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Working with first-time buyers

Dave Hershman
Apr 05, 2010

The market for first-time homebuyers is as hot as it has ever been. With the government offering tax incentives, home prices down and interest rates low, homes are more affordable than they have affordable in history. Most of the recovery of the real estate market in the past year has been focused upon the lower end of the market. Whether you are a real estate agent, insurance agent, tax professional, loan officer or other professional, it is hard not to be impacted by this market. On the contrary, many are stepping up to focus upon this segment of the market. This is not a short-term gold rush. Even when the market normalizes, first-time buyers typically comprise close to one-half of the purchase market. It is not enough to say that you are going to focus upon this segment of the market. Those who are going to service renters must understand that these people have special needs. The home buying experience will be their most significant financial transaction and it is important for the experience to be a positive one instead of a nightmare. What are these needs? They need someone to learn from. That means you should not focus upon this market unless you are an expert. You should anticipate the questions they have and be ready for answers. As a matter of fact, it would be a great idea to provide them with a sheet of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in your area of expertise. There is so much information being thrown at these people that they are not likely to remember what you tell them. Don’t limit this information to FAQs. Also include printed information about the process—including diagrams and graphs that demonstrate the flow. You must think of yourself as a teacher as well as a businessperson. When they see you as a teacher rather than someone trying to sell them something, they are more likely to listen to your advice. How many times have transactions gone awry because people went off in the wrong direction because there was not enough of a level of trust? People trust teachers. One characteristic of a teacher is someone who has a great deal of patience. Expect that questions will be asked repeatedly. Expect your clients to not always follow through the way you would like. All through these bumps and bruises, you will need to exercise an extraordinary amount of patience. You are not their parent. You cannot get angry with them. You are their teacher. Help them prepare. You have heard this a million times: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Nowhere is this saying more appropriate than with regard to the home purchase process. For example, having them spend time with a loan officer getting a pre-approval will not only give them more confidence to purchase, it will remove a significant amount of stress from the process. Questions will be answered, issues will be resolved and now, the search can occur with a focus on the goal of finding the right home instead of two processes that are occurring at once. During the process, do not assume that the clients understand what you are saying at all times. Do not use technical language and jargon that may be common to your profession, but foreign to them. For example, when you speak about rates fluctuating, do not assume that the clients know exactly how that affects their payments. They are even more likely not to know how rates shifting may affect their payments after the tax factor is figured into the equation. They might not even understand what the mortgage payment is comprised of and other areas they will be responsible for, such as home maintenance. If you are an expert in your industry, you must also align yourself with other experts. The first-time buyers will be looking for recommendations. Going back to the tax issue, they may want to speak with a tax professional who may also be able to help them file forms to take advantage of the tax credit if the state and/or federal government is offering one for which they qualify. Referrals of other professionals removes more stress from the transaction because once again, they can focus on the purchase instead of shopping for all of the services associated with the transaction. In addition, referring them to other experts also makes it more likely they will experience a smoother transaction. On their own, they are more likely to obtain the wrong information or hook up with service providers who don’t provide the best customer service. Referring experts such as yourself with good service records should be the least you can contribute to the transaction. Of course, these referral relationships should go both ways and these high level relationships should increase your business in the long run. A strong referral starts you out in a position of trust, which again, is imperative if you are going to lead first-time buyers through a successful and stress-free transaction...? Dave Hershman is a leading author for the mortgage industry with eight books and several hundred articles to his credit. He is also head of OriginationPro Mortgage School and a top industry speaker. Dave’s Certified Mortgage Advisor Program can be found at If you would like to stay ahead of what is happening in the markets, visit for a free trial or e-mail [email protected]
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