Builder plans holiday sale

Pulte offers incentives in 7 Md. developments

October 13, 2007|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun reporter

Pulte Homes is trying to combat the housing slump with a Halloween-themed "monster" sale at seven Maryland communities, including Baltimore, with incentives that include selling at cost and guaranteeing the purchase of buyers' current dwellings.

The homebuilder, one of the nation's largest, hopes to entice buyers frightened by plummeting sales, stagnant or falling prices and the potential of getting stuck with two mortgages. The builder said the size of incentives and availability vary by community and home site.

"We figure this is an appropriate treat for homebuyers who may find market conditions a little spooky right now," wrote Melanie Hearsch, a spokeswoman in Pulte's corporate office in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., in an e-mail yesterday.

The three-day sales blitz, an attempt to shed excess inventory in Pulte's 51 markets across the nation, marks the second such event in Maryland by a national builder.

Last month, K. Hovnanian Homes ran a "Deal of the Century" nationwide sales campaign for three days. The builder reported getting 1,700 contracts and more than 400 sales deposits on homes during the 72-hour event.

Homebuilders have been hard hit in the housing slump, with their troubles compounded by the credit crunch. Tighter lending standards have shut out many potential buyers including those who need so-called jumbo loans - $418,000 and up. The Commerce Department reported that sales in August hit the slowest pace in seven years.

"The unusual blockage of the market we had for the month of September, where it was difficult for prospective buyers to come by a mortgage has exacerbated what was already a difficult situation," said John E. Kortecamp, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. "These larger, national production builders are going to do some dramatic things. It's all about shedding inventory."

The sale includes Pulte's first development in Baltimore City: McHenry Pointe in Locust Point. When sales on the 121 garage townhouses opened in 2005, prices started in the mid-$500,000s. For the sale, Pulte is advertising prices beginning in the upper $400,000s.

Also included in the Oct. 19-21 sale are three other Pulte developments in metropolitan Baltimore. They are: Fieldstone, single-family homes planned for Westminster in Carroll County; Forest View, condominiums in Joppa in Harford County for adults 55 and older from the mid-$200,000s, and the Cloisters at Village Crest, villa homes in Ellicott City in Howard County from the mid-$400,000s, also an adult community.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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