With Vancouver real estate prices in a free fall, and no end in sight, condo developers and sales teams are offering big incentives to entice buyers.

The next four families to purchase two or three-bedroom homes at The Eliot at Norquay project will have their strata fees, property taxes, and mortgage interest covered for one year.

“This is a one-of-a-kind offering,” said sales director Adil Dinani. “From our understanding, this is the only development in the City of Vancouver, and even throughout Greater Vancouver, that’s offering a full one year live-for-free program.”

Construction has not yet begun on the East Vancouver project -- at the moment, it’s not even a hole in the ground, but the pre-sale presentation centre is open on nearby Kingsway.

“The first question everyone always has is, what’s the catch? And the reality is, in this case, there is no catch,” said Dinani.

But in this uncertain market, there could be one big catch.

“I think we’re likely to see completion of condos, not this year necessarily, but in the next couple of years, where people bought at pre-sale prices greater than the condos are worth,” said Tom Davidoff from UBC’s Sauder School of Business.

Davidoff says thousands of condo units are nearing completion in the next couple of years, and if some of the people who made deposits decide they don’t want to follow through and close the deal, those units could flood the market, potentially driving prices even further down.

That in turn could encourage more developers and sales teams to offer buyer incentives.

“It’s a complicated calculation how you trade off incentives versus pricing for a developer,” said Davidoff. “A year of free mortgage payments is certainly an enticement.”