First-time homebuyers are a niche market among all buyers. They all have in common that they have never bought a house before, so the processes involved are new to them. So much of the journey in working with first-time buyers is about educating them and asking better questions to understand where they are and what they need to move forward. In today’s episode, Monica and her guest, Rich Sands, discuss many ways that we as agents can help our clients who are first-time homebuyers.
Working with buyers and sellers are two different ends of the same spectrum. Having systems are true for working with both; you need effectiveness and efficiency. Thirty-three to 39 percent of buyers are first-time homebuyers. Some challenges that first-time homebuyers face in today’s market is that mortgages are harder to get and prices have gone up. The main thing that makes first-time buyers unique is that they have never done this before. As an agent, you have to have an educator mindset.
For many first-time homebuyers, you have to figure out what the money situation is. Will they be paying cash or have you arranged for financing? Most will finance their first property, and you can usually find properties that are less than or equal to the cost of renting. One of the challenges of being an agent is working with people from different generations. Each one poses a different set of needs and desires. What is important for agents is finding a good lender for your clients.
When looking for lenders, look for lenders who do the products that are most beneficial for first-time homebuyers (HomeReady and Home Possible®). You want someone who is able to effectively implement these programs, not just someone who knows about them.
Some of the associated costs with owning a home are the transaction costs — closing cost, fees, etc. — as well as maintenance costs like electric and cable bills or regular service. A good idea for agents is to have a checklist of some of the other costs homeowners have in addition to their mortgage. This will help your clients be prepared for all costs so they aren’t blindsided.
As we mentioned before, first-time homebuyers are not all young. There are first-time homebuyers from a wide range of ages; with that comes a wide range of experience, situations, and financial background. There are systems we can use to inform our clients. We can help explain the process of buying a home, both looking for one and then writing the contract. They also need help with financing and understanding the market. One of the best things we can do as a REALTOR® is to understand what they want and what they’re trying to accomplish. Working with first-time homebuyers also requires a lot of patience.
Being a great listener and a great asker of questions is crucial to understanding what your clients want. The three most important questions you can use to clarify are “What do you mean?,” “Why is that?,” and “What else?” When we give ourselves permission to slow down and really be with our clients, we will be able to hear them better and determine their needs.
An agent also has to be a great explainer. They have to be able to take any aspect of the process and make it concise and understandable and present it in a way that works for the recipient. Another requirement is that an agent be technologically flexible. It’s also important to have strong leadership qualities.
If you are someone who really enjoys helping people and wants to help first-time homebuyers, you can market to your sphere of influence to find those buyers. As a REALTOR®, it’s important to be aware of what’s important to different generations, so when you’re introduced to them and you want to move into something new, you’ve already learned about some ways to adapt. Another way to find first-time buyers is to make sure you have a good website and have a social media presence. You can find the right platform based on your skill set; if you can write, make a blog. If you have a personality, maybe think about video. And if you have a lot of information, maybe the podcast route is the way for you. You can get started by sharing to a wider audience your answers to questions from clients.
As a REALTOR®, we have to be the person that our buyers need. It’s not necessarily changing who we are, but being flexible so that we can understand and accommodate first-time homebuyers. Instead of thinking about them as a transaction, think of them as people who are going through one of the most fundamental aspects of the American dream.
About Rich Sands
Rich Sands has been a teacher his whole life. He started out as a high school teacher and a running coach. He became a REALTOR® and also the Director of Education of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Colorado.
There isn’t a time when Rich Sands doesn’t remember leading a class full of students. For fifteen years he brought out the best in high school students. He took that leadership to the real estate industry where he rose to the position of Director of Education, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Colorado and revolutionized the company’s training services for more than 2,000 managers, agents and staff.
Now, an experienced international presenter, instructor, and keynote specialist, Rich specializes in helping people master their sales skills in any situation. His flagship presentations, “Why Your Grandparents Should Direct Your Marketing,” and “Creating Listing Abundance” integrate the key practices needed to engage and impress consumers of all kinds.
Presently, he is President of Rich Sands Seminars and works closely with international real estate franchise systems, independent brokerages and companies in all industries that want to bring out the best in their people. As a NAR/REBAC and Certified CRS instructor, he conducts dozens of courses each year for the National Association of REALTORS® and Council of Residential Specialists.
Rich and his wife, Linda, live near Denver, Colorado. She is a kitchen and closet designer and an elliptical girl. He has two sons: Matt and Ryan and two step-daughters: Angela and Alicia
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