Setting Expectations with First-Time Homebuyers
Most home buyers—particularly first-time homebuyers, come in pretty optimistic. They’re excited about finding their dream home and ready to hit the ground running.
Though that optimism is certainly enviable, it’s important for real estate agents to temper that excitement with a dose of reality.
What can the buyer expect in terms of competition?
What type of home can they afford with their budget?
How long might they find a home that fits their needs?
You should answer these questions for your client long before the home hunt begins. Giving your client realistic expectations sets the stage for a more successful transaction on the whole—one that gets them the home they want while also ensuring you have a satisfied, loyal customer who’s likely to refer you to friends and family.
What Should a Real Estate Agent’s Expectations Be Working with a First-Time Home Buyer?
As a real estate agent, you should expect to provide high support and guidance to first-time home buyers.
This may involve helping them understand the local real estate market and the available neighborhoods and properties, as well as providing information on financing and other aspects of the home-buying process.
You may also need to help first-time home buyers understand the different costs and expenses associated with owning a home, such as property taxes, utilities, and maintenance costs.
Additionally, you may need to provide information on the different types of homes available, such as single-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums, and help the buyer determine which type of home best fits their needs and budget.
Overall, working with a first-time home buyer can be a rewarding experience, as you can help them navigate the complexities of the home-buying process and find the right property for their needs. It’s important to be patient, understanding, and knowledgeable and to provide clear, concise answers to all of the buyer’s questions.
When to Set Expectations with Your First-Time Homebuyer Clients
Before you sign a contract or even begin the house hunt, you need to discuss expectations with your clients. You can include expectations in your contract or, at the very least, list them in an email.
You’ll need to cover the following:
- What they can expect from you as their REALTOR®. This includes communication style, availability, knowledge, expertise, and exactly what services you will provide them. You should also include the items they’ll be responsible for.
- What they can expect from the market. You should discuss how quickly homes are selling, whether they’re going for over or under list price, and if sellers are willing to negotiate. If prices are rising and inventory is low, they need to know—before it hits their pocketbook.
- What they can expect from the home buying process. The first-time homebuyer will especially need hand-holding in this area. The home-buying process is a pretty complicated one, and for those who haven’t trekked through it before, it can be pretty overwhelming. Make sure they know what they’re getting into- now and every step along the way.
You may need to check back in at different points in the home-buying process to reset expectations. If the buyer is having trouble finding the right property or their bids keep getting rejected, then it might be time to step back and reapproach with a new strategy.
How to Set Expectations with Home Buyers
Setting expectations with buyers can be hard—especially if they’re a first-time homebuyers with no experience. The key to success is to ask the right questions from the outset and get to the heart of what the buyer wants and how you, the market, and the future seller fit into that equation.
Here’s what you should ask your clients when setting initial expectations:
- How do you like to communicate? Do they prefer text or email? Are they more talk-by-phone type of people? Nail down their preferred method, and talk about how that meshes with what you can provide.
- What is their schedule like? When are they available for showings? When aren’t they? In today’s tight inventory market, they may need to act fast when a home is listed. If they’re not readily available for showings, it could impact how quickly they can buy—as well as what homes will be available to them.
- What’s their timeline? How quickly do they need to move? If they’re on a tight deadline, they might be unable to wait around for the perfect dream house—especially if there’s just not a lot of inventory out there.
- How can they improve their chances? Talk to your buyers about getting pre-qualified for their loans, and stress the edge it can give them over the competition. Also, discuss credit scores and how that may affect their mortgage rate and other factors in the home buying process.
- What are their responsibilities? What is your client responsible for in the process? How quickly do they need to respond when you send them potential listings or showings? When should they be available to talk or visit in person?
- Who else will they be working with? Make sure your first-time homebuyer knows that you’re not the only person they’ll be working with. They’ll also need to work with their loan officer, the title company, the seller’s agent, and a few other vendors along the way. They should know to respond quickly if one of these parties requests information or needs a signature; the faster they act, the quicker closing day will come.
What Questions Should You Expect from First-Time Home Buyers?
- What is the current state of the local real estate market? Are prices rising or falling, and how does this affect the type of home I can afford?
- What neighborhoods or areas in the city might be a good fit for me based on my budget, lifestyle, and needs?
- What are the average price ranges for homes in the areas that I’m interested in, and what amenities and features can I expect at different price points?
- Can you provide information on the average time homes stay on the market in the areas I’m interested in and what factors are likely to affect the sale of a home in those areas?
- Can you provide information on the average property taxes, utility costs, and other expenses associated with owning a home in the areas I’m interested in?
- Can you provide information on the schools, public transportation, and other community amenities in the areas I’m interested in?
- Can you provide information on the different types of mortgages and financing options available to first-time home buyers and help me determine the best option for my situation?
- Can you provide references from past clients who have worked with you as a first-time home buyers, and can I contact them to learn about their experience?
- Can you provide a list of professionals, such as home inspectors and lawyers, who can help me throughout the home-buying process?
Bottom Line on Setting First-Time Home Buyer Expectations
Be sure to ask if they have any questions or concerns as well.
Setting clear expectations upfront can ensure everyone ends up happy—you, the seller, the buyer, and even the mortgage lender.
It can help ease the pains of the often overwhelming home-buying process and make the experience more enjoyable from start to finish.