First-time buyers made up 33 percent of all home buyers in 2019, according to the National Association of Realtors, continuing a six-year trend of percentages right around that number.
With 1 of every 3 home buyers being a first-timer and more millennials reaching traditional home-buying age each year, home sellers would be foolish to ignore the first-time buyer market. That’s especially true in areas where there’s a lot of competition among sellers of affordable housing.
Of course, in many ways, first-time buyers are like any other home buyers. They want similar things in a home. But coming from a background of renting, they can have a different perspective than repeat buyers. Keeping that in mind, here are four ways to lure first-time buyers.
Ditch the carpet
The quickest, cheapest way to cover a floor is with carpet. Every landlord knows this, which is why most renters are likely coming from a home with lots of carpet in it. They’ve probably seen tons of carpet in their day.
National Association of Realtors home buyer surveys show that, overall, home buyers prefer hard-surface flooring (hardwood, luxury vinyl tile, ceramic tile, etc.) to carpet. With first-time buyers, that preference might be even more pronounced, as they know all too well how dingy carpeting can make a place look over time. A home for sale without any carpeting could feel liberating to them.
Put in new appliances
Most renters have also probably had appliances that came with the unit they’re renting. Again, landlords being the thrifty type, appliances tend to spend years and years in rental units. They’re replaced when they stop working, which can be decades.
So chances are, you’ll get first-time buyers through your home who don’t have nice appliances. Providing stainless steel finishes and modern-day conveniences such as water dispensers and ice makers could be plenty persuasive for buyers who’ve been living with 15-year-old appliances in their rental unit.
If you already have newer appliances, you can probably just leave them with the home. But if you want to move them with to your new home, you can replace them with a modern, four-piece suite of new appliances for less than $3,000 if you look for sales and bundle deals.
Draw attention to your space
One of the most common reasons for anybody to move is the desire for more living space. First-time home buyers coming from a rental unit or their parents’ spare bedroom, tend to appreciate space even more.
As a home seller, you can tap into the appeal of space by drawing attention to it. Decluttering your home and brightening the lighting can make it seem larger. A minimalist approach to furniture can make spaces flow better.
Also, if you have storage areas – such as a mudroom, drop zone or walk-in pantry – highlight those amenities with lighting, art, or fresh flowers, so that first-time buyers are sure to notice storage spaces they might not have in their rental.
Modernize everything you can
Again, landlords tend to only spend money on things that need to be replaced. If the property they bought 20 years ago had brass doorknobs and stained-glass chandeliers, they’re not likely to switch them out just because they’re now out of style.
So while they might not appreciate them as much as new appliances, first-time buyers will find appeal in things like brushed-nickel door handles, contemporary light fixtures, newer faucets, bathroom mirrors and more. Remember, landlords don’t replace anything that’s not broken, so modernizing even the little things in your home might help lure first-time buyers.
The basic premise is to be aware of where first-time buyers are coming from, then highlight the aspects of your home that are likely to be perks compared to their experience as renters. Creating demand for a home for sale is often a matter of appealing the most to a large segment of home buyers, and first-timers certainly qualify.