2011: The First-Time Buyer Re-Emerges (Again)

01 Feb
February 1, 2011

Spring time in Real Estate usually heralds the unofficial opening of the “Real Estate Season.” But six years into a protracted downturn, there is finally activity bubbling, and it began bubbling in January. Buyer activity – emerging triumphantly – like blades of grass through thick layers of industry permafrost.

Much of this activity is generated by first-time buyers –  uncertain, but hopeful.

Rent prices, climbing. Home prices, stable. Interest rates, low.

A perfect mix of market conditions and circumstance. But these buyers are different. Cautiously optimistic, data-driven, and hungry for collaboration.

And these first-timers are OUT IN FORCE. 50% of buyers in 2010 were first-time homebuyers, up from 47% in 2009. An all-time high. And the projections for 2011 are even greater, with upticks between 3% and 5% expected.

On-Line, All the Time

This “new-breed” of first-time buyer is spending time on-line. A lot of time on-line. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2010 study of home buyers and sellers, on-line is definitely where it’s at:

…Buyers use a wide variety of resources in searching for a home: 89 percent surf the Internet, 88 percent use real estate agents… Although buyers also use other resources, they generally start the search process online and then contact an agent…

These buyers are researching homes. They are researching you. They are researching your Company. They are researching the area(s) they want to live in. They are researching market stats, market data and market conditions. And they want an agent who is an expert, not a hobbyist. First impressions mean a lot – and buyers – first-time or repeat – are many times creating their first impression on-line.

That said, it is critically important to remember that engagement does not start and stop with having an effective suite of on-line assets. After making the initial connection, substance is key. In fact, findings from the same 2010 NAR study point out that these same home buyers thought the most important services agents offer are helping find the right house, and negotiating sales terms and price. And this requires a deep knowledge of local market conditions, pricing trends and market health. In other words, a STRONG professional skill set.

So how do I engage this “new-breed” of first-time buyers?

Step one, know your market. Know the trends. Know your local communities – Intimately. Be the EXPERT. The resource the consumer craves.

Step two, get the on-line you in tip-top shape. On the web and the social sphere:

  • Get your website up to snuff (a great example can be seen at www.meehanvirginia.com)
  • Update your profile on your company website
  • Pay attention to your social assets (Facebook, Twitter etc) – ensure the content is fresh, updated and relevant (www.Facebook.com/AveryHess)
  • Refresh your LinkedIn profile. Turn it into your Real Estate resume. Add client testimonials. Tell your prospective clients Why they Should Work with YOU.

The signs of a Real Estate recovery are on the horizon. And first-time buyers are leading the charge. So let’s do our part. Let’s engage. Let’s collaborate. Let’s communicate.

And most of all, let’s help. Here’s to a terrific 2011.

-Amit

Find your home, Plan your life: www.averyhess.com

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