How to target first-time buyers when selling your home

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The first-time home buyer tax credit expires Dec. 31, so if you're looking to target that market on the sale of your own home, you need to hurry.

That's because in order to qualify for the credit, the closing needs to happen by Dec. 31, and it usually takes several months before a signed and accepted offer turns into a closing. Sure, it's possible that there will be a new housing tax incentive for 2010, but it's also possible that there won't be.

The Wall Street Journaloffers some nice tips (subscription required) on targeting first-time buyers: Stage the home well, help pay closing costs and put that in the ad, offer a warranty, respond to all offers (even low ones!), and offer to help the buyer make several months of payments in the event that she loses her job.

Another idea: Offer to sell the home partially furnished (if your furniture is decent). While most trade-up buyers will have their own furniture, a large percentage of first-time buyers won't -- or at least won't want the stuff they bought at Ikea to fill up an apartment to come along with them now that they're homeowners. Alternatively, you could offer a small furnishing allowance to any first-time buyer.

First-time buyers make up a record percentage of the housing market right now, as falling prices and high foreclosure rates allow people to scoop up homes with no money down, after factoring in the value of the tax credit.
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