Purchasing a home isn’t an easy process, especially when it’s for the first time. Financing, credit scores, pre-approval, inspections, appraisals ‒ without the right help, a lot of people wind up lost and overwhelmed. On the other hand, a good real estate agent can help them secure a home without a lot of stress and confusion. If you’re working with a first-time home buyer, here are six ways you can make their experience as smooth as possible.
See If They Qualify
For most people, a first-time homebuyer is someone who has never owned a home before. But for the government, they’re:
- Someone who hasn’t owned a primary residence in the past three years
- Someone buying a home with a spouse who also hasn’t owned a primary residence in the past three years
- A single parent who only owned a home when previously married
- A homeowner whose primary residence wasn’t permanently attached to its foundation
- Someone who owned property that didn’t comply with building codes
- A homemaker who only owned a house with their spouse
Many first-time homebuyers qualify for special assistance, such as FHA loans, VA mortgages, or FannieMae HomeReady Mortgages. These programs offer low-interest loans and assist qualified buyers who can’t afford a down payment.
Explain the Market
Unless they work in construction or real estate, home buyers typically don’t know much about the housing market. As a result, agents need to get them up to speed on prices, interest rates, and availability. Buyers sometimes aim too low or too high, but once they understand the situation, they’ll be able to select the right house to meet their needs.
In some cases, with your help, they might realize they can afford a larger home than they imagined. Or perhaps a smaller one would suit them better. Or that moving to a different community will offer them better choices. There might even be factors (schools, taxes, HOA fees, etc.) they hadn’t considered at all. Remember, first-time buyers are coming in blind. They’re relying on the professional knowledge of their real estate agent to guide them to the right home.
Walk Them Through the Key Steps
Home buying can be overwhelming. There are a lot of forms, procedures, and approvals clients have to go through before being handed the keys to their new home. Make sure they know what to expect. Take them through the process one step at a time.
Explain what you need to make an offer, what will happen after it’s accepted, and the points where they can change their mind. You don’t want any surprises. Informed buyers are not only happier and easy to work with, but they’ll help improve your reputation and make it easier to attract new customers in the future.
Direct Them Towards Credible Lenders
First-time home buyers know what they want, but not what they can afford. Ask about their lender. They may have one already. If not, steer them towards a trustworthy bank and put them in contact with a broker who can provide solid financial advice.
Alert Them to Potential Red Flags
Because they’re inexperienced, first-time home buyers can sometimes become fixated on a property that isn’t a good fit for them. Before making an offer, be sure they understand the potential pitfalls of the home they’re buying. A house that looks perfect may have structural or legal issues that cause problems down the road. Even if the buyer decides it’s worth the risk, at least they’ll be prepared for them.
Alert Them About New Homes
Home buyers need to move fast to succeed in today’s housing market. Competition is fierce. In this environment, the best way to help buyers is to make sure they know when new homes go on sale, either through a phone call, text, or email.