What It’s Really Like Working with First-Time Home Buyers

Cardinal Financial March 13, 2019 | 6 min read
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Working with first-time home buyers can be a good challenge.

If you’re a real estate agent and you’ve had some interesting experiences working with first-time home buyers, don’t worry—you’re not alone. We’ve heard a lot of stories. Today’s first-time home buyers can be a challenge. But they’re not impossible to work with—or to please. A little peek into some commonalities on what it’s like working with first-time home buyers and you’ll have a better chance at a smooth, successful real estate transaction.

Today’s first-time home buyers can be a challenge. But they’re not impossible to work with—or to please.

1. working with short attention spans

We’re in the thick of the digital age, and that means attention spans are getting shorter. First-time home buyers can be especially prone to short attention spans. Home buying is a wild ride and an exciting time. But right now especially, they’re being pulled in all different directions. Even though they’re buying a home and that’s a big milestone, life goes on. Everyday demands still persist and that means they may be distracted. Holding their attention will be a constant challenge. How can you remedy the shrinking attention span? Be efficient. Be thorough. Communicate well and often. It’s going to keep you on your toes but it will be worth it.

First-Time Home Buyer Questions to Ask

2. video is a value

Now more than ever, video is king in the world of web content. It ranks better than words or photos in search engines. It captures attention better than any other media format. YouTube alone boasts that one billion hours of video are watched daily, generating billions of views. And get this: 18- to 34-year-olds are the largest cohort watching YouTube today. This and other staggering statistics like it should tell real estate agents one thing: first-time home buyers want video. If it’s a major part of their day-to-day lives, their home buying experience should be no different.

When working with first-time home buyers, think about how you can incorporate video into the process. Offering video home walkthroughs is a great start. You can add these to the photo gallery in the home’s online listing. This helps the home buyers feel like they’re there without having to physically be there. And if they truly can’t be there, are you willing to video chat with them and do walkthroughs that way? It’s a stretch, but it if works and helps you make the sale, why not try it?

3. you’ll deal with skeptics

One of the biggest challenges real estate agents are faced with when working with first-time home buyers is the skeptics. These are the home buyers who have done hours of research and, therefore, think they know it all. They will have an opinion for everything you bring to the table. A word of encouragement: don’t be frustrated with them. Deep down, they’re probably the most nervous of all home buyers and so by doing all this research, they try to remove risk. It will be up to you to not just show but convince them that you have their best interest at heart, you know what you’re doing, and you’re there for them, whatever they need.

4. wants vs. needs is a balancing act

According to research done by the NAR, 41% of first-time home buyers carry around $29,000 in student debt. They’re also 32 years old and make an average household income of $75,000 per year. We’re talking Millennials here. And we know that Millennials famously have expensive taste but lack the budget to afford it. This sets the stage for turnkey buyers who want high-paying amenities they can’t afford. When working with first-time home buyers like these, managing expectations will be key.

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If you can help them balance out their wants and needs, you’ll be their best friend. Let’s say you’re walking through a house that’s in their price range. It’s not the flashiest, nor does it have the best views, but they can nicely afford it. As you show them around, they don’t look too thrilled. This is where you have to get creative. Talk about how they can work with what they’ve got. Think about remodeling that other clients have done and help them see how they could do the same. It might not be their dream home, but when you’re on a budget, your first home rarely is. As their real estate agent and advocate in this process, it’ll be up to you show them how they can fix up a decent home and make it their dream home.

It might not be their dream home, but when you’re on a budget, your first home rarely is.

5. They expect you to know your stuff

I’ll just say it: first-time home buyers today want excellent customer service. They want the royal treatment. It’s their first time, so they’re not sure what to expect. But that’s exactly why they’ll want you to go above and beyond. They’ll want to feel like they’re your only client. Sounds pretty much impossible, right? While you’re very busy and have lots of clients to please, how do you make them feel like they’re the only client in your world?

To pull this off, you’ll need to be super knowledgeable and well connected in your local market. Even if you’re not as established as other real estate agents, you can do this. It just takes time and effort. Do some digging: find out what first-time home buyer, down payment assistance, and tax assistance programs are available in the area your buyers are looking in. If you can help them save a buck, they’ll love you and probably give you a great referral. Remember, you’re working commission here! Even if you’re not familiar with money-saving programs they can apply for, tell them you’ll research and find out. Then, actually do it. It’s OK if you don’t have an immediate solution. If you demonstrate that you’re working for them, it’ll make working with them that much easier.

What’s been your biggest challenge working with first-time home buyers? Tell us on social media!

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