Real Estate Agents: How to Market to First-time Home Buyers

By Darrin Rayner

As more and more home buyers of the millennial generation reach buying age (they’re soon expected to pass Boomers in total population), your marketing efforts toward first-time home buyers become more and more important.

According to the Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report 2016 produced by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), first-time home buyers are most likely:

  • Gen Y/Millennials, ages 18 to 35, with a median age of 30 (making up 35 percent of all home buyers)
  • Paying off a student loan debt, with a median balance of $25,000
  • Concerned about commuting costs and looking for an energy-efficient home that is conveniently located to their job
  • Viewing a home purchase as a positive financial investment
  • Looking at homes online first before connecting with a realtor who can help them find the right home, understand the process, and negotiate the purchase

So how can you get your marketing and services in front of them? The simple answer: just be where they are.


Overwhelmingly, prospective home buyers search for homes online before contacting a realtor. Make sure your listings are available on the top real estate sites and feature full information, as well as photos and virtual tours.  According to the NAR report, more than 80 percent of all buyers found photos and detailed information online about properties for sale very useful. This is key when marketing to younger buyers, as open houses may not be as attractive as the online alternative.

But your online presence shouldn’t end there. Featuring your postings on your own company’s site and blog is a great online marketing opportunity. Make sure your content is relevant, with appropriate keywords — like “energy efficiency” — that will be picked up by search engines.

At Their Current Homes

Prospective first-time home buyers can often be found in a condo or apartment complex. Leaving door hangers or posting flyers is a traditional and effective form of marketing, and it gives you the opportunity to make personal connections.

At Their Banks

If a first-time home buyer has been saving for their down payment, they could have long-term relationships with their banks — and so should you. Building relationships with local bank professionals can help you gain referrals. Further, how’s your network among local loan officers? First-time home buyers will be understandably nervous about the home-buying process and getting pre-qualified for mortgages.

Be Aware of Their Major Milestones

A 2015 survey by NeighborWorks America, a D.C.-based affordable housing organization, found that 43 percent of the first-time home buyers responding said they intended to buy a home when they “got married or moved in with a life partner.” Therefore, it makes sense to promote your services to that market, whether that means renting space at a bridal show or taking out an ad in a local wedding publication.

Helping Their Friends and Family

At the close of a successful home sale, always ask for the referral. Referrals continue to be the way that most buyers find their real estate agent, and the NAR report states that’s how 46 percent of millennials found their agent. Also, periodically contact your past sale list and remind them of the services you offer first-time buyers.

Part of getting the referral is to be trustworthy. Eighty-two percent of millennial buyers would definitely or probably recommend their agent to others or use them again, but they also felt having an agent who was honest and trustworthy was most important. Part of being trustworthy is to be available and reliable. Since your younger buyers may expect to do the majority of their communications digitally, be ready to handle electronic documents and to answer email, texts, and social-media inquiries, as well as picking up the phone.

Think Outside the (Cultural) Box

Another subgroup of first-time home buyers includes those with English as their second language. It’s useful to spend time learning about the cultural norms of the different subgroups in your local home-buying population, as it could affect your marketing plan. For example, you may consider highlighting the specific features and amenities in the community that might interest them.

In short, first-time home buyers are looking online for help finding and buying a home, and they are used to being bombarded with marketing messages. If effective direct marketing is not your strong suit, consider using a robust solution like the Xpressdocs marketing platform to streamline your on-demand and direct marketing efforts.

1-18-17-darrin_rayner-alt1-777x1024DARRIN RAYNER is responsible for leading sales and business development activities at Xpressdocs. He also executes Xpressdocs’ long-term product and platform vision, creating industry-leading solutions to meet the needs of clients. Prior to joining Xpressdocs, Darrin served as Vice President for Verizon’s business unit.

Respond to Real Estate Agents: How to Market to First-time Home Buyers

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