Free pizza for life seals deal in hot housing market

In Portland, Ore., one bidder for a house offered free pizza for life, and that was the winning bid for a new home. How hot is the US housing market?

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A woman carries a replica slice of pizza, in order to find separated friends in the crowd, at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California April 12, 2015.

In Portland's hot real estate market where some homes are getting dozens of offers and bidding wars have sent prices skyrocketing, one buyer found a way to stand out among the rest: Offer free pizza every month for life.

Donna DiNicola, owner of DiNicola's Italian Restaurant in southeast Portland, might have been joking when she offered the pizza, but it worked. Her offer for a 900 square foot (83.6 sq meter) house in southeast Portland for her 23-year-old son was accepted.

"It was really a joke," she said. "I swear to you I did not know that made it into the paperwork."

DiNicola, who has been in business for 38 years, saw the Portland market heating up and encouraged her two sons to start looking.

"I thought, well time is ticking and we've got to get into this market," she said, adding the house was perfect even though it was at the top of their price range after offering $275,000 and two months of free rent for the sellers.

"Donna's offer was just so compelling and the fact that she offered 60 days of rent back for free, which is practically unheard of," said Holly Marsh, the home seller. "And then the pizza part was just hilarious. It just goes to show they really did something to stand out among the offers."

Marsh, who has a 5-month-old baby and a son turning four on Thursday, said they might just take up that pizza offer for their son's birthday dinner. Marsh, who designs and sews baby items locally, said the family decided to sell after outgrowing their Portland home.

The housing market in Portland is exploding as more people flock to the area thanks to national top 10 lists and shows like Portlandia.

"Everything's going pending in a couple days. Almost everything's getting multiple offers," said Nathaniel Bachelder, Urban Nest Realty listing agent for the loosely dubbed "pizza house." He added housing inventory for March and April was less than two months.

DiNicola said the minute they walked into the house for her son they knew it was the one.

"We just went 'wow',” she said, adding she is thrilled to share her pizza with Marsh and her family. "They can have whatever they want."

 As The Christian Science Monitor reported, home sales are rebounding. 

After months of disappointing results, sales of existing homes in the US heated up 6.1 percent in March to a 5.19 million annualized pace, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). That was a big increase from the 4.89 million pace recorded in February, and analysts had expected a smaller rise, to about a 5.03 million rate. The increase was the best monthly showing for existing home sales in 18 months.

Existing sales accelerated in all regions of the country. The Midwest had the largest jump, at 10.1 percent. The Northeast, West, and South saw increases of 6.9 percent, 6.3 percent, and 3.8 percent, respectively.

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"After a quiet start to the year, sales activity picked up greatly throughout the country in March," NAR chief economist Laurence Yun said in the NAR’s report. "The combination of low interest rates and the ongoing stability in the job market is improving buyer confidence and finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years."

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)

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