7 tips for squashing first-time homebuyer anxiety

Your clients will be more relaxed and comfortable with your advice, and they’ll come to a decision more easily

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First-time homebuyers are an interesting mix of clients. They’re often excited, looking forward to touring different homes and moving into their first house, but they might also be intimidated or nervous about the size of their decision. They’re inexperienced and might not know what to expect.

With the affordability issues that first-time homebuyers face, they might need a little more hand-holding than usual. According to HousingWire, first-time homebuyers can only afford 20 percent of housing stock in some markets.

Real estate agents will need to prepare to make them feel more comfortable throughout what is likely the biggest financial decision of their lives.

How to make a first-time homebuyer comfortable

So what strategies can you use to quell those nerves and make your first-time buyer clients more at ease with the process?

1. Introduce them to savings and finance plans

There are a number of special deals, savings and options available to first-time homebuyers, such as an exclusion to withdraw from a Roth IRA or special loans with rates for first-time buyers.

Notifying your clients that these deals exist helps in a few different ways.

First, it gives them more confidence in their decision, knowing they can get a better price for their purchase. Second, it gives them confidence in your expertise, since you were able to find these deals.

2. Answer all their questions thoroughly

This should go without saying, but make sure you answer all your clients’ questions as thoroughly as possible. First-time homebuyers tend to have a lot of questions, so it’s imperative that they feel comfortable asking you and feel confident in your answers.

If you don’t know the answer to a question, look it up, and if you need to do more research, let them know you’ll get back to them when you have more information.

3. Provide an overview of the process

Early on in your client relationship, make sure to provide a general overview of the homebuying process. Your clients might not know what to expect and might not know all the steps of the process; this is your chance to provide a high-level overview, as well as a timeline, so they feel more comfortable at each step along the way.

4. Take things one step at a time

However, it’s important not to overwhelm your clients with the overarching process. Ultimately, you’ll need to take things one step at a time with them.

Try not to foreshadow the next step of the process too heavily when you’re in the middle of touring houses; instead, focus on the present, and keep reiterating whatever goals are associated with that present step.

5. Help them discover their own wants and needs

First-time homebuyers aren’t always sure about what they want or need. They might think they need a home with a finished basement or one with a two-car garage, but they might not have considered other options or know that those options exist.

Encourage them to keep an open mind and explore many different possibilities before settling on a firm list of wants and needs. Then, help them cultivate and evolve that list gradually.

6. Encourage them to view many properties

Although it might be more work for you, you’ll ultimately get to a better final decision if you view many different properties, whether you look at them online or tour them in person.

Viewing more properties will give first-time homebuyers more options to consider and a more diverse perspective they can use to accurately generate a list of their wants and needs.

After viewing a few dozen, they should have a good idea of what they’re looking for and feel more confident in their decision.

7. Talk through multiple time horizons

First-time homebuyers might also struggle to consider their decision across multiple time horizons. They might focus only on what they need for the next few years or think too hard about what might happen over the next few decades.

As a real estate agent, you’ll have a better perspective on how a home’s value might change over several years and how people’s priorities shift over those timeframes.

Share that perspective with your clients.

The benefits

Why are these steps so important to take? For starters, the process will be easier for both of you. Your clients will be more relaxed and more comfortable with your advice, and therefore, they’ll come to a decision more easily.

They’ll also be more satisfied with their decision once they make it because they finalized the decision confidently.

The best benefit is that if you make them comfortable throughout the process, they’ll be far more likely to recommend you to friends and family members, who might also be first-time homebuyers. And if you’re like most real estate agents, referrals are how you grow your business.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant specializing in entrepreneurship, technology and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.