how to . . .
make dreams come true
Pushing Through the Hurdles
Why devote the extra time to working with first-time buyers?
For some, the niche generates good feelings akin to first love.
Andi Grant’s passion for her sales niche is pretty well summed up in her website’s URL, firsttimehome
buyerrealestate.com, which is bursting
with tips to help buyers in South Los
Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., turn their
dreams of home ownership into a reality.
Grant, a sales agent with Prudential
24 Hour Real Estate Co., in Downey, Calif.,
got into the real estate business in 2006
when, as luck would have it, real estate
prices began to plummet. But she leaned
in during the downturn and, for the past
three years, Grant has focused her marketing efforts on the particularly challenging first-time buyer segment, which now
comprises 70 percent of her business.
So what’s the appeal of a niche that
typically requires extra hand-holding,
particularly when it comes to obtaining a
loan? “I love helping them to achieve the
American dream,” she says.
At first, Grant didn’t pursue first-time
home buyers. They came to her—at open
houses. “I had to equip myself with information specifically geared to answering
their many questions on the spot,” she
says. Creating a branding campaign
aimed at them was the next step.
Her success derives from anticipating
how first-timers may have been led astray
at the start of their search. Even though
her buyers, typically in their early 30s,
have unprecedented access to informa-
tion, she has to correct much of what they
have learned online, such as “Top Ten
Things First-Time Home Buyers Should
Never/Always Do” lists from dubious
news sources and advice from family and
friends whose purchasing experiences
don’t reflect current conditions.
“Buyers are telling me I need to make
an offer $20K lower than the price so we
can work our way up,” even in multiple-
offer scenarios, says Grant. “I tell them,
‘The last thing we want is for them to use
your offer as scratch paper to calculate
the pros and cons of other offers.’ ”
First-time buyers defy stereotyping.
Many are far more circumspect about
the decision to own than buyers of a
decade ago, particularly if they’ve seen
loved ones face a foreclosure or short
sale, she says. “It’s all about being com-
fortable,” Grant says. “They’re not going
to buy just for the sake of buying.”
Swati Saxena, BPOR, SFR, sales asso-
ciate with Baird & Warner in Oak Park,
Ill., says her prior career as an engineer
prepared her surprisingly well for working
with first-timers. She has created a 32-
page handbook, including a flowchart
that explains the progression, time
frames, and potential logjams.
Making sure first-timers are prepared
for the responsibility is Saxena’s priority.
When they aren’t, ”I keep in touch to see
if their decision factors have changed or
if they need more help.” Nothing beats
the feeling, however, when the pieces
come together. “Everyone remembers
their first love, and everyone remembers
their first home purchase,” she says.
“How can I resist being part of this?”
As rewarding as those closings can
be, experienced agents caution against
making first-timers your exclusive focus.
In five to seven years, they’ll be back in
the market, says David Kent, ABR, CRS,
broker-owner of The Real Buyers Agent
HBC in Charleston, S.C., and you want
that business coming back to you.
By Lynn Olson