First-time buyers and single women stood out in the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, released Monday. First-time buyers accounted for 35% of home sales — the highest percentage since 2013 and up from 32% in 2015. Single females took a 17% share of sales, up from 15% a year ago.
Individuals under the age of 35 accounted for six in 10 first-time buyer transactions. Still, the homeownership rate for that group remains at a historical low.
- Nine in 10 respondents worked with a real estate agent to either buy or sell a home, according to the report.
A strong job market and "renter fatigue" are pushing many young adults into the housing market, where high home values encourage the prospect of building equity, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a release. But they’re doing so later than ever. The median age of first-time buyers is 32, according to the NAR survey, compared to 31 for the last five years and matching 2006’s record high.
One reason for the continued delay in homebuying is student loan debt. The NAR report found that debt — including, but not limited to, student loans — pushed back saving for a mortgage by roughly three years. Four in 10 first-time buyers said they had student loan debt, with the typical borrower owing around $26,000.
Still, most buyers continue to pull from personal savings to make a down payment on a home, followed by a gift from family (27%) or a friend (24%), according to the NAR. Repeat buyers used the proceeds from the sale of their previous home.
Despite the challenges facing them, first-time buyers are starting to return to the market. First-time homebuyers drove existing-home sales in September, taking their largest share in more than four years at 34%. And a report from real-estate listing website Realtor.com found that more than half of individuals looking for a home in September were doing so for the first time.