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Thinking Outside the Box

That comment, in and of itself, doesn’t seem so “out of the box” anymore, but the premise holds true today more than ever.  With the current shape of the housing market, you and I as home sellers and/or Realtors® must think way-outside the box.  Take a look at what Bob Fanning of western Wisconsin did to induce the sale of his home:

By Pam Louwagie – Minneapolis Star Tribune –

8:35 AM CDT, April 4, 2008



Whoever buys Bob Fanning’s house will hope he dies. And Fanning is fine with that.


Trying to separate his 5,600 square-foot western Wisconsin home from others in the real estate glut, Fanning, 69, has come up with an odd incentive: The buyer will be named beneficiary to a 10-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy. If Fanning dies in that time, the purchase price of the Whitehall, Wis., home — listed at $498,900 — is covered.


“He’s an outside-the-box thinker, no question about it,” said his Realtor, Wayne Peters.


Most younger sellers couldn’t plausibly use such a sales tactic, Peters said, but when someone is 69 “the odds are getting to the point where people realize that there’s a significant chance that they could collect.”


Fanning, who said he has taken his share of risks as a businessman, said he thinks it’s a great deal.


It would be voided if there are any shenanigans, though.


“The policy says he can’t commit suicide, nor can they knock him off,” Peters said. “The attorneys have provided for that.”


But isn’t Fanning afraid of any, er, “unfortunate accidents”?


“I had maybe a 10-second thought about that when we signed the policy,” Fanning said. “I’m pretty low profile to begin with.”


His wife, Janus, said she is supportive of his entrepreneurial thinking. “I’m always in awe of how he comes up with a different way of doing things,” she said. “It’s a perk for the house.”


As for the odds: Fanning said he has no health problems, though he joked that he’s “too short” for his weight. Both his parents died before age 79, as did a sister.


He said he’d be willing to disclose medical records to a buyer.


Without being specific, Fanning said he paid a hefty price for the insurance policy “because actuary tables show I might not reach 79, so I think it’s a hell of an incentive to buy a home.”


In Fanning’s mind, it’s not taboo to put a price on his head, as well as on his house.


“When you get to this age,” he said, “death is something you have to start to deal with.”

It’s this kind of thinking outside the box that will entice a wavering homebuyer in a minute! Way to go Mr. Fanning!

For the majority of us – who may not be to the age where an incentive like this actually has any value – we need to sit back and think creatively about what we can do to sell our homes in market that is more saturated today (with stock) than it ever has been in recent history!  Happy Selling!

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