Tips for Selling to First-Time Homebuyersby Tim Manni
Today’s housing market is a buyer’s market. Falling home prices, historically-low interest rates, foreclosed properties, and financial incentives have all lured potential homebuyers to the forefront in search of a once-in-a-lifetime deal.
Sellers, on the other hand, have gotten the short end of the stick. Falling home prices and dirt-cheap foreclosures have taken the profits right out from under them.
But Amy Hoak writes that sellers have one distinct advantage over foreclosed properties: their homes have been maintained, lived in, and present much more of a human appeal to potential buyers than a vacant, empty, and sometimes run-down — if not vandalized — property.
Real estate experts will tell you that your home’s curb appeal is your first chance to make a good impression. While many foreclosed properties have unkempt lawns and shrubbery, sellers should take the opportunity to spruce up their property, clean their home, and, if possible, throw on a fresh coat of paint. Small improvements like painting can go a long way.
Closing Costs/Mortgage Points
When marketing or advertising your property, offering to help pay some or all of the closing costs will surely attract a lot of interest. If your potential buyer suddenly gets cold feet due to rising mortgage rates, another strategy the experts suggest is offering to pay the mortgage points:
But consider a buyer’s timeline for staying in the home before deciding if this is the most effective way to help; paying points generally makes sense for those staying in a home for more than a few years.
Home Warranty/Mortgage Protection
You can help ease a first-time buyer’s apprehension about buying in an unstable economy by offering them “insurance policies” such as a home warranty or mortgage protection. If first timers are coming from a rental property, they are not used to paying for most repairs. Ease buyers into the ownership experience by agreeing to pay for certain repairs if they are needed within a certain period of time.
Just as many of the major car companies are doing, offer to buy insurance for your buyer so they can continue to pay their mortgage if they happen to lose their job:
Basically, the plan will make several months of mortgage payments in the event that the buyer becomes unemployed. “There are people with secure jobs who are still nervous. This can give them just a little more comfort,” [Leslee MacKenzie, of Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty in Burlington, Vt.] said.
While today’s real estate market is certainly a buyer’s market, we hope sellers will use these tips to get a step ahead of the competition. Also remember to never discount a low offer — every offer deserves a counter offer. Good luck.