By Maddie Jostol, Marketing Manager
As a first-time home buyer, where do you even begin? Saving enough cash to cover a down payment is a big enough hurdle to get over, but that’s just the beginning. The entire process can be intimidating and overwhelming. Mortgages, offers and negotiations, inspections, homeowners insurance, property taxes, the list goes on. That’s where you come in.
If you make the process an exciting, simple one for a first-time home buyer, you have an advocate and referral source for life. Currently, Millennials are the largest generation of home buyers in the U.S., which means you need to be able to tailor your service to the needs and expectations of these buyers.
Here’s what today’s market looks like with regards to first-time home buyers:
- 35% of buyers are first-time home buyers
- 66% of first-time home buyers are under the age of 37
- Median age is 32
- 58% are married, 14% are unmarried couples
- 60% have no children, 19% have one, 15% have two
So, what are they looking for in their first home buying experiences? What are their expectations and how can you, as a real estate agent, deliver on those expectations? Below are a few of the questions a first-time home buyer is likely thinking as they embark on the journey of finding their dream home.
How am I going to be able to afford this?
Sure, it isn’t your place to give them a lecture in financial planning, but you are the expert in real estate transactions here. If there are resources available to them that they might not know about, be sure to mention them.
For a first-time home buyer, money is typically the primary hurdle they need to overcome mentally, especially considering home prices have been rising faster than incomes in recent years. Take into account that a first-time home buyer might also have financial considerations such as student debt or plans of starting a family. Offer resources and educational materials where appropriate to give them all the tools they need to be able to complete the transaction with peace of mind. They’re going to be concerned with affordability and you’re there to help them realize their dream of becoming a homeowner.
How will you be communicating with me?
Remember, this is a new type of relationship for them. You want to set the stage for them so they know exactly what they can expect from you, so let them know when and how they’ll hear from you. Even better, ask them for their preferred method of communication (text, call, email, Facebook messenger, carrier pigeon, etc). This way, your communications will be convenient for them and you’ll be able to reach them easily.
Where can I find the most up-to-date information?
A whole lot of information is already at their fingertips. You must meet their expectations of accurate, up-to-date data. They need to trust that you’ll be providing them with all of the information they need, so they don’t get sucked into internet searches that overwhelm and confuse them. Give them the peace of mind of knowing that you’ll be providing them with accurate, real-time MLS data and the necessary context to accompany it.
How much work will this require?
Not just the process of buying the home, but beyond that. For example, fixer-uppers might be appealing to first-time home buyers because of their low price, but the thought of a remodel could be overwhelming for someone who has never done that before. Keep in mind these are new homeowners who could be nervous at the thought of pouring cash and time into a giant remodel. Ask these questions up-front so you have a good idea of what they’re prepared to take on – or not.
How long should this process take?
A first-time home buyer might be unfamiliar with all of the steps of a home-buying process, especially the less glamorous ones that often aren’t talked about. Educate them on the process around open houses, making an offer, negotiating, inspections, and closing, so they understand the variables and timing of buying a home. They’ll have a more realistic understanding of how long the process takes, and will find comfort in knowing you’re there to guide them every step of the way.