Cars, cellphones and an upgraded kitchen package - all for free - are some of the incentives developers are using to entice home shoppers to buy in South Jersey communities.
A luxury condominium in Atlantic City, Bella, is offering a free Smart car, a free smart (or hybrid) TV and a free smartphone with the purchase (a signed contract) of a two-bed, two-bath condo before April 30.
The price of those condos starts at $249,000 - the lowest they have ever been, according to marketing director Paula Celletti-Baron.
When Scannapieco Development Corp. remodeled the 1980s building in 2005, it was selling the two-bed, two-bath condos for about $450,000 - but that was before the housing market crash, Celletti-Baron said. At that time, some people either stopped looking for second homes or sold the ones they had.
Now that the market is picking up again, and the winter has been particularly brutal, Celletti-Baron hopes to instigate excitement for summer and second homes again.
"For shore properties, there is a small amount of time that is the busy season - as soon as the Super Bowl ends and not a minute after Memorial Day," said Laura Krebs, public relations representative at Cashman & Associates.
Second-home purchases are increasing, but people are still cautious, Krebs said.
There are currently about 50 units - most of which are still brand new - available at Bella. The option for the freebies is valued at about $30,000, which buyers can choose as cash toward their purchase instead, Celletti-Baron said.
Elsewhere, on the mainland, two independent developers are offering incentives to attract buyers to their 55-plus communities.
Four Seasons at Harbor Bay, by Red Bank-based K. Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., is offering a discounted price on spec, or pre-built, homes for "quick move-ins" by the end of March.
"We are getting a lot of traffic from southern New York … and northern New Jersey," said Steve Carporaso, area vice president of K. Hovnanian Homes Northeast Division.
He currently has three spec homes available for immediate occupancy in the 5-year-old community.
Many who come have told Carporaso that they are interested in the Little Egg Harbor Township location because it is near Atlantic City, Long Beach Island and Philadelphia.
The discounts vary in price, ranging between $40,000 and $50,000. One spec home listed on the website, khov.com, is priced at $299,950 - discounted from about $306,000.
The developer is also responsible for the Bayport on Lake's Bay in West Atlantic City, located on the bay side of the Black Horse Pike.
Another development - the Village Grande at English Mill, in Egg Harbor Township - is throwing in a premium kitchen package to attract buyers.
The "7 diamond" package is an incentive to appeal to those who feel the kitchen is "one of the most important rooms in terms of increasing a home's value," according to a statement from the developer.
D.R. Horton has put together a package that includes a kitchen island counter, 42-inch cabinets, granite countertops, hardwood flooring and a stainless steel gas range, dishwasher and microwave.
"It's been a tough winter, and everyone has cabin fever and is sick of shoveling snow every morning before going to work," Celletti-Baron said. "It's a great opportunity to get people to start thinking about summer."
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