By:  Jessica Thiefels

Free Financial Tools That Educate Clients in the Buying Process

Buying a home is scary and exciting, all at once. While you’ll walk clients through the process, ensuring their comfort and understanding along the way, your work with them starts before you set up appointments for home viewings. It starts with learning and educating, and apps make it easy for you to facilitate that process.

When your buyers are educated, they’re able to participate in the conversations you have and make smart decisions about what they want. Empowering them in this way makes the process more fun for everyone, so share these free tools to help your clients help themselves. You may even refer to them as you tour homes and discuss the value of renovations or home budgeting.

Mint

 Knowing your current financial standing is critical in the home buying process, and in many cases, clients need their pre-approval before even visiting a home for sale. As you’re working with clients before they take that first financial step, encourage them to get a clear overview of their current finances.

“I probably repeat myself too much, but I really like tools like Mint.com that aggregate data from all of your financial accounts and summarize it for you,” says Micah Fraim, CPA. Why? He continues, “It gives a nice snapshot of your entire financial situation: how much you’re making vs. how much you’re spending, where your money is going, debt vs. assets, etc. which makes it a great tool if you’re looking to make any kind of major financial decision.”

Refinance Calculator

Buyers may feel nervous about a high monthly mortgage payment, and understandably so. The good thing is—as you know—it doesn’t have to stay that way. They can refinance at a later date for a lower rate and payment. To show them how much they could save down the road, share this calculator from Quicken Loans. They may be more likely to invest in the home of their dreams when they know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Home Value Estimator 

More and more buyers are using online resources to browse homes, even when they’re working with a real estate professional, about 43 percent, according to NAR. In addition to the insight you provide, clients can learn about the value of homes they’re seeing online with a home value tool. This particular one, from Homelight, provides five estimates along with a market analysis report. Clients can match up listing price of the homes they love with the estimated value, and as they visit open houses and browse listings, they’ll be more informed and less vulnerable to tricky listing games.

Mortgage Calculator

Many first-time buyers don’t realize that there are a variety of factors that go into a mortgage payment, including HOA fees, property taxes and insurance. Instead of giving them an opportunity to get excited about homes they can’t afford, tell them to run the numbers with this mortgage calculator from Fannie Mae. Within minutes, they’ll have a clear picture of what owning a home really looks like in terms of monthly mortgage payments. It may shock them at first, but will ultimately be helpful.

Use this as a way of guiding them toward homes they can afford, where HOA fees are lower or property taxes are more affordable.

Home Improvement Value

When looking at “fixer-uppers” a tool like this home improvement calculator is a great way to explain upgrades like a kitchen renovation or roof repair in dollars and cents. It may be hard for buyers to wrap their minds around the idea that spending $30K on renovations can actually increase the value of their home in a real way. When they use this calculator, however, they’re able to assign a value they can understand with an expensive renovation that may be hard to swallow. In the end, it may be what convinces them to invest in a home that needs a little love.

Help Your Clients Help Themselves

A thorough agent is with their clients every step of the way, including as they take the first steps. Share these tools with all prospective clients to show them that you care about more than just making a commission. You want to help them find a home they can afford, now and as they grow. In the end, you may even garner more referral business as an agent that truly wants to help.

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer and content marketing consultant. She’s worked with a variety of real estate clients, and has written for Forbes, Inman, Remax, Homes.com and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.