OK, I'm kidding here. I'm not kidding about the free house, but I am kidding about getting a gift for opening a checking account with Bank of America.
Bank of America is offering free homes to 150 select people in Chicago. In her article on Bankrate.com, Marcie Geffner writes about Bank of America's plan to offer homes for free to get rid of some foreclosures. Their plan is to unload of some of their extra properties and help solve urban blight problems in the city.
What would 150 free homes do to home values in Chicago? I could make a strong argument that putting solid homeowners in vacant bank-owned homes would actually improve home values in these neighborhoods. While $0 sales may hurt appraisals, having a glut of abandoned, damaged homes will only serve to harm a neighborhood's long term home values. Few people want to live next to or even near a vacant home, and a home that sits unoccupied will only deteriorate over time.
I remember getting a choice of a toaster or a crisp $20 bill for opening an account with one bank about 15 years ago. I took the money! Imagine if they offered a house.