Developer tries to lure big fish with Bentley

If you build it, they will come. If you want them to buy it, throw in a $200,000 Bentley.


At least, that's what an Arizona homebuilder is hoping as it tries to unload a pair of multimillion-dollar custom homes that have been languishing on the market for about a year.

The homes are in Paradise Valley, a wealthy Phoenix suburb. Each home is selling for about $1 million less than the original price, according to Five Star Development Group, based in Scottsdale.

One property, dubbed the Old-World European Villa, measures more than 7,800 square feet and is priced at slightly less than $5 million.

The second one, named the Tuscan Estate, has five bedrooms, 51/2 baths and measures around 7,500 square feet. It's listed for just less than $4 million.

To sweeten the deal, Five Star it is offering buyers for each of the homes a free 2009 Bentley Continental GT, valued at around $200,000.

For buyers who don't dig the Bentley, Five Star is offering either a 50-hour card good for rides on a NetJets aircraft or an annual one-month vacation stay at a New Port Beach Marriott hotel for life.

Should a buyer prefer to knock off $200,000 from the price of the homes, that's another option, Five Star spokesman Brendan Mann said.

The glitzy incentives definitely raise the stakes in the industry trend. For more than a year, homebuilders have been slashing prices and offering all sorts of incentives, including upgrades on interior finishes including countertops or flooring, to flat-screen TVs and cars.

One might expect that for a wealthy buyer, who likely could easily afford a Bentley on his or her own, the incentive on its face might not be a significant lure.

But Five Star says its offer is more about generating buzz and getting the rich folks out to open houses.

"The people that we're speaking about can go buy anything they want; it isn't really about that," Mr. Mann said. "We just want people to tune into us."

Five Star hasn't bought any Bentleys yet but will be parking loaners outside the two homes during the open houses.

The developer hopes to appeal to wealthy snowbirds looking to wait out the winter in Arizona.

The prospect of having a Bentley come with the house, thereby avoiding the hassle of shipping or buying a car to drive locally, might appeal to them, Mr. Mann suggested.

If the Bentley promotion doesn't yield a sale, what's next?

"We're probably at the point where it's unlikely that the offer is going to get sweetened any more," Mr. Mann said.