Understand first-time homebuyers
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Today’s first-time homebuyers are different from those who came before
First-time homebuyers make up 35% of all homebuyers. Their average age, at 32 years, is 30 years younger than the average age of repeat homebuyers, according to National Association of REALTORS® 2016 statistics.
More than half of first-time homebuyers are married. As a group, first-time buyers paid an average $182,500 for their homes — 82% of which were detached single-family properties, according to the 2016 report from NAR. Compared to repeat buyers, first-timers tend to earn less and pay less for a home than their more experienced counterparts. And, as one might expect, marketing to first-time homebuyers isn’t quite the same as marketing to repeat buyers, said Coldwell Banker Senior Vice President of Marketing David Marine.

While experienced buyers have some level of familiarity with the process, first-time buyers don’t, Marine said. “It’s a pretty daunting task. This is possibly the largest check that you’ll ever write, the single largest investment that you’ll ever make,” Marine said. “So (first-time buyers), more so than anyone, are looking for that guide to walk them through the process.”
Tip #2: Connect with new homebuyers using their preferred forms of communication
Real estate agents rely on effective communications with their clients. For many repeat buyers, that might mean picking up a phone and calling. Younger generations might prefer text, Facebook Messenger or email, Marine said. Whatever the client’s preference, it’s essential that real estate agents adjust and oblige, he said. “… There’s nothing worse than someone who wants to simply send a text back and forth, but finds themselves working with an agent who only talks to them on the phone,” Marine said.
Tip #1: Create an experience and be that trusted resource
“The way that agents can better market to first-time homebuyers is by creating more content around the real estate process, rather than just marketing a property,” Marine said. “Whether it’s through video, social content or reviews on sites like Yelp, positioning [oneself] as the expert in the marketplace (who) can be that trusted advisor is the key to winning over that demographic.” Edwards agreed that showcasing the agent’s talents is a must to attract new homebuyers. “By sharing testimonials from past clients who were first-time homebuyers, and promoting stories on social media that resulted in positive outcomes for clients, it shows you’re capable of getting great results. Showcasing your talents to new clients builds trust and confidence in your ability to find the home that’s right for them,” she said.
According to Jessica Riffle Edwards, luxury property specialist at Coldwell Banker, the most important part of marketing to first-time homebuyers is educating them on the current market. “This principle applies to experienced homebuyers, too, but it’s especially critical for those buying their first home,” said Edwards, a 12-year real estate veteran, who has built a top-grossing real estate team in Wilmington, N.C. “Considering how much the market has changed over the past few years, homebuyers are now seeking information and expertise throughout the entire homebuying process,” she continued. “Agents should go above and beyond to show homebuyers that they are a valuable source of knowledge in the local community. When working with both first-time and experienced homebuyers, it is vital to showcase your value and knowledge, so you will have a lasting positive impression and client relationship.”
Tip #3: Talk their talk
“As with many industries, avoid using real estate jargon that would make it difficult for the average first-time homebuyer to understand. The key is to help them understand the homebuying process, so agents should start with the topline facts, then delve into the details as the client asks more questions,” Edwards said.
Tip #4: Stay connected
Working with first-time buyers goes beyond the closing, according to Edwards. “Stay connected with clients who bought their first home with your help. The marketing afterward is just as important as the marketing before.” she said “Chances are their first home won’t be their last, which means they could be your clients for the rest of their lives. “Equally as important, first-time homebuyers are likely to have friends in the market for a first home whom they can refer to you, creating an opportunity to expand connections and organically grow a strong client base.”
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