How can Realtors get sellers — and buyers — motivated? In Ohio, homebuilder Trinity Homes is turning to a page from the automotive industry to move inventory: home trade-ins.

Columbus-based Trinity Homes, the largest homebuilder in central Ohio, has partnered with HER Realtors, the largest volume real estate brokerage in central Ohio, to promote the new home trade-in program.

Here’s how the program works: First, a seller fills out his contact information on the HER Realtors website. Next, a HER Realtor contacts the seller, explains the program and introduces the seller to a Trinity representative. Then, two walk-through appraisals are scheduled to assess the fair market value of the existing home and to determine the price Trinity will offer the seller for the home. Trinity purchases the home “as is” and coordinates back-to-back closing for both the new and the existing homes.

The seller has several days to accept or decline the Trinity offer. Meanwhile, the seller can either choose to move into one of Trinity’s new spec homes or start construction on a custom home. Or the seller can live in his current home until the new custom home is completed.

The trade-in program calls for Trinity to buy the home of a client if the seller is unable to sell the home within six months. If the home is sold within six months, the homebuyer will receive either a discount or upgrades in his new Trinity home. The Trinity Homes/HER Realtors trade-in program is designed for people who want to purchase a new home but need to sell their current home first. The new home purchased from Trinity Homes has to be priced just $1 more than the existing-home sale.

“As the housing market continues to rebound, homeowners with narrow equity are looking for ways to get into a new home,” says Michael Mahon, executive vice president and broker with HER Realtors in Columbus, Ohio, referring to underwater homeowners looking to sell their properties. “We are offering our clients a guaranteed sale. If their home doesn’t sell during the six-month building period, Trinity Homes will buy their home.”

Under the agreement, HER agents will list homes built by Trinity Homes and its subsidiaries, Ambassador Homes and Homewood Homes, says Mahon. In addition, HER Realtors will list the homes of Trinity’s clients who are participating in the home trade-in program.

“We’re pretty excited about this program,” Mahon says. “In the past six months, we’ve had 76 sales.”

“It was a wonderful experience,” says Heather Waits, the owner of Bloomtastic Florist. “For us, it really made a lot of sense. With two young kids and a busy floral shop, we didn’t have time to paint and do repairs to our condo in order to sell it. It was such a smooth transition from the condo to the new home.”

Trinity paid the Waitses $100,000 for their two-bedroom condo, which sold in 26 hours. The Waitses paid $328,000 for the new custom home in Granville, which is located about 30 miles east of downtown Columbus.

Jayson Waits says it took 12 months to build his custom Trinity home, but he also says it was worth the wait.

“They’re having huge success with this program,” he says. “It’s very popular. We sold our condo in 26 hours. We received offers over the listing price.”

Read the entire article in RealtyTrac’s February 2015 newsletter — now free with Inman Select membership.

Octavio Nuiry is the managing editor of RealtyTrac.

Email Octavio Nuiry.

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