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    Sharing your experience and expertise has its benefits — have you ever considered creating your own first-time homebuyer’s guide? In addition to providing useful information, you also have an opportunity to make your pitch.

    For real estate agents comfortable with creating content, there are two approaches to choose from. The first is to focus primarily on process and education. The second is to focus on the questions first-time homebuyers should be asking. What are their expectations? And how do they reconcile those expectations with the reality of what they may find in their search?

    In this blog, we’ll cover the first approach — stay tuned for Part II with the second approach.

    Process and Education: What to Cover in Your Guide for First-Time Homebuyers

    1. Introduce yourself. Explain your reason for creating this guide. Share an experience you’ve had with a first-time homebuyer. What were their concerns and how were you able to address them? Be brief and succinct. Provide all your contact information including social media along with a photo.

    2. Rent vs. buy. This age old argument should be addressed first. Renting has many limitations including: no tax benefits, no control over the cost and rules contained in the lease, and limited control of what you can do with the property. Counter with information on the mortgage interest deduction, the importance and benefits of building equity, taking control of your cashflow, and the flexibility and pride that comes with homeownership. Include an estimated savings example.

    3. The importance of good credit. Better scores mean better rates and terms. Explain how a credit score is determined and what it means to a potential lender. Break down the contributing factors — payment history, amount owed, length of credit, types of credit, and new credit. Introduce the credit agencies. Explain how to obtain their current score and how they can improve and maintain it going forward.

    4. Pre-qualification vs. pre-approval. One of the biggest fears first-time homebuyers have is navigating the mortgage loan process. Most likely you have a preferred lender. If so, this is a great co-branding opportunity. Explain the benefits of shopping with a pre-approval from a lender, the impact it has on a seller’s view of their offer, and how it can result in a faster closing.

    5. Demystify the process. Walk through the mortgage loan process including: price range, rate lock, selecting a loan program (have your lender provide a brief overview of the best first-time homebuyer plans and down payment assistance programs.) Cover appraisal, home inspection, and what can be expected at closing. Include a checklist of the required documentation along with a list of what not do while their loan is being processed.

    6. House hunting. Provide an overview of factors a first-time homebuyer should take into consideration including current and future needs, market conditions in the neighborhood i.e property taxes, utilities, etc. What are their expectations regarding local amenities and services, transportation, and proximity to their work?

    7. Determining costs. Break down how affordability is determined and use an example to illustrate. Introduce them to PITI — principal, interest, taxes, and insurance — and how to determine what their monthly payment might be.

    8. Closing the deal. This is your chance to make a pitch and share experience. How do you handle negotiations, interpreting a seller’s motivation, and determine a price range that that everyone can live with? Finally, what can they expect at closing?

    Create your guide with assistance from a graphic designer to ensure your brand is showcased properly. Use testimonials throughout. Make sure the header or footer on each page contains your name, phone, and email address. Make your guide available as a PDF for easy printing. Use it as download on your website in exchange for customer contact information. Have printed copies available to share with clients you meet with in person.

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