In a Down Market, Home Buyer Gets Maserati

Prospective buyers of a $5 million Bel-Air home are being offered a free two-year lease on a Maserati Coupe. The home was on the market two months with no offers.

Why don't those owners just lower the home's price?

"When you're walking somebody through here and you see a car here, it's still more exciting than saying, 'I have a $24,000 price reduction or a $50,000 price reduction,' when you see a car here with a bow on it," one realtor said.

After throwing in the Maserati, the owner quickly received three bids.

"Consumers are really into the transaction, the excitement of the transaction," Johnson said. "And here in California, if you can kind of sex up the deal, it really makes everybody happy."

New home developers also are feeling the heat, offering big incentives like signing discounts of up to $150,000 and luxurious kitchen and bathroom upgrades.

"They are definitely in the 'let's make a deal' mode," Johnson said.

Centex Homes even employs actors who play the role of happy homeowners having a birthday party during open houses.

"It's really fun watching people sing 'Happy Birthday' together," said Amanda Larson, a Centex Homes marketer. "It's one of those American things. Like owning a house."

"No matter what the market does, one thing is always going to hold true," said Centex's Jim Garfield. "People want to own their own homes."

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