A new wave of first-time homebuyers is hitting Canada. In a special series of stories, four RE/MAX agents explain how they accommodate first-time buyers in their markets. Their various approaches contain a wide variety of good ideas.
Expert No. 1: Alex Wilson, RE/MAX Condos Plus, Toronto, Ontario
For Alex Wilson, first-time buyers account for the vast majority of his clientele, largely because they're his peers.
"I do a lot of online networking through social media," says Wilson, a 100 Percent Club member. "I'm spending time developing my Facebook profile and business website to create a couple of good 'destinations' for people to find me."
Tips: 'Get to know them and build trust'
1. Boost face time – I throw a lot of client-appreciation and charity events to build up my network of friends and customers. I do almost no traditional marketing, such as flyers and billboards. Hundreds come to my annual charity boat cruise on Lake Ontario and other gatherings like Buffalo Bills tailgate parties. They get to know me and what I'm all about. There's no hard selling, but I let them know I'm an agent and they can approach me when they have real estate questions.
2. Get on Facebook – It's a big method of promotion, because that's where most young first-timers are. At each event I host, I collect everyone's contact information and later add as many as I can as Facebook friends. I'm up to 750 or so. Then through Facebook and word of mouth, I advertise my next event. It's not a fan page, just my regular Facebook page, and it's completely open for viewing. I only add people as friends who I've met and know. Facebook is a great way to communicate.
3. Wear kid gloves – When I'm first dealing with first-time buyers, they're very nervous about going into an incredible amount of debt. I want to make them comfortable with the entire process, step-by-step. That means starting with prequalification, understanding amortization and feeling comfortable with a certain mortgage payment. After initial "training," I give them a little real estate test to make sure they know where we're headed.
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