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In tough times, Boro realtors offer more incentives
Realtors Brandon Parker and Gin Starling along with Mortgage Loan Officer Sherri Hinson answer questions from Harriet Allen and Joan Jones as they register for a free cruise at Graystone Townhomes’ open house last week.. Pictured, left to right, are Starling, Allen, Parker, Jones and Hinson. - photo by JENNY LYNN ANDERSON/Special
     Creative realtors and developers in Statesboro are following a nationwide trend in designing some wacky and ingenious real estate incentive packages to help lure potential homebuyers and tenants to their properties.  
Brandon Parker, a realtor with Prudential Kennedy Realty, along with Gin Starling with Coldwell Banker Tanner Realty, are teaming up to sell Graystone Townhomes, a new gated town home community developed by Beasley White Developers and financed by Farmers and Merchants Bank. Determined to get some foot traffic into the new development on Burkhalter Road, the group formulated a plan to sale the 38 units. Their idea: Play host to an open house and give away a three-day Carnival cruise to the Bahamas.
    “The open house we hosted last Saturday generated a good bit of traffic due to advertising and the cruise door prize,” says Parker. “The developers are relying on us to get the home buyers to the closing table so we wooed buyers utilizing an aggressive marketing campaign of newspaper and radio ads, a live radio remote, as well as online marketing,” said Parker, who has been selling real estate for six years.
The realtors have plans to do something similar in the future based on the success of this open house.  
    “Interestingly, it generated a lot of attention and people did not realize how nice and big these $169,000 three-bedroom town homes are. Potential homebuyers were pleasantly surprised when they toured the development,” Parker said.  
In today’s real estate climate, Parker said buyers expect the world.  
“They want deep discounts off list prices,” he said. “We as realtors have a great challenge helping the seller determine a list price that is attractive.”  
Often Parker advises the seller to reduce the price to create more foot traffic.  
    “You absolutely have to set a realistic, saleable price on day one,” he said.     
Another big incentive for buyers is that 100 percent financing is available. For instance, on Graystone Townhomes, homebuyers can purchase the unit and still obtain a 100 percent mortgage by combining a down payment assistance program with an FHA 97 percent loan.  
    According to Sherri Hinson, mortgage loan officer with Farmers and Merchants Bank, “Even though guidelines have become more restrictive and fewer mortgage options, borrowers with good credit management can still make owning a home an achievable reality.”
    To be successful in this market, Cindy Osborne, associate broker with Century 21, says that creativity and marketing are the two necessities.  
“We’re doing more advertising than ever and we’re putting listings on 15 to 20 Web sites to blanket all real estate search engines,” she said.  
Also, if it’s a unique house and she needs activity, she throws in a free home warranty worth $400 for the seller and buyer.  
    Parker, Starling and Osborne are not alone in their innovative ideas. Tillman Park, the upscale gated condominium development downtown, is employing creative tactics of their own to show off their 35 three and four bedroom units. They are giving away Honda scooters that get 100 miles per gallon to the first five buyers who will purchase a unit before Sept. 1.  
“With gas prices cresting $4 per gallon, we think there will be acceleration in the trend of closer-in-living,” said Everett Kennedy, the broker/realtor for Tillman Park. “People want to simplify their lives and this type of downtown living is perfect for the homeowner who wants to save money on gas and have everything they need within walking or biking’s distance. With a total amenity package of clubhouse, library, fitness center, pool, sauna and steam room, this style of living is going to become more attractive in the current economic landscape.”
    Commercial property owners are also pushing up their sleeves to make the deal happen.  
Mike Bowen, a partner in Oak Crossing and Towne Centre, is trying to drum up interest in their commercial space in the shopping centers that house Pizza Inn and Subway on Highway 80 West.  
“We have two bays open and we are offering incentive lease packages to prospective lease holders. Depending on what the business needs, we are willing to offer lease abatements or a build out package,” Bowen said.  

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