By JOEL LANDAU Staff Writer Press of Atlantic City
ATLANTIC CITY - As buyers continue to have the advantage in the housing market, developers are offering more incentives to entice them to buy.
"In this market you've got to make deals," said Ian Lazarus, project manager for sales and marketing of The View Condominiums on the Boardwalk. "Buyers are looking for anything they can get. In a buyer's market, they are always looking to reduce the price. We try to get them off the price and talk to them about other incentives that have a money value."
Lazarus has a lot to sell at the moment. Steve Kates, owner president of Kates Associates, purchased View Condominiums about a year ago and turned the former Waterside Apartments building into condos.
About half of the 348-unit building in the South Inlet is occupied, but Lazarus has been very aggressive. He said he's sold about 47 homes in the past two months.
To help his cause, Lazarus has offered special amenities as crews begin retrofitting the former apartments into new condos.
The company has offered incentives such as hardwood floors, stainless steel kitchen appliances and renovated bathrooms. Kates Associates also is working with Sun National Bank in Atlantic City to provide loans with a low down payment and offering to pay the new owners' closing costs.
Kates also worked with tenants of the apartment building and allowed them to use their security deposits and up to six months of paid rent toward buying a condo.
"You can close the deal if you find out what they want," Lazarus said.
Kates decided it was worth it to make sure the building was full of good owners rather than holding out for potentially more money down the road when the market fully recovered.
"We made a commitment to people to find a way to live here," he said. "It has made the people in the building very tight, almost like a family. They come here and love being here."
Several area housing developers have begun sweetening their deals to stand out.
Mary Danielsen, spokeswoman for the Builders League of South Jersey, said changing the internal factors of the properties has been the biggest incentive. Local developers are retrofitting the units to provide buyers what they need in their new home, she said.
"They can't change the size of the house but they can make internal changes," she said. "The needs of the homes have changed. The technology has changed. You may not need a dining room or family room because technology allows you to move around the house more."
Developers offer different packages for buyers, Danielsen said. They could offer a fourth bedroom instead of a television room now that people can fit a large flat screen television in their bedroom.
Local builders have also started offering packages to help sell existing homes, she said. They will have employees fix up and prepare their buyers' former homes to sell.
"They can get one of their own guys to fix it up so they can get moving," Danielsen said.
Rita Gasparro, sales manager for D'Anastasio Corp., started a new incentive program six months ago for the Tavistock housing complex in Mays Landing, to sell the last dozen properties of the 208-home housing complex.
The developer decided to offer $20,000 off the base price or 50 percent off all options, such as a wider driveway, additional bedroom, sun room or second garage.
Single family homes start at $203,000, she said.
"He made a decision with the way the market is to start selling the homes for less," she said.
Gasparro said she needed an incentive because many clients have a home they need to sell before they can buy their next house.
"A lot of people have said, ‘I like what you have, but I need to sell my home first,'" she said. "You've got to give them a discount because they'll say I had to sell my house first and have to make that up."
Jeanne Gamber, sales and marketing director for Bruce Paparone Inc., said a discount off the listed price was the most effective incentive. Instead of offering amenities they would offer money, she said.
"We were able to be flexible and look at the needs of individual buyers. We do not do it across the board but look at individual needs. It seems to work out," she said. "It depends on the buyer. We feel bottom line, especially in this economy, there are a lot of people that want a financial benefit."
But incentives don't last forever.
Paparone has not offered any incentives recently in their Gloucester County developments because they are back to getting market value for their land, Gamber said.