First-time homebuyers purchased 40 percent of all single-family homes in the third quarter of 2017. Despite lower inventory and higher housing prices, the percentage of first-time buyers continues to grow.
“Younger buyers are getting help from parents. Parents are contributing toward the down payment, providing a cash loan or cosigning the mortgage,” said Dana Bull, a Realtor® at Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty and real estate coach. “First-time buyers are able to be agile in a competitive market place. Since their purchase is not contingent on a home sale, they have the cash on hand and can accommodate the seller’s timeline.”
Bull added that lenders and assistance programs are also offering incentives for first-time buyers, making it easier for them to afford a home. In Pennsylvania, legislation is pending to create a First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account.
Bull recommended a few tips for first-time buyers. She suggested they give themselves a long lead to find a home. “Many first-time buyers are working against the clock because they are tied to a lease,” she said. “Try to figure out a way to not have a strict deadline, whether that’s negotiating month-to-month with your landlord, or moving home with family or friends.” She also stressed the importance of education on the homebuying process. “You don’t need to understand all of the ins-and outs, but having a general awareness of the high level milestones will make you feel more in control as a buyer,” she said.
It is also important to make homebuying a priority, Bull said. “Buying a house takes time and resources. It can be hard to juggle it along with work and other commitments. However, I guarantee that if you don’t make the time, another buyer will and they will get the house that you want.”
As for Realtors®, she said the best way to work with first-time homebuyers is to set a way to communicate that works for both of you, whether that be email, phone or text. “First-time buyers can require additional hand-holding and it’s important to have extra check-ins to keep buyers up to speed and on track,” she added. “Buyers can easily get distracted by shiny objects, like new appliances, countertops and impeccable staging. However, these items are all replaceable. I encourage buyers to look holistically at the items that cannot be easily changed, such as the lot size and orientation, overall layout and style.”
“I always encourage buyers to cast a wide net in the beginning,” Bull added. “Once they have considered a variety of housing types and neighborhoods, they can more confidentially narrow in on what they really want and need.”