How To Sell To First-Time Homebuyers: Winning Big With Inaugural Purchases

first-time homebuyer

“You’re not going to get the perfect house now. But you’ve got to get in the game.” – Melissa Ryan, Los Angeles Luxury Property Specialist, Coldwell Banker Realty

As modern realtors are all too familiar with, gone are the days of starry-eyed first-time buyers, reasonably priced properties, and casual weekends spent meandering from one charming open house to the next. 

In the era of skyrocketing mortgage rates, rising inflation, economic upheaval, market uncertainty, and tight inventory – the search for a brand new home in the 21st Century is less rainbows and butterflies and more Mad Max: Fury Road.

Therefore, this isn’t the how-to guide for the everyday consumer.

For the eager 2:00 am Zillow extraordinaire.

For the hopeless romantic, endless dreamer, eyes-to-the-sky newbie that wants to settle down in four walls of their very own.

This is the book for you – the realty professional on the other end.


Juggling questions for those brand new to the process, for those unaware of their financing options, for those unsure what matters most – size or location…

This is to help you navigate the world of firsts…for them.

How to know what to say, how to answer, what next steps to take behind the scenes, and how to stay sane when the ever changing market wouldn’t dream of doing the same for you.

And don’t worry – it’s a lot, but we’ve got you every step of the way.

In this complete guide, we'll cover:

Who Is The Average First-Time Homebuyer?

According to the National Association of Realtors, first-time homebuyers made up 32% of all homebuyers in 2023. This is a leap from 2022’s 26%.

And while still below some of the averages we’ve seen in years past, this dramatic uptick means you should be doing everything in your power to prepare rookie homebuyers for their purchasing journeys ahead.


Want to personalize your approach? We highly recommend it. So here’s additional information to help you understand just who the average first-time buyer is in modern times:

  • The average first-time homebuyer was 35 years old in 2023. This is down from 36 years old in 2022.
  • First-time homebuyers had an average income of $95,900 in 2022, up from the $71,000 average in 2021.
  • First-time homebuyers put an average of 8% down in 2023, far below the 19% of repeat buyers.

In general, across the buying landscape of 2023, there are fewer married couples purchasing, with only 59% of total buyers landing in this category (the lowest % since 2010). 

Demographics on the rise? Single females at 19%.

With the above information, you can begin intentional, targeted searches toward prospective buyers that fall within any of the above categories.

Not sure where to start? Keep on reading for vital information on how to find and market your services to those preparing for their inaugural home search.

How To Market To First-Time Homebuyers

We’re not here to sugarcoat it. It’s a highly competitive market right now.

With higher list prices and fewer homes being sold (a nearly 10% drop from 2022), you’ve got to play hardball if you want to find the fresh leads you need to stay afloat.

Safe to say, it’s not enough to simply wait for your phone to ring or wait for your digital inbox to chime. You need to shift your mindset to proactive, outbound marketing in order to win opportunities before they’re even public knowledge.

Targeting First-Time Homebuyers Proactively

Beyond the information shared above, there are other segments within your community that may be looking to set their sights on homeownership for the very first time.

  • Tenants of non-owner occupied properties
  • Longtime renters – especially within a singular location
  • Renters who have recently welcomed new additions
  • Newly engaged couples and newlywed couples
  • Graduate degree recipients 30 years and older

There’s significant power in reaching out to individuals who haven’t started their search yet. Maybe home ownership is something that’s always been on the horizon for them but never seemed quite achievable or within reach. 


Blame it on the ever-rising mortgage rates or a simple uncertainty if they can afford this next step, but it often pays off to connect with individuals you know are great candidates for first-time homeownership…even if they don’t know it just yet.

And we’re here to help you find them.

Take An Omnichannel Approach For High Visibility

The average person sees 10K ads in one day.

So your strategy to send just ONE postcard, make ONE phone call, craft ONE email…it won’t get you the deals you think it will.

To succeed in today’s market, you have to think bigger and do more.

An omnichannel – or multi-channel – approach creates key visibility between yourself and the community you’re looking to serve. Essentially, the more people see you, the more they trust you. It’s an automatic response.

Consider this. Think of United States Presidents and high-ranking political figures in Washington, D.C. How many within the last fifty years had the same last name? From the Kennedys to the Clintons, we trust what we know, what is familiar. We trust what we see, and we ultimately trust what we’ve heard the most about.

How that relates to you? Be visible. Be present.

Show up in email inboxes, mailboxes, and voicemails. You want your prospective clients to feel as if they know you and are comfortable with you. You want to be seen as an expert within your neighborhood.

Show up in community advertisements. Be an outspoken guide in neighborly Facebook groups. Have diverse and varied messaging per channel and communication that is relevant, kind, and personalized.

Sound like a tall order? It is. You don’t get to this finish line with one approach alone. Combine your hyperlocal outreach efforts and you suddenly have a superpower.

Still not sold on the benefits of outbound marketing? Here are a few useful stats to sway your positioning:

  • Phone: 69% of prospects accept cold calls and emails. And 49% prefer cold calling as a first point of contact.
  • Email: 71% of buyers are open to emails when researching new solutions. Plus – email comes with an average open rate of 46-50%.
  • Direct Mail: 80-90% of direct mail is routinely opened, with 42% of recipients actively engaging with direct mail.
  • Digital: Targeted online advertising increases click-through rates up to 670%, with 40% of consumers preferring personalized, targeted ads.

Successful on their own…imagine if more realtors found first-time homebuyers with a blend of these dynamic approaches, combining multiple avenues in order to reach more people, and provide more support.

That sounds like great lead generation to us.

Make Yourself Stand Out

As you send your personalized outreaches, you need to make sure you’re also spending time to build a credible reputation for yourself.


If you’re handing out business cards and the listed URL leads to a defunct website, that’s not really putting your best foot forward. You often only get one shot to impress potential clients, so one wrong move and you could instantly lose a sale. 

Real estate is a relationship business. And the first step to building a relationship is presenting yourself authentically. (Plus, it doesn't hurt to shine a spotlight on the realty expert that you are).

Now is not the time to shy away from presenting yourself as successful or downplaying your wins. If you won’t brag about yourself – who will?

  • Go Live In Your Community. Host free workshops, stream your own webinars, and give out complimentary advice for those ready to buy for the first time. Submit user-generated think pieces on market trends and hop in to answer real estate questions on Nextdoor, Reddit, and Quora. Don’t forget to contact local publications and news outlets to offer yourself up as an eager interviewee for current or future real estate stories.
  • Use Targeted Social Media Marketing. Use social media as the extension of yourself and the free digital marketing it is. Make sure you have polished platforms and keep them up-to-date, posting regularly about your wins and client testimonials. Create custom audiences so your posts reach specific demographics (like the hyperlocal segments we discussed above).
  • Go Door To Door. Build up referrals from existing homeowners who may know of potential first-time buyers just starting out. Make sure to leave swag and goodies carrying your headshot and contact info that can be passed along.
  • Adopt A Side Hustle. Grow your experience, create more visibility within your community, and support neighborhood small businesses all in one. Join a local business for a shift or two per week for extra cash and valuable face time with those looking to buy their first property soon. Bartending, waiting tables, even volunteering are great options.
  • Be On The Shortlist At Local Venues. Soon-to-be-wed individuals are great prospects for first-time home purchases. Get on the mailing lists for local wedding destinations so you’re kept in the loop of upcoming events and celebrations so you know who to reach out to. Even better? Make sure local venues have your card on file to offer their clients.

Looking for more ways to cement your credibility and win homebuyer leads? Read our how-to guide for marketing in real estate business.

Use Public Record Data and Lead Gen Software

Finding targeted segments of interested homebuyers is endlessly simple with lead generation software like PropertyRadar.

You can search for clients proactively, easily creating your own personalized lead lists for groups that share core similarities (like the groups prime for first-time purchasing that we discussed above).

PropertyRadar taps into public records data, providing you with rich, hyperlocal data on over 150 million properties and over 250 million people. That’s a lot of potential first-time homebuyer leads.

A few more reasons why it’s the perfect tool to find your next buyer?

  • Automation and Monitoring. Yep, you heard us. Those lead lists you create update automatically, so if new information and individuals come up that match your specific criteria, they’re automatically added, and your list is refreshed (without you having to do a thing).
  • Insights. Each list gives you valuable demographic insights so you can instantly understand the segments you’re attempting to target and further personalize your messaging and marketing to match.
  • Heat Maps. The market is unpredictable. But we can help. Get a solid understanding of your community in minutes with patented technology and high-level examinations into your neighborhood. Raise your expertise level with expansive information right at your fingertips. Know where prospective first-time buyers are and where to target your outreaches more effectively.
  • Project Management. Connecting your lead generation to your project management software? It can be done. Not only does PropertyRadar boast over 4,000 integrations into outside tools, apps, services, and CRMs – but it also boasts its own Workflow View for each personalized lead list, allowing you to separate your leads into statuses, keeping track of who you’ve contacted, their reply, and who still needs outreach. Next level? We think so too.
  • Quick Lists. Still understanding the different segments in your community that may be ripe to target for first-time homeownership? We have templated search lists you can use in any location across the U.S. to help get your search moving. 
    • For existing PropertyRadar customers, use “Quick Lists > Realtor > First Time Buyers” within your account to get started.

Looking for more reasons to give PropertyRadar a shot to find your next first-time homebuyers? Read our ten reasons why PropertyRadar needs to be your next real estate tool.

Now that we’ve covered who first-time homebuyers are and how to find them…let’s take a look at the buying process from start to finish.

Our Step-By-Step Guide For Supporting First-Time Homebuyers

We get it. Every journey into first-time homeownership is going to look a little different. People (and the housing market) are unpredictable.

But we’re committed to giving you the outline you need to get started.


First-Time Homebuyers Need Financing First

Before you can shop for properties with first-time homebuyers, they need to know how much they can afford.

And while some first-time homebuyers may believe this simply means a budget for monthly payments or a number in the sand they believe they can afford – you know better. They need to be pre-approved. This ensures they can properly finance a property based on their unique circumstances (savings, income, credit scores, etc.)

So, what options are out there for first-time homebuyers? Turns out there are a lot.

Here are a few of the most common mortgage types, first-time homebuyers may qualify for.

  • FHA: A good option for first-time homebuyers as the traditional 20% down is not required to qualify. About 10% of first-time homeowners end up going this route. And according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHA financing aided over 478,000 first-time homebuyers in 2023’s fiscal year alone.
  • Conventional Mortgage: Requiring 3-20% down, this is the most common mortgage type available (accounting for 82% of first-time homeowners) and a great choice for salaried clients with good credit and savings.
  • VA: Applicable to active duty or past U.S. military members. Potential buyers do not need a down payment or mortgage insurance.
  • USDA: Good for homebuyers who are planning to buy in specific, eligible rural areas and are of low to moderate income.

Looking for more mortgage options and information? Check out our comprehensive mortgage guide.

Next? Find Out What They’re Looking For

The world may seem like an oyster to your average first-time homebuyer…but you know better.

Understanding the wants and needs of your buyers is vital to finding the right house for them. And while that list may be on the longer side for buyers who haven’t yet had to compromise on such a large purchase, it’s up to you to hear which is most important to them, their lifestyle, and their budget.


For example, we know that feature fads may come and go, paint can be replaced, and curb appeal can be corrected. However, location can’t be shifted, school districts cannot be altered, and you can’t change your neighbors (no matter how much you want to).

However, it’s vital to remember your job isn’t to be the pessimistic realist. Remember, this is a first-time journey for your new homebuyer. If it’s an unpleasant experience, what’s stopping them from going elsewhere? Be pragmatic but optimistic. If one thing isn’t possible, show them what is.

Have personalized, empathetic, and kind conversations. Ask questions. Understand the “whys” behind their preferences. Show them you’re on their side. Root for them.

If you’re looking for more tips on messaging to win over your buyers, we recommend the T.O.R.N. method, rooted in relevant, neighborly, and targeted messaging.

Viewing Houses? Check Out Our Tips

There’s no magic number for how many houses should be seen before an offer or how many offers equal a sale.

However, according to the National Association of Realtors, 2023 homebuyers typically searched for ten weeks, viewing an average of 7 homes and looking at four online. As this timeline is unchanged from 2022, you should expect a relatively similar duration in finding your new buyers their next property.

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Want to make those viewings count? Here are a few tips to delight your buyers:

  • Say Yes To The Homes They Choose. Maybe the floor plan doesn’t match exactly what they detailed in their wish list, or maybe the location is the next neighborhood over – doesn’t matter. Trust your buyers to know their reasoning best. While you should plan to come equipped with knowledge on each property and how it aligns with their specific needs (i.e., large yard for their pets, an extra bedroom for out-of-state guests, # of miles to school/work/relatives), don’t say no to a property viewing just because it doesn’t match what you think is best for them.
  • Do Come Prepared. Know the community, know the property and do your homework. Go above and beyond the MLS listing. Your buyers are depending on you for unique information and opinions. Read up before your tour, and come ready to share. And if seeing multiple properties in a day? Map out the itinerary and email it over beforehand. Better yet? Provide them recommendations near your start and ending points so they can grab coffee before or have a lunch destination ready to debrief on properties afterward.
  • Don’t Be Late. First-time homebuyers are eager for the journey in an already competitive market. Many may meet you on weekends – or they may be trying to squeeze in a showing during their lunch hour (especially for competitive properties). Value their time and go the extra mile (show up with coffee, ask for their meal order).
  • Know The Rules. While homes are open to viewings, many still have families living inside. Therefore, many properties have rules of their own for showings (common requests may be shoes off at the door, don’t let the dog out, etc.) Lesser known rules and vital info – such as security codes and how to turn them on/off, gate locks, parking regulations, etc. – should be known before stepping inside.
  • Don’t Get Tunnel Vision. While a home’s interior may wow a buyer, pay attention to your surroundings. How far is the nearest grocer? Is there walkability? Are you on a busy road? Are the neighbors loud? While these may or may not be deal breakers, they are helpful to know and report to buyers. 

Find Something They Love? Here’s How To Enhance The Offer

Have we said it’s a competitive market enough yet? We’ll say it again. It’s tough out there.

So, if your buyers find the right home, in the right neighborhood, at the right priceGo all in.


While we know things like 20% down and cash offers can strongly motivate sellers, these things aren’t always possible for first-time homebuyers.

So, how do you get creative? Easy. Work with what you have.

  • Buyer Letters. Instruct your buyers to write a personalized letter to the seller for homes they truly love. These should not be one-size-fits-all that can be sent anywhere. Not only should these letters contain information about your buyers and their families (add photos!), but they should also emphasize what they love about the current property and how they envision themselves growing and creating memories within the space.
  • Send A Thank You Post Viewing: This doesn’t need to be flashy; just a quick and kind thank you (email, flower delivery, etc.) after your buyers’ viewing goes a long way. Be respectful, not pushy, and emphasize their love for the property. It doesn’t hurt to throw in compliments around the seller’s décor style and any work they’ve tackled on the home.
  • Be Flexible: Wherever you can accommodate the seller – do. This could be an adjusted timeline for closing to allow them to find a new residence or an offer to cover closing costs or other fees. Where you can remove stress and ease the process for them – it makes your offer instantly more desirable.

 Ready to rock the process for first-time homebuyers? PropertyRadar is here to help.

Get started now with a free PropertyRadar trial and uncover your next homebuyer prospects today.

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