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RISMEDIA, November 2, 2009—It is clear to see that first-time homebuyers have had a major impact on today’s real estate market, especially because of the $8,000 First-Time Home Buyer tax credit. Catering to the needs of first-time buyers is one of the best things you can do today. As the expiration date for the tax credit continues to draw closer and with talk about the tax credit being both extended and expanded, now is the perfect opportunity to connect with first-time buyers. Here, Kelly Roark, Vice President, Interactive Sales & Development, HGTV-, Scripps Networks discusses 8 ways in which you can connect with first-timers. 

kroark2Kelly Roark
Vice President, Interactive Sales & Development
HGTV –, Scripps Networks 

Thanks to the $8,000 First-Time Home Buyer tax credit, first-time home buyers (FTHBs) currently account for more than half of U.S. home sales per month (NAR). Nearly 80% of them use the Web to narrow their home search or find answers to specific home purchase questions, according to real estate coach Howard Brinton. With the November 30 deadline approaching to exercise the credit, there is still time to connect with this group online and close more business. So, what’s the trick? 

1). Know your audience. A range of new buyers are coming into the market, but increasingly, they include unmarried women and minorities who are more likely to be influenced by family and friends, according to Jack Haynes, SVP of Countrywide’s National Builder Division. Is this the case in your area? 

2). Send the right message. When communicating online, focus on the simplicity of the sale and share step-by-step tactics to avoid common purchase pitfalls (e.g., responding too slowly in competitive situations, not asking a lender enough questions, etc.). Also, demystify what “affordability” means and customize your mortgage calculator for “rent” vs. “buy” and/or what someone can afford. 

3). Optimize yourself for FTHBs. Focus search-engine optimization and marketing campaigns on specialized topics in your neighborhood, first-time buying, short sales and/or foreclosures included. Develop a vanity URL (e.g., or 

4). Target transition points. If your marketing includes online banners, advertise on non-home sale sites where FTHBs may look (e.g.,,, and 

5). Hold a sweepstakes. Get more FTHB leads quickly by offering prize money for a down payment or cash to fix up a first home. 

6). Help FTHBs visualize their new home. If an FTHB is considering a fixer-upper or vacant property, use online tools, such as, to electronically stage a home so they can see its true potential. 

7). Start an online dialogue. Use Facebook and Twitter to share listings ideal for your FTHBs, a how-to article on first-time buying or a rent-vs.-buy guide. HGTV’s has 5,000+ how-to articles and 500 videos, which you can share via Facebook—plus a dedicated URL to access FTHB information at ( 

8). Get FTHBs involved. Participate in an online home community where consumers share their best home renovations or favorite architectural style. An example of this would be the My First Place Gallery, which contains 27 pages of first homes users are sharing with others via Or, create an area on your own site, blog or Facebook page where FTHBs can share their favorite neighborhood photo or best tip for other buyers. 

Most importantly, take advantage of this unique time in the market to develop more FTHB business.