Back in November, as you’ll remember, President Obama extended the expiration date on the first time home buyer tax credit and sweetened the deal for those prospective buyers looking to step up their dwellings. April 30 is the new drop-dead date for the extended tax credit and it’s going to be here before we know it. The nation’s largest home builders are going out of their way to remind the public of the deadline, plastering the headlines on their Web site, but what are they doing to do keep the housing market active when it’s time to face reality?
We’re beginning to see some home builders offering new features to keep homeownership in the minds of potential buyers, regardless of how an extension of the bill plays out. In early March, for example, Lennar Homes announced their plans to offer, standard, an energy efficient home package designed to cut energy usage by 40%. Home energy monitors, energy efficient appliances, and even rooftop solar paneling, are becoming built-in features. Beazer is offering up to an additional $8,000 on their eSmart high performance homes. Green homes are selling, and at higher prices.
The latest comes from KB Home. Just yesterday they announced plans to offer the option of pre-wired homes for charging electric cars as part of their Made to Order™ homes program. ”KB Home is building new homes that are relevant to the way homebuyers are living – now and in the future,” said Jeffrey Mezger, president and chief executive officer of KB Home. “This is just one of many innovative and earth-friendly options that homeowners can choose from as part of KB Home’s Built to Order experience. It’s a great feature for homebuyers who currently drive electric cars, or for those who want to build their new home to accommodate these cars in the future.”
Knowing that time is running out, relatively speaking, it should be interesting to see how the factors of an economic upswing, marketing offerings from builders, and other variables combine to impact sale of new homes in this final 50-day stretch. Meanwhile, many will be waiting out the tax credit, as they expect prices will fall even further. What’s it going to take to save the housing industry?