As a staunch advocate of homeownership, Kristen Boyd likes to pose a question to her social media followers: “How much is your rent?” When they respond, she’ll post a photo of a home for sale that they could own for the same as their monthly rent. She’s found many people don’t realize they can afford to buy and are unfamiliar with down payment assistance programs. Boyd, 29, soaks up educational materials about different lending options. She’s an enthusiastic networker with lenders, title agents, closing coordinators, and insurers. This breadth of knowledge helps her break down home costs more accurately for prospects. The trait that most helps her keep parties on track during a negotiation: empathy. “Then, I’m more inclined to understand the sellers’ needs as well as the buyers’ possible anxiety,” she says.