In a slow housing market, real estate developers typically either reduce their asking prices or offer expensive upgrades such as cherry floors or marble counter tops at no charge as incentives for home buyers to whip out their checkbooks. Clarum Homes, makers of energy-efficient houses, is taking a drastically different approach. To quickly sell off the last five units in the Pajaro development in Watsonville, CA, they are offering a free Toyota Prius with each house. The homes are priced between $585,000 and $635,000.
Clarum, now a leader in "green building," started their environmental quest by installing solar electric systems as standard equipment. In 2002, they introduced a Zero Energy Home prototype called the Enviro-Home for which they received the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star rating, ConSol's ComfortWise designation, and the Building Industry Institute's California Green Builder Certification.

Executives at Clarum said they decided the free hybrids would do more for the environment than a price cut.

[Source: Associated Press via The San Jose Mercury News]

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