You know how offering a free gift with purchase can be that extra something that persuades buyers to stop, take a look, and then open their pocketbooks to pay up? Well, that same approach works for selling homes, too. It’s psychology 101: Adding an unexpected benefit—beyond the home itself—can get potential buyers thinking, “Wow, I’m getting not only a home, but this other cool thing for free!” It’s a sales tactic few can resist.
So if you think your home sale needs a little something extra, check out these creative ideas below. While we couldn’t always verify whether these tactics resulted in a sale, one thing that’s clear is these freebies didgarner tons of attention—and hey, that’s half the battle!
Who doesn’t love tacos? At least, that’s what Cypress, TX–based real estate agent Nicole Lopez must have thought in January when she decided to post a very special “For Sale” sign in front of a home she was trying to sell: “$250 in free tacos with purchase of this home.”
News of this “free tacos” sign soon went viral on Facebook, landing Lopez on local TV, where she claimed she was “inundated with calls from around the country and Canada.” Within a month, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house—listed for $170,000—had found buyers who said they definitely planned to throw a taco party to celebrate their new property.
Meanwhile, Lopez has dubbed herself “the original taco Realtor®” as she expects others may try the same tactic.
“We’ll take (imitation),” she told local news channel KPCR 2. “If it helps people sell homes, we’re all for it.”
A free car
A real estate developer in a Chicago suburb facing a sales slowdown in April 2011 went the way of game shows with the perk he offered buyers: a new car!
Developer Kim Meier included a $17,000 credit at a General Motors dealership. “We needed to do something dramatic,” Meier told the New York Times. “The market’s been soft.” Seven sales soon followed.
And others have followed in his tracks: In 2014, a Boca Raton, FL, seller asking for $3.5 million for a six-bedroom home (pictured above) was willing to throw in a car worth about $100,000!
According to the Sun Sentinel, he even offered a choice: a Ferrari 360 Spider convertible or an open-top Hummer H1. (The Hummer, by the way, was worth a bit more than the Ferrari.) Decisions, decisions!
Alas, no buyers bit, but as far as publicity goes, we still think this is the most impressive carrot we’ve seen yet.
Free beer and beer pong cups
In 2015, the owner of a tiny bungalow in Los Angeles offered to treat the home buyers to beer—plus cups—for a celebratory game of beer pong.
“Whoever buys this house, I will buy the beer for the beer pong,” seller and listing agent David De Anda told realtor.com. “They will get cups and beer purchased by the owner. We definitely want to celebrate right.”
Why beer pong? De Anda described the renovated one-bedroom, one-bathroom house as a “fun” place where beer pong would complement the atmosphere. And apparently it worked: The listing went up in February with the asking price of $269,000 and sold for $330,000 in September that year.
After watching a Lancaster, PA–based home languish on the market for six months, real estate agent Doug Miller decided to think outside the box—the pizza box, that is. So in 2013, he hung a “free pizza with purchase of home” sign in front of the place he was selling, listed for $259,900.
It was enough to land him on the local news. “I just thought it was kind of cute and would grab attention,” Miller told WGAL 8.
While we can’t verify whether this sales ploy worked, here’s one question worth pondering: Is one pizza enough? As one local resident interviewed by WGAL pointed out, “It should have been a year of free pizza.”
Other fun freebies
- Boat and water skis: Real estate agent Michael L. Jones had a waterfront listing where the seller offered to throw in a small boat. “I’ve also seen Jet Skis made part of other waterfront deals,” says Jones.
- Gym membership: San Francisco–based real estate agent Roh Habibi has seen success when sellers throw in a free year-long Equinox gym membership. “You would be amazed at how many buyers love this gift,” says Habibi.
- First year’s HOA fees: Fred McGill, CEO and co-founder of SimpleShowing, remembers a buyer in Atlanta who was interested in a loft where the HOA fees were $200 a month. In order to seal the deal, the seller paid the first year’s HOA fees, or $2,400.
- Paid utility bills: According to Nate Masterson, a finance manager for Maple Holistics, “We had a seller who offered to cover half of the buyer’s utility bills for the first two months as an incentive to get the house sold.”
- A vacation voucher: Dustin Turner of the Home Team at Keller Williams Realty, in Central Arkansas, says the most interesting incentive he’s seen was a free vacation. “Savvy sellers can buy vacation travel vouchers from online vendors and give away a free vacation with the purchase of their home,” says Turner. “While this splashy approach might not appeal to every buyer, it will generate a lot of attention to the listing, and maybe just close the deal.”