Graham Wood is senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First-Time Buyer at 73
Connecting with my mature client was easy. We had much in common.
November - December
- Clients are never too old to be first-time home buyers.
- They may have the same questions about down payments and mortgages as younger buyers.
- Take all possible safety precautions during the pandemic. Along with masks keeping you and clients safer, they may be seen as a sign of respect.
A past client named Dan called me out of the blue in April. It had been at least a decade since I helped him sell his late mother’s home. Now, at age 73, Dan said he was finally ready to purchase a home of his own. This unusually mature first-time buyer was a literature professor at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. He had spent much of his adult life traveling and teaching at universities around the world. Those experiences fueled his creative writing for years. But he had reduced his number of trips and had been living in the same rental apartment for 15 years, so he was ready to find a permanent home. Dan was looking for a low-maintenance property, a place that didn’t require many repairs or much remodeling.
I quickly realized, though, that aside from finding the right home for him, Dan was really looking for an agent who could help him navigate his particular concerns about the homebuying process. He had the usual first-timer questions about how to qualify for a mortgage and what kind of down payment he needed. And with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, he wanted guidance on how someone at his stage of life with previous heart and lung conditions could safely tour homes and complete a real estate transaction.
These issues are my personal concerns, too, and they enabled me to make a strong connection with him and ease his fears. I’m 69 and have asthma. I explained to Dan that I wear masks, gloves, and booties when going inside homes, and I supply the same for my clients. We talked about when this gear was and wasn’t necessary, such as when we were inside versus outside a property. I also said I would open all doors and windows so he wouldn’t need to touch anything. It brought Dan comfort to know that I took precautions for everyone’s health and safety; he saw it as a show of respect.
As we began the home search with confidence in our safety plan, I learned of an 890-square-foot, three-bedroom, one-bath bungalow that was being flipped. I knew the sellers who were doing the flip—in fact, they were investors I’d previously helped in selling a few properties. The bungalow had new appliances, flooring, and windows, and the sellers were adding a new front porch, sprucing up the backyard, and repaving the driveway. I knew the space would be perfect for Dan. With the extensive remodel, he could feel assured that the home was move-in ready, and it had ample space for his needs.
While Dan instantly fell in love with the place, I also wanted him to think beyond the immediate transaction. I advised him to learn all he could about the property updates with future resale in mind. I wanted to be sure the contractors were reputable and didn’t cut corners, which could hurt the home’s future value.
The sellers assured us they were working with quality contractors with whom they had a long history. We closed on the $172,000 house in July, and Dan is now in a place he can finally call his home.
—Lynn d’Lindsey, ABR, Rector Hayden, REALTORS®, Lexington, Ky.
As told to