Make no payments for six months! It’s a familiar come-on from carpet companies and car dealers. Now one Chicago homebuilder is offering the same deal, but without the hidden interest charges that inflate payments later.

Yuval Degani, the head of Dreamtown, a Chicago agency that has some of my favorite online real-estate shopping tools, is also a developer. In Jefferson Park, the list price on two of Degani’s completed houses—four-bedroom brick residences at 5328 and 5330 West Argyle Street originally listed at $799,900 each—has been reduced by $200,000.

The houses have sat unsold for several months. To get them moving, Degani is now offering a very unusual deal: sign and get approval of a contract on one of the houses and move in now, but don’t close the sale or start making payments until six months later. During those six months, Degani suggests, the buyers can rest easier about getting their previous home sold, because they won’t be carrying two payments. “That’s what we’re competing with,” Degani says. “The house you have to sell before you can move.” If the buyers don’t have a previous home to sell—if, for instance, they are moving up from renting—the entire six months without a payment is gravy.

The reason the closing on the contract is postponed six months is that a seller can’t provide an equity contribution to a buyer after the sale. (“You used to see [deals where] you close now and move in, but your payments don’t start for six months, but the banks don’t accept that anymore,” says Degani.) By stalling the closing date but letting the contracted buyer move in, the sellers only slightly reduce their carrying costs—because the new residents will take over utility payments—but get a solid contract to put in front of their own lenders, even if it doesn’t finalize for six months. Degani says that unlike many other builders, he is not yet at risk of losing these homes in a short sale or foreclosure. “We can afford to hold them for six months if that gets them sold,” he says. Of course, any homebuyer who wants to consider these terms should consult an attorney and an accountant before signing the contract.

Hitting the Tweet Spot: I’ve been Twittering the past few weeks—tweeting about unusual homes under construction, noteworthy sales, and sobering real-estate articles in the papers. If you’re on Twitter, look for me at  But don’t worry: unlike David Gregory of NBC or Roland Hedley of Doonesbury, I don’t tweet about whether I’m going to have a snack. It’s all real estate, all the time.

Photo courtesy of Dreamtown