Incentives grow as market slows

Homebuilders offer freebies to entice buyers

August 25, 2006|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun reporter

Buy a new house in one of Pulte Homes' designated communities and get three years of free gas and electrical service and a $500 prepaid gasoline card. Make Engle Homes an offer it can't refuse (within reason) and save thousands on a new home. Move into a house custom-built by Baldwin Homes and get $8,000 toward closing costs or a buy-down on your mortgage rate.

After a couple of heady years of soaring demand and accelerated building of homes, sales are down, inventories are up and buyers are canceling new-home contracts at twice the rate of a year ago. So builders are enticing buyers by offering to throw in extras ranging from designer kitchens to new cars. Such packages haven't been seen in more than a decade, experts say.

Coming Sunday The soft landing widely predicted for Baltimore's housing market only a few months ago has become more of a thud. The local market has suddenly become by some measures the slowest in six years, with price markdowns becoming commonplace. Why were sellers and real estate professionals caught so off guard?

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