First-time Buyers, Single Women Gain Traction in NAR’s 2016 Buyer and Seller Survey

Mike Nelson - AFNThe quickening pace of home sales over the past year included a small rebound from two key segments of buyers who have been missing in action in recent years: first-time buyers and single women.

This is according to the National Association of Realtors®’ annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, which also found that for-sale-by-owner transactions remained at an all-time low of 8 percent for the second straight year. Nearly 90 percent of all respondents worked with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home.

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The 2016 edition of NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers continues the longest-running series of national housing data evaluating the demographics, preferences, motivations, plans and experiences of recent home buyers and sellers; the survey dates back to 1981. Results are representative of owner-occupants and do not include investors or vacation homes.

After slipping for three straight years, the share of sales to first-time home buyers in the 2016 survey ticked up to 35 percent, which is the highest since 2013 (38 percent) and a revival from the near 30-year low of 32 percent in 2015. In the 35-year history of NAR’s survey, the long-term average of first-time buyer transactions is 40 percent.

 

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says more new homeowners were able to break through what continues to be a laborious market for many trying to enter. “Young adults are settling down and deciding to buy a home after what was likely a turbulent beginning to their adult life and career following the Great Recession,” he said. “Demand increased over the past year because of a robust job market for those with a college degree and renter fatigue at a time when homeowners continue to see their equity rise. These factors were why more first-time buyers (67 percent) said a desire to own a home of their own was the primary reason for their purchase (64 percent in 2015; 53 percent in 2014).” Added Yun, “Even with the affordability challenges many buyers face, the allure of homeownership is not lost among the younger generation. Those under age 35 made up 61 percent of first-time buyer transactions.”

Although the increase in new homeowners is encouraging, their overall share of the market is still subpar, according to Yun. The lack of affordable new and existing inventory, home prices in many markets rising far above wages and difficulty saving for a down payment because of rising rents and student debt is why the homeownership rate for 18 to 35-year-olds is currently hovering near its historical low .

“First-timers’ ability to enter the market more convincingly over the next year greatly depends on supply improvements at the lower end of the market and if wages can finally awaken from their sluggish pace of growth,” added Yun.

Single female buyers on the mend, age of first-time buyers on the rise
As in year’s past, married couples once again made up the largest share of buyers (66 percent) and had the highest income ($99,200). However, the survey revealed that single women made up more of the buyer pie than in recent years (based on household composition). After falling to 15 percent of buyers a year ago, which tied the lowest share since 2002, single females represented 17 percent of total purchases (highest since 2011 at 18 percent).

“Despite having a much lower income ($55,300) than single male buyers ($69,600), female buyers made up over double the amount of men (7 percent),” said Yun. “Single women for years have indicated a strong desire to own a home of their own, as well as an inclination to live closer to friends and family. With job growth holding steady and credit conditions becoming somewhat less stringent than in past years, the willingness and opportunity to buy is becoming more feasible for many single women.”

The median age of first-time buyers in this year’s survey was 32, matching the all-time high last set back in 2006, and up from 31 the past five years. The typical first-time buyer had a higher household income ($72,000) than last year ($69,400) and purchased a slightly larger home (1,650-square-feet; 1,620-square-feet in 2015) that was more expensive ($182,500; $170,000 in 2015).

The typical repeat buyer was 52 years old (53 in 2015), earned $98,000 ($98,700 in 2015) and purchased a 2,000-square-foot home (2,020 square-feet in 2015) costing $250,000 ($246,400 in 2015).
Sources: CNBC.com- Diana Olick- Nov. 10, 2016 Realtor Magazine Org- Oct. 31, 2016 Realtor Magazine Org- Nov. 10, 2016 The Lighter Side of Real Estate- Sarah D’hondt

 

 

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