First time home buyers, whether single or a couple or a young family, represent a growing market for existing home sales. Often millennials, they have preferences that aren't exactly the same as other buyers. 

Like most buyers, they want a clean and spacious home. But first time buyers have special preferences, too, and knowing how to appeal to them will help you tap into this large, important demographic.  

Offer move-in ready

A home purchase is a major investment, the largest one most people will make in their lifetime. Today's homes are pricey. Because they are not cashing out of a previously owned home, new buyers will be using precious savings to make a down payment. So, they want a home that doesn't need updates and repairs once they are the new owners.

They don't want to worry about expensive, unforeseen repairs down the road. They are less likely to have funds for improvements like exterior painting, popcorn ceiling removal, a new roof, updated bathrooms, or a kitchen remodel. 

How does your home stack up next to comparable properties -- homes near you, about the same age, with similar square footage and number of rooms? Do your research and look online to see how the competition is presenting itself. You may decide to make some improvements to compete. 

Be patient

Any real estate transaction is a multi-step process. A newbie can be overwhelmed by all the detailed communications, from reviewing the initial paperwork and scheduling showings, to the multiple  documents that need to be signed at each step of the negotiating process. He can get confused and maybe drop the ball once or twice. It's important to work closely with your Realtor to make sure your buyer understands all the details as you move through the selling procedure.  

Be honest

While younger buyers may not be knowledgeable about how the deal unfolds, they are more savvy than older buyers about how the internet works. Online, they've already read all about your house. They can find out things like what you paid for it and when, who the neighbors are, and how much you still owe on the home. They can search social media to read about you, as well. 

Once you understand the information your buyer might already have, you can see how important it is to be forthright about your home's specifications, not to withhold crucial information, and to respect your buyer's acquired knowledge of your property, and not to "hard sell" your house. Nothing works like the truth, and a good Realtor will make sure your data is accurate.  

If your home doesn't have an outdoor
space for relaxing and entertaining, one of the
easiest ways to add something functional is 
by installing concrete pavers to create a patio. 
 Photo: Future PLC/Polly Eltes via Ideal Home

Stage entertainment areas

Younger buyers, especially singles, are likely to keep up an active social life. Singles will want to invite friends over for hanging out, games and TV. A young family will want to entertain at home. Stage your home to feature its outdoor areas for enjoying meals and backyard sports. Inside, show what rooms can be flex space. 

Some millennials will want a serious home office and Zoom room for work. Families with young children want a yard for playing. Show how your home can offer a carefree lifestyle by simplified yardwork, modern appliances, uncluttered spaces, and easy-to-care-for flooring like LVP planking.    

Demonstrate economy 

Prospective buyers get to see utility bills. They want to know the cost of cable, internet, water, and electricity. Replacing your HVAC as soon as you are considering selling your home is a smart move. Older units and ductwork begin to heat and cool less efficiently, and a newer unit will be more energy efficient. A history of low energy bills is a plus when you go to market with your property. 

Whatever green features your home offers are things you should brag about in the listing, so make sure your listing agent knows if you have things like an on-demand water heater, an attic fan, smart thermostat, well-insulated doors and windows, a landscape that's not thirsty, passive solar heating, and new major appliances. Let home shoppers know that you have reliable, high speed internet service.    

Check your landscaping

None of us are immune to the opinions of others. People base many of their buying decisions on what others will think of them -- whether it's a car or a new pair of shoes. This is especially true of the demographics that make up first time home buyers. How your home looks from the outside is a deciding card. 

Review your curb appeal but driving by, comparing it to neighboring homes. Photograph your home from the road, driveway or sidewalk, so you can check how the landscape looks with fresh eyes. Does the lawn have healthy green grass? Are trees limbed up to look neat and let natural light enter windows? Are shrubs pruned correctly? Lawn edges trimmed? Fresh mulch applied?   

Add trendy furnishings

If your current furnishings are looking tired and dated, consider renting or borrowing some contemporary pieces to give your home a minor face lift. Stage with your best pieces that aren't fussy looking or old fashioned. Add a couple of cheap knock-offs that look trendy from big box stores.  Decorate with neutral colors and DIY modern art. If some of your electronics are dated, hide them when your home is photographed and shown so young buyers feel right at home. 

Your home staging should be based on simple
furnishings with clean lines. Photo: Sunset Magazine

Get the look, get the book

To make sure your home is staged to sell, don't leave here before you download my home staging eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. You'll have all the tricks of the trade to make your home stand out, the one that shows well online and in person. Don't take your home to market unless it's ready to meet or beat the competition.