“It’s really discouraging to tell an 8-year-old, ‘It’s not happening.’” That’s how one teary first-time buyer, Nicole, describes her despair after submitting losing offers on nearly a dozen properties. Nicole’s story is one of eight featured in the emotionally charged, inspirational Season 4 of “First-Time Buyer,” a series you and your customers can stream on Hulu or at firsttimebuyer.realtor. The series, produced by the National Association of REALTORS®, showcases the minute-by-minute value that agents who are REALTORS® provide in helping first-time buyers find and secure their dream homes.
Like all the buyers featured in the series, Nicole is fortunate to have a real estate professional by her side. Her agent, Cindy, helps her rethink her strategy and ultimately realize her dream. “In a season of life for me that’s kind of been tough to walk through, she’s brought a lot of energy and hope,” Nicole says. “If it wasn’t for Cindy, I would not be a homeowner right now.”
“When you put in an offer, it’s at least the start of the conversation.”
—Cindy Morrison, Chinowth & Cohen, Tulsa, Okla.
“Buying a home can be a legal, financial and emotional roller coaster for even the most seasoned buyers,” says NAR President Kevin Sears. “For first-time buyers, the support and professional representation—from someone who can be their champion, their confidante and often their friend—is especially important.”
Last year, first-time buyers made up 32% of all home buyers. That’s up from the historic low of 26% the previous year, but it’s still the fourth-lowest share in more than four decades of data collected by NAR. In a challenging landscape marked by low inventory and high interest rates, many first-time buyers remain hesitant to enter the market.
“First-Time Buyer,” launched in 2020 as part of NAR’s Consumer Advertising Campaign, demonstrates how a real estate professional can help first-timers overcome that hesitation by managing the process and by encouraging, educating and empowering their clients with actionable solutions.
“One of the primary reasons NAR exists is to protect and help people realize the American dream of homeownership,” says Sears, a broker-owner from Springfield, Mass., who became NAR president in January. “The ‘First-Time Buyer’ series puts that mission into action. From multigenerational families to newlyweds to young entrepreneurs, the buyers profiled this season know how important homeownership is to achieving financial security. The stories of how these buyers overcome unforeseen challenges to find and obtain their homes are a testament to the immense value that real estate agents and brokers who are REALTORS® provide in communities across the country.”
A Unique Learning Opportunity
Throughout this year’s series, released Jan. 30, the featured agents remain calm and solution-oriented as they help buyers overcome challenges ranging from financing snafus to an appraisal below the purchase price to the sting of multiple rejected offers.
What I love is the opportunity to serve my clients when they need me most—as they’re making likely the largest purchase they’ve ever made in their lives.”
—Lateefah Neal, NTS Realty Group, Chicago
“There are so many real estate reality shows out there. What makes ‘First-Time Buyer’ unique in this genre is that it’s where anyone—not just first-time buyers—can come to learn about the complex home-buying process and how important it is to have someone usher you through it,” says Alicia Bailey, NAR’s head of production, who worked alongside Happy Street Entertainment in the program’s development.
Happy Street handles the casting for “First-Time Buyer,” preventing any concerns about NAR choosing the featured members. “What’s remarkable about this year’s cast is the diversity and the fact that these are home buyers who want people to know about the positive experience they had—and that they couldn’t have done it without a real estate professional,” Bailey says.
A Timely Message
The stories told through “First-Time Buyer” are especially important in light of the recent Sitzer-Burnett verdict. NAR has made it clear it intends to appeal the Oct. 31 verdict, saying it reflects a deeply flawed understanding of how real estate professionals are compensated and the critical role they play in supporting their clients.
The compensation practice attacked in Sitzer-Burnett, in which listing brokers offer to compensate the broker who brings the ultimate buyer, benefits sellers by bringing more buyers to the market, thereby helping to ensure the sellers receive the best possible offer.
The practice also promotes access to homeownership. For many buyers, saving for a down payment and closing costs is difficult enough. With cooperative compensation, buyers benefit from professional representation without the burden of having to add broker compensation to the list of costs associated with a purchase and move. Adding broker compensation on top of closing costs would push the dream of homeownership even further out of reach for many. “The plaintiffs’ attorneys in Sitzer argued that buyer representation is unnecessary. As the stories in ‘First-Time Buyer’ make clear, that’s just not true,” Sears says.
The show’s secret sauce: real stories of real people.
“Our philosophy with ‘First-Time Buyer’—and the approach that Happy Street brings to all its projects—is authenticity,” Bailey says. “We wanted to dive deep into the storytelling and honor people’s experiences.”
The result is eight heartwarming stories of individuals and families who are navigating a huge moment, each one with its own unique situation. “And all along the way,” Bailey says, “we’re showcasing the value their agents bring to the homebuying experience.”