Economists' Outlook

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First-Time Home Buyers: 31 Percent of Residential Buyers

Approximately 31 percent of REALTORS® who responded to the latest REALTORS® Confidence Index survey reported making a sale to first-time home buyers. Normally first-time buyers are in the neighborhood of 40 percent of total residential sales, according to NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. The proportion of first-time home buyers hit a peak of approximately 50 percent in 2009. Most first-time buyers obtain a mortgage: About 8.7 percent of REALTORS® who made a first-time home buyer sale reported a cash sale (compared to 10.8 percent in July).

The decrease in first-time buyers from the typical 40 percent share in part reflects the difficulty of securing mortgage financing, delays with distressed sales, and purchases of lower priced properties by investors. REALTORS® have noted that that investors offering all-cash sales to sellers have crowded out first-time buyers in some cases, particularly in the case of distressed properties. Unsuccessful first-time buyers typically continue their property search, sometimes making a number of bids before securing a property.

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