First-time buyers may not be ready to purchase a home right away, but with a little patience you can turn them into lifelong clients. Keller Williams Head of Inclusion and Belonging Julia Lashay Israel offers insights on providing education and information that converts.

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This post was updated Nov. 13, 2023.

With rising interest rates and increasing consumer debt, many agents are finding it difficult to capture the attention and loyalty of first-time buyers. At the same time, many first-time homebuyers are facing longer paths to homeownership. In fact, NAR data shows that at just 26 percent, the share of first-time homebuyers has fallen to its lowest level on record since NAR began tracking the data.

First-time homebuyers are not just essential to the industry, they’re essential for an agent’s business. To thrive in this competitive market, real estate agents must learn the art of hooking first-time buyers and preventing cold feet, a growing problem as nearly 60,000 home purchase contracts were canceled in August, according to Redfin data

Here we’ll explore strategies to engage and nurture these prospective clients, ultimately turning them into lifelong customers.

1. Establish trust, build relationships

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Before first-time buyers become clients, they must trust you as their real estate adviser. Building rapport and relationships is key to gaining their confidence.

Attend local community events, engage in social media conversations, and participate in neighborhood groups to show your commitment to their community. Be a valuable resource, offering information on the housing market and neighborhood trends. Over time, this trust will turn casual inquiries into loyal clients.

2. Educate, don’t sell 

First-time buyers often lack the knowledge and experience needed to navigate the real estate market. Position yourself as a trusted educator, not just a salesperson. Provide valuable content, such as blog posts, webinars or downloadable guides about the homebuying process. By offering free resources and information, you’ll demonstrate your expertise and build credibility.

3. Follow up using a CRM

Once you’ve made initial contact with potential first-time buyers, don’t let them slip through the cracks. Create a personalized follow-up plan, taking into account their specific needs and preferences.

Use a CRM system to track interactions and schedule follow-up calls or emails. Regular communication will keep you top-of-mind when they’re ready to take the next step.

4. Be patient and understanding

Not every potential client will be ready to buy a home immediately. Some may need months or even years to prepare financially or emotionally. Be patient and understanding of their timelines and circumstances. Offer support and guidance throughout their journey, ensuring they remember you when they are ready to make a move.

5. Stay informed about programs, products and incentives

The real estate market constantly evolves, as do government incentives and lender programs designed to assist first-time buyers. Stay informed about the latest offerings, such as down payment assistance programs or tax credits, and share this valuable information with your potential clients. Demonstrating your commitment to helping them save money will keep you in their good graces.

6. Provide market updates

Send regular market updates and property listings to potential first-time buyers, even if they’re not actively searching. This keeps them informed about housing trends and ensures you’re the first person they think of when they’re ready to make a move.

7. Host homebuying workshops 

Consider hosting homebuying workshops or seminars for first-time buyers in your community. These events provide valuable information and establish you as an expert in the field. Attendees may not be ready to buy immediately, but they’ll remember your guidance when they are.

For over 10 years, I hosted monthly homebuyer workshops. Although I haven’t held one in the past four years, I still get people calling me saying that they are now ready to purchase.

Hooking first-time buyers, even when they’re not ready to buy yet, is all about building trust, providing value and staying in contact to offer support throughout their journey.

By taking a long-term, relationship-focused approach, you’ll not only gain loyal clients but also become the go-to real estate expert in your community. Remember, success in real estate is not just about closing deals; it’s about nurturing relationships that last a lifetime.

As the head of inclusion and belonging for Keller Williams Realty International, Julia Lashay Israel advises, trains and coaches leaders, team members and agents to recognize and address diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities and challenges across the organization.

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