10 Tips for Making Your Home Appeal to First-Time Buyers

First-time home buyers are eager, knowledgeable, and motivated — and there are a lot of them. A Zillow report from 2022 found that 45% of all home buyers were first-time buyers. With a market share that big, it’s common sense for every home seller to make sure their home is appealing to the first-time home buyer.

Whether you’re selling your home through a conventional agent you’ve got a years-long relationship with, or trying your hand at listing the home yourself, here are some of the best ways to make sure your home is irresistible to the first-time home buyer.

Give them a low-maintenance home

Different buyers want different homes. For example, companies that buy houses for cash just want four walls and a roof, if that. But most buyers — and especially first-time buyers — want a home that’s move-in ready.  

First-time buyers who aren’t targeting a fixer-upper probably have neither the faith in their abilities to fix things up around the house nor the motivation to do so. Make their decision easier by taking care of routine maintenance and small repairs around the house. Address leaky faucets, squeaky hinges, burned-out light bulbs, and other small “quality of life” fixes before you list your home.


Deep clean and declutter

A deep clean is exactly what it sounds like — a deep, thorough cleaning of your home to restore it as close as possible to “like new” condition. Start high up with ceilings and windows, so the dirt moves downward. Scrub the walls, ceilings, floors, and all other surfaces, with special attention to high-traffic areas. Don’t neglect door and window frames, and various nooks and crannies that you don’t normally include in a house cleaning.

When you declutter, your aim is to make your storage spaces look roomy, and for your home’s visible areas to look uncluttered and calming. A general rule is that you want closets and cupboards to be half-full. Buyers will be checking these areas out, and if they look overstuffed, they’ll assume the home doesn’t have enough storage space. Make sure all counters and other horizontal surfaces are free of clutter.

You should also de-personalize your home as much as possible, so it can be a blank canvas for prospective buyers. Put family photos away, and if you have distinctive artwork or furniture, consider trading them out for something more neutral while you’re showing your home.

Don’t underestimate curb appeal

Buyers often make their minds up about a house during the first few minutes or even seconds. That makes “curb appeal” — how enticing your home looks as a person walks up to it from the roadway — extremely important in making the right first impression.

The best way to assess your home’s curb appeal is to, well, look at it from the curb. Go out front of your house and take an objective look at it. Does your landscaping need a professional touch? Are your trees, hedges, and lawn trimmed? Are your mailbox, front door, and home facade clean and aesthetically pleasing? Pay close attention even to small features like lawn furniture, window treatments, fences, gates, and even your welcome mat. First-time buyers will definitely notice the details.

A new coat of paint

Putting down a new coat of paint in your home can make it look brighter, cleaner, and newer. It’s also one of the most cost-effective home improvement measures you can undertake. The pain will only cost a couple hundred dollars, and you can do the labor yourself in a weekend.

Stick with soft, neutral tones like eggshell, light gray, beige, or “greige.” Resist the impulse to paint your walls flat white, as it tends to look harsh and institutional. White also ages badly because it readily shows dirt.

Let there be light

There’s nothing more flattering to a house than natural light, so make sure you’re maximizing your home’s brightness. Remove heavy, obstructive window treatments, and trim any exterior trees and bushes that block the sun. Wash your windows, and strategically place mirrors to reflect light into dimmer areas of the home.

For areas where you can’t let in natural light, invest in soft, high-wattage bulbs and floor lamps.

Give your kitchen and bathroom a glow-up

You don’t have to take on a full kitchen or bathroom renovation to dramatically increase their appeal. A little work to improve their cosmetic features can do wonders.

In the kitchen, repaint your cabinets, and install stylish handles and drawer pulls. Consider tiling the backsplash, and either replacing or resurfacing the counters. In the bathroom, replace the basin if it has a lot of miles on it, and consider putting in new, ultra-bright lighting. Replace disposable features like shower curtains, towels, and soap dishes.

Offer concessions

The seller’s market of the past several years is slowly cooling. One of the most telling of all homeowner statistics out there is that over 40% of sellers in the fourth quarter of 2022 gave concessions to buyers. That’s a record high.

Rising mortgage rates and general turbulence have reduced the number of home buyers, and the ones who remain know they have leverage. They also know that the skyrocketing home values of the past few years have left sellers with plenty of breathing room to make concessions.

Common concessions range from covering the buyer’s home appraisal fees, title insurance, attorney fees, property taxes, and loan origination fees, to offering substantial credits for repairs or replacements. Financial incentives like seller concessions and substantial home rebates can convince hesitant buyers that the time is right to sign on the dotted line.

Emphasize the local schools

Many first-time buyers are young parents who’ve recently started a family. If you live in a good school district, emphasize that. Do research ahead of time, so you can offer specific claims and data points about the local schools. State rankings, test scores, and graduation rates can be very compelling to parents.

Think green

Today’s buyers are looking for energy-efficient home features— as much for the environment as for their utility bills.

Energy-efficient windows and appliances are extremely attractive to younger buyers, and should be emphasized in your listing. Energy-efficient light fixtures and LED light bulbs are also popular, and are easy and inexpensive to install yourself.

Be honest and open

First-time home buyers are often on uncertain financial footing. Young buyers especially may have a lot of student debt that delayed their first home purchase, and may be leery of getting stuck with a flawed home. Instead of giving them the hard sell, gain their trust by being direct and upfront about any of your home’s shortcomings, and fully answering all their questions.

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