Sellers get creative in difficult market

Amid housing slump, strategies include novel incentives

By Josh Flory

Interested in a cottage home at Tennessee National? Join the club - literally.

While new appliances or a carpet allowance are sometimes used to entice home buyers, a pricier perk was on display in Loudon County last weekend, where a builder offered a free golf membership to visitors who bought a cottage home during an open house at the new residential-golf community. Besides covering a $30,000 initiation fee, the incentive also covered the golf club's $385-a-month dues through April 2009.

Broker Troy Stavros said two or three people expressed interest in the homes and were going to return this week. The goal of the incentive, he said, was "to kind of help people make that decision to go ahead and buy something."

All over East Tennessee, builders and home sellers are wrestling with the same problem - how to persuade people to "go ahead and buy something" and, if that doesn't work, deciding what to do as an alternative.