In property it’s a mistake to think that every buyer is the same and to treat them all the same. Every buyer is an individual and needs a different kind of service. Broadly though, there are five main types of house (or flat) buyer. Here are the different types and what you need to know about them:

The First Time Buyer

First time buyers or FTB’s are as the name suggests the ‘L plate’ buyers in the property market. Apart from knowing that they want to buy a house or flat – and maybe feeling pressured into getting onto the housing ladder – they know little else about the process.

First time buyers often have high expectations but are generally on a fixed budget, limited by the highest loan to value mortgage they’re eligible for. They’ll usually be limited to cheaper and smaller properties or cheaper areas. These types of buyers are often attracted to brand new properties too thanks to buying schemes and, since all their spare cash goes on a deposit, there’s usually little left over for major renovations.

First time buyers will appreciate lots of advice and hand-holding not just on the property market but on the other aspects of buying a property like making offers and having an offer accepted, mortgages and finance, conveyancing, surveys and so on. Just to add to the complications, they frequently need to take advice from parents (who may be helping out financially) or friends before making a decision too.

The Second (Or Third, Fourth, Fifth Or More) Stepper

Second steppers – and much the same applies to anyone who has bought more than once – have bought a home before and are now looking to move on, usually to something bigger and better. Second steppers know the mechanics of buying a house and are pretty clear about what they want. They’re confident, and sometimes a bit too confident so not ready to take advice even when maybe they ought to.

Second steppers tend to be in the market for the largest and best homes in any area, often with all the latest mod cons. They tend to be pretty well resourced, often with a good income and maybe with equity from a previous house. But they may also be maxing out the budget to get that perfect home or forever home. Some second steppers, perhaps those whose budgets don’t entirely fit with their dreams, could be happy to take on a fixer upper renovation or extension project too.

Buyers in this group are very often families, with young or perhaps teenage children. So the issue of school catchment areas and school travel times will come over and above everything else and rule every decision. That’s something that can make finding a great home, even on a very healthy budget, difficult.

The Downsizer

Downsizers are buyers who already own a house and are looking to move on but, importantly, to something smaller or cheaper or both than they’ve been used to.

The big advantage of downsizers – for them, for sellers, and for agents too – is that they’re selling at a higher price than they’re buying for. That means they aren’t limited by mortgage criteria, deposits and LTVs and so there’s flexibility in their budget.

It’s important not to make too many assumptions about downsizers though. Downsizers are very often retired, approaching retirement, or middle-aged people whose children have just left home. But they could also be newly separated people, or those whose financial situation calls for a smaller and more economical home.

Downsizers may well have been out of the property market loop for some time. So they will very often need advice on local market conditions, plus where and what their money will buy them.

The Investor

Investors play an important part in the property market. They’re potential buyers for those properties that owner occupiers don’t want or can’t buy, such as those needing extensive renovation, which are unmortgageable, or in areas unpopular with owner-occupiers but with strong rental markets.

Investors are buying to make money, not nesting, so it’s less important what or where the property is but absolutely essential that the numbers stack up. Their project might be a buy to let but it could easily be a renovation, development or ‘flip’ too.

As with other buyer types it’s important not to make assumptions. Some investors will be newbie investors, completely unaware of what makes a good investment. Others may be highly experienced, know exactly what they’re looking for, all the financial and legal ins-and-outs and be fast operators.

All investors will appreciate good advice on local market conditions, where prices and rents are going, and having prospective investment properties ‘flagged up’ to them.

The Mixed Up Buyer

Mixed up buyers don’t fit into any of the groups above! They’re best described as the mixed up buyer because they don’t know exactly what they want or are looking for the house that doesn’t exist.

You might know the sort of buyer we mean: They want somewhere in a town close to shops, schools and work but it mustn’t have any road noise. They’re looking for a cosy cottage but it must be airy with large rooms, high ceilings (and parking). They want a house that’s ready to move into without any work, yet they want to make some money on it.

Mixed up buyers are the most difficult to deal with because, if they don’t know what they want, it’s impossible for anyone else to either. The best thing you can do is listen to what they say, give them the best advice, then leave them to get on with it!


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