credits for first-time homebuyers makes the current market it a great time to buy, she said.Listing agents for the Riverpark Condominiums in New Castle broker associates Linda LEstrange with The Property Shop and Mary Anne Meyer with Joshua & Co. in Aspen have come up with a creative way to spark buyers interest a free Jeep Patriot with the purchase of a condo, for example. The condos start at $250,000, and the vehicle is valued at $18,000, according to LEstrange.Times are tough now, and a lot of people who could be potential buyers I think they are holding back and waiting, LEstrange said. Maybe this is what they need to give them the little boost or incentive they are looking for.With lenders requiring higher credit scores and more money down, LEstrange and Meyer are hoping that a free vehicle with the purchase of a condo and up to $15,000 in closing costs is enough to lure prospective buyers to at least come and look at the properties.That is what we are looking to dangle out there, and I think its a great thing, LEstrange said.The two started the promotion just before Christmas, and though a newspaper ad has stimulated much interest in the 25 remaining Riverpark units, the duo has yet to seal a deal, even with the free Jeep incentive.I think when people see something like that, they think its too good to be true, LEstrange said.According to McKinley, it may be.That is the most creative incentive Ive heard of, McKinley said. The seller is not going to give away a car if they dont think they will get a return on it.McKinley suggested smart buyers would be better off taking the value of the vehicle and putting that amount toward closing costs and buying down the interest rate on the loan.We call that power home buying, McKinley said.Glen Ault, with Aspen Sothebys in Silt, said hes also seen developers come up with incentives hes never seen before.Were doing everything from buying down interest rates to taking trades, Ault said.Sun Meadow Estates developers, Ault noted, are luring prospective homebuyers by offering a trade incentive on their current property, much like a car buyer would trade in their old vehicle.According to Ault, one couple traded their current property, valued at $360,000, for a new home valued at $639,000. The buyers paid the difference in value and what they owed on the existing home; the developer sells the old property to make up the difference.Instead of having to put their house on the market and waiting for it to sell, they can get into the home they want now, Ault said.The biggest challenge from brokers these days is simply getting people to come look at properties, he said.We will do a lot of things right now just to get people to look, Ault said.The free-vehicle incentive also helps local auto dealer Berthod Motors in Glenwood Springs. The promotion means buyers looking at a home are looking at a new vehicle, as well, said Steve Damm, sales manager at Berthod.We hope we can promote both products and people will see increased value in what we have to offer, Damm said. This isnt the first time Berthod Motors has been involved in a promotion of this sort, he added.We dont do many each year, he said, but it happens occasionally.The toughest part, LEstrange said, is convincing potential buyers that it really is a good time to buy a home. The incentives may intrigue them enough to at least come out and look, she said.The Garfield County real estate market saw a 43 percent drop in transactions from January through November 2008, compared to the same time period in 2007, according to the December market analysis compiled by Land Title Guarantee Co.But, with everything sellers are willing to do to move a property, McKinley is surprised the market hasnt picked up already.LEstrange agreed.It is a really good time to buy right now, she said. People just need to understand that again.


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