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Sometimes well-qualified buyers have good reason to proceed with caution when buying a home, even when homeownership is easily within their reach and an important part of their life goals. Be it a life event such as planning a wedding, going through a divorce, relocating to a new area unfamiliar to them, or even considering whether or not now is the right time to purchase a home, there are certain circumstances where committing to a mortgage may be too much to take on.

Here we take a closer look at some of the potential challenges a qualified buyer may face, and ways you, as their agent, can offer connections and referrals to helpful services they might need and appreciate:

Cost of Living Differences
If your clients are thinking about moving to a new area, one of the biggest considerations should be understanding what additional costs they may have in their new location. Different places come with different price tags. For example, housing prices in the downtown of a large city are going to be far higher than in a small town. Make sure they know what they’ll be spending before they commit. Even grocery prices tend to change. The worst thing that could happen is they move and find out they can’t afford their new city. Financial planning makes all the difference, and it can help avoid future panic or crises.

Unsure of How Long They Plan to Stay
Some renters or qualified buyers might be cautious about committing to a mortgage because they don’t know how long they will be in their new area, perhaps due to a temporary work assignment or because of a change in relationship status. A client may be retiring and wanting to try out a warmer climate, upsizing or downsizing, or moving “just because”—just wanting to try out a new environment or make a fresh start. Whatever the reason, these qualified buyers may want to “try before they buy” in a new place, but still want the benefits of living in a single-family home. 

Limited Inventory of Quality Options
While real estate experts agree the national inventory shortage is improving, it’s still cause for concern in many markets. While higher prices due to an insufficient supply of mid-priced homes in metro markets with strong job growth may not be as big an issue to a well-qualified buyer, the lack of inventory itself can be. Creative housing options, like Home Partners of America’s Lease Purchase Program, can be an ideal option in inventory-challenged markets, especially for those who have little or no financial barriers. 

Nervous About Committing to a Large Purchase
Similar to their reasons for moving to a new area, well-qualified buyers also may have different reasons for not wanting to commit to making a large financial purchase at a given time in their lives. Perhaps they are saving for a wedding or have kids heading off to college, or possibly have medical bills or other larger financial obligations that need to take precedence—whatever the reason, flexible home-buying options may work better for them.

Major Life Changes
Most of the reasons we’ve listed are centered around experiencing other major life changes at the same time that someone may have an opportunity to move into first-time or repeat homeownership. But as their qualified real estate professional, you have the opportunity to help them navigate through their experiences and the buying process by offering flexible and creative options that won’t over-burden them. A try-before-you-buy option, along with an ability to refer them to services they may need, helps secure their trust in you as a valued partner to assist with their real estate needs, and can help them achieve all their goals in a manageable way.

Bridging the Needs
Some relationships you may consider forming or developing further include human resource departments hiring from outside the area, such as hospitals hiring doctors and nurses or students going through residency, and colleges and universities hiring professors or seeking grad students.

Agents should build these HR relationships in order to refer not only relocating buyers with good credit, but also renters or buyers who are cautious about committing to a mortgage because they don’t know how long they will be in the area, but still want the benefits of living in a single-family home. Relocating clients often experience many of the challenges outlined in this article.

Of course, lenders and attorneys are always an important referral for buyers. Most real estate professionals refer clients to a select group of lenders, and they choose those companies based on the ease of doing business with them, their reputations and the strength of those relationships.

For qualified buyers, your intimate knowledge of your lender network will be invaluable to new clients looking to find the right mortgage partner for their needs. And in the same spirit, if your buyer is going through a major life event, such as a wedding, divorce, relocation or retirement, having a recommended attorney for them can bridge needed services. Be sure to take time to get to know those you recommend so you’re confident in your referrals.

If you have a well-qualified client looking to get into a single-family home, but is nervous or hesitant about buying at this time, you may also want to consider offering a flexible housing option like the Lease Purchase Program offered by Home Partners of America. Home Partners works with qualified residents and their agents to identify a home for sale they’re interested in, purchases the home, and then leases it to the resident with a right to purchase in the future.

This unique program provides residents the opportunity to get into a great quality home in a good neighborhood and try before they buy! They have the opportunity to rent the home in one-year increments for up to five years in most markets and they have full rent certainty during that time. They are also given the exclusive right to buy the home back from Home Partners at a preset price if they would like to do so. The program is a win for all involved as agents receive the benefit of turning a rental lead into a full sales commission!

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Beth McGuire is RISMedia’s online managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at beth@rismedia.com.

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