Condo Incentives, Part 2

By: Mary Clare Glover

After posting A Taste of Las Vegas in Arlington earlier this week, I got an email from Nancy Itteilag, a Long & Foster real-estate agent selling condos in Turnberry Tower.  She said the final sentence of this paragraph was misleading:

“Is Washington’s cooling condo market affecting sales? The Turnberry Tower sales office says the building is almost 40 percent sold. However, a December 2 Washington Post article reported that Turnberry is offering a Bahamas vacation to real-estate agents who sell units in the building, an indication that sales may be slower than expected.”

Here's an excerpt about Turnberry Tower's offer in "Condo Developers Sweeten The Bait," the December 2 article from the Washington Post:

"'At one point the builders wouldn't even let us bring the clients we were representing,' said Charlene Lois Schaper, an agent at Long & Foster in Old Town Alexandria. 'Now they're offering us bonuses, paying us commissions and serving us lunch.'

Schaper now has a sheaf of fliers she's received from developers... [one] firm dangled a 'fantastic getaway for two adults' at the One&Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas for those who sell units at the Turnberry Tower in Arlington. 'The more homes you sell, the more lavish and exciting your One&Only Ocean Club vacation becomes,' according to the brochure." 

Conventional wisdom says that developers, builders, and owners offer incentives when sales are down. (Here's a piece about incentives from December Capital Comment) When the market was really hot a few years ago, real-estate agents and buyers saw few incentives; the Post article pointed out that "many companies saw no need to compensate agents because buyers were lining up outside their doors on their own." But as the market has cooled, the number of incentives has steadily increased. 

Itteilag, who says that Turnberry's sales are "very steady," says the trip to the Bahamas "was offered only to Long & Foster agents who brought buyers to our Long & Foster Turnberry listing. It is not something that is offered to all agents." And she adds that it "was brought about because more Long & Foster agents brought buyers to our building than any other company and two agents in particular had multiple clients buy. Our program was to reward them and keep that momentum going.”