5 ways to help first-time condo buyers

Katrina Langer
Katrina Langer | 3 min. read

Published on July 28, 2016

First-time condo buyers face many of the same challenges as first-time single-family home buyers, but the selling and ownership process works a little differently. These differences may seem obvious to members of the association board. But they may not be as clear or obvious to a young couple or family trying to buy their first home.

Remember that for buyers, one of the biggest benefits of becoming an association member is the support of the board. And the buying process is the best place to start showing off how helpful and supportive you can be. So, we’ve pulled together a list of ways to help first-time home buyers navigate the process of shopping for a condo or townhouse in an association.

  1. Be upfront about pros and cons. Never needing to mow the lawn is probably a pro for most people. Needing to abide by some particular association bylaws or face fines might be a con for some people. And it’s important to be honest about both sides of the coin: some first-time buyers may be willing to forgo a bright purple mailbox for the peace-of-mind that associations can provide. If you can get a sense for what’s most important to them right out of the gate, you may save yourself a lot of headaches later.
  2. Show them how much money they’ll save. Condos are a more affordable choice based on their sticker price alone, though it’s important to be upfront about condo fees. As Amy Teirce, regional Vice President of Wintrust Mortgage in Needham, Mass., explains, “in higher-cost markets where condos [may] be the only alternative to high-priced, single-family homes.” Ease any fears about HOA fees by showing residents what that cost covers: a 24/7 gym and never needing to plow would make $1,000 a month well worth it for many people.
  3. Talk about the community! This may seem like a no-brainer, but it ties into the first point: some people love being part of a community. In fact, it may be the very reason they’re shopping in an association to begin with. If you have a thriving community that hosts super bowl parties and gets together every month for drinks on the patio, don’t forget to mention it. A sense of community provides the security and comfort that first-time home buyers may fear they’ll be without when they stop renting.
  4. Provide resources for maintenance and upgrades. Regardless of the type of property a first-time buyer ends up with, there will be concerns about maintenance and upkeep. What are the costs? Who can help? Are there community resources they can tap into? Help make their first house their home by providing information about local businesses and resources for upgrades and repairs. Also, remind them the many ways the property management company or HOA board can ease these fears, whether it’s a dollar amount or a degree of stress.
  5. Share first-time buyer resources. Many states and agencies have a plethora of resources for first-time buyers to help them through the process. You may not have the time to handhold an interested buyer, but you can send them to their state’s resources for mortgage and lending education. For example, Massachusetts publishes a First Time Homebuyer Guide with links to affordable housing, educational materials, and mortgage information.

What have you found to be helpful when working with a first-time homebuyer? Share in the comments below!

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Katrina Langer

Katrina is the author of several Buildium ebooks and guides. She holds a B.A. in English from Northeastern University.

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