The Drees Co. has found a way to handle objections that should impress even the most depressed builder sales manager coping with this down market.

Terry Sievers, president of the company's Midwest region, says in dealing closely with customers, the builder came to realize that one of the main objections buyers have to signing a contract is that they can't sell their existing homes. He says sometimes homes stay on the market for six months to a year, frustrating people who are ready to buy, but are stuck in the slow real estate market.

Starting in mid-June, Drees launched its "Build with Confidence" program for its Zaring Premier line in the Midwest region, with homes that typically sell for around $500,000.

The program is simple: If a buyer does not sell their old home at the time of closing, Drees will set up an escrow account and pay the mortgage on the existing home for up to 12 months. If the home sells in four months, for example, the remaining eight months of escrow money goes back to Drees.

"We like our buyers to think of this as an insurance policy," says Sievers, who adds that one of the reasons Drees started this program with its high-end homes is that while buyers are not obligated to pay for both mortgages, they must qualify for two mortgages.

Since the program launched, Sievers says Drees has signed at least one contract and hopes to roll the program out to its nine-state trade area.