Southside competitors come together-WEB ONLY

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A coalition of local brokers and real estate companies are joining forces on the south side to promote the new federal tax credit for first-time homeowners in an attempt to stimulate the sluggish real estate market.

The Southside Housing Alliance, comprised of about 20 brokers and lenders, is blanketing the area with signs and advertisements to help attract home buyers.

Such an effort to bring together competing real estate companies may have been unconventional in the past, but experts say it now makes sense as brokers look to spur sales.

“Right now there’s a lack of confidence in the market, and so by getting … potential home buyers willing to invest money in real estate, it’s going to help them all,” said Jeffrey D. Fisher, director of the Center for Real Estate Studies at Indiana University. “We’ve all got to get together and do something.”

While traditional real estate associations such as the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors have existed for years, Fisher said it’s still relatively rare to see individual firms and competing brokers linking up with each other.

“I hadn’t heard of that,” he said.

The alliance, which came to fruition in late 2008, wants to quell negative media reports casting the real estate industry in a state of crisis, said Janice Kernel, a south-side broker and a member of the organization.

She said many national news stories focus on distressed markets in places such as California, Florida or Texas, even though Indianapolis is faring better.

“Our area has not been like so many of the other markets,” she said. “I tell people: ‘The weather is not national, the weather is local, and so is your real estate market.'”

Kernel said she’s seeing increased activity on her listings and hearing from more and more buyers interested in the $8,000 tax credit.

The credit is part of a recently passed federal stimulus bill that allows first-time homeowners, or people who have not owned a home in three years, to receive a tax savings if they purchase a property by Dec. 1. Unlike an earlier tax credit, this one does not need to be paid back.

The alliance plans to roll out another signage campaign in the coming weeks, Kernel said.

Such teamwork between brokers is uncommon, she admits, but productive.

“It’s just such a competitive business,” Kernel said. “I think that’s the most unusual thing about it. We’re all willing to sit down and say, ‘What can we do to help everybody get busy again?'”

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