5 Tips for Working With First-time Homebuyers

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The homebuying process might be old hat to you. For first-time homebuyers, though, it's like stepping into a new world full of promise—and potential worries.

As a real estate agent, you have an important role to play when working with first-time homebuyers—not just in helping them find a home but also in educating them and providing some emotional support along the way. Matt Till, a real estate professional in San Antonio, offers the following tips.

1. Make sure they get prequalified

Getting prequalified is crucial to helping new buyers understand how much house they can afford.

"Having buyers get prequalified at the start saves so much time and frustration," Till says.

If your clients haven't already prequalified, they can submit their financial information for review in 15 minutes or less on BBT.com.

Till also advises getting a lender with a local office, if possible, so buyers can visit face-to-face if issues come up. Your clients can easily search for a mortgage professional in their ZIP code on BBT.com.

2. Help them be realistic

"Homebuying is like anything else in life," Till says. "There's give and take."

Even with new homes, your clients probably won’t get everything they want, so have them prioritize their wants and must-haves.

They should be realistic with their offer, too. As a real estate pro, you know the market better than anyone else. Help them understand the inventory, the neighborhoods and the prices they should expect.

3. Educate them

The entire homebuying process is complex—and completely unlike the process of buying anything else. So, first-time buyers usually need some schooling on the fundamentals.

"I make a calendar of events that leads them through the important dates and explain what each of those steps means," Till says. "Be available to answer their questions, too. Answering your phone or email promptly is a simple way to put them at ease."

4. Empathize with them

If you've been in the real estate game for a while, you probably have a good understanding of what a first-time buyer is going through, including the excitement and stress. Use that empathy to develop a solid relationship and pay attention to what clients are looking for in their home.

"Don't ever be fake," Till adds. "Always give them your honest feedback about a house, even if it's not what they want to hear. That builds trust."

You can help buyers empathize with the other party, too.

"I try hard not to paint the homebuying experience as adversarial," Till says. "We're not out to make anyone miserable, and it's not us versus them."

5. Be patient

The steps aren't new to you, but they're new to first-time homebuyers. Expect last-minute nerves, and be the calming center.

"A Realtor® expects an inspection report to detail every single thing about a house, but a new homebuyer will leaf through it, see huge amounts of text and figure the house is about to fall apart," Till says.

So, be deliberate about putting things in context to make them feel at ease.

A good real estate agent is a personal guide to buying a house. By carefully accompanying your first-time buyers through the different steps of the process, you'll be their leader into the new (to them) world of homeownership.

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