NAR Survey Shows First-Time Home Buyers Set Record in Past Year

First-time home buyers reached the highest market share on record during the past year, according to the latest consumer survey of home buyers and sellers. The 2009 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is the latest in a series of large national NAR surveys evaluating demographics, preferences, marketing and experiences of recent home buyers and sellers. Among national surveys, NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is unprecedented in size and scope.

Paul Bishop, NAR vice president of research, said several factors have been at play. “Tax incentives, record high affordability conditions and a pent-up demand brought a record share of first-time home buyers into the market,” he said. “These buyers are critical to housing and a general economic recovery because the market always heals from the bottom up – they absorb inventory, free existing owners to make a trade and stimulate related goods and services.”

The number of first-time home buyers rose to 47 percent of all home sales from 41 percent of transactions in last year’s study, and was the highest on record dating back to 1981. The previous high was 44 percent in 1991. “It’s interesting to note the last cyclical peak of first-time home buyers was during the last noteworthy economic downturn, with first-time buyers starting the chain reaction that led the nation out of recession,” Bishop said.

The profile shows the median age of first-time buyers was 30 and the median income was $61,600. The typical first-time buyer purchased a home costing $156,000, down from $165,000 in the 2008 study, and plans to stay in that home for 10 years.

Fifty-five percent of entry level buyers reported they financed their purchase with an FHA loan, while another 8 percent used the VA loan program.

First-time buyers who made a down-payment used a variety of sources: 61 percent used savings and 22 percent received a gift from a friend or relative, typically from their parents. Six percent received a loan from a relative or friend, 6 percent tapped into a 401(k) fund, and 6 percent sold stocks or bonds. Ninety-six percent chose a fixed-rate mortgage.

First-time buyers often make financial sacrifices to purchase a home: 39 percent cut spending on luxury items, 38 percent cut back on entertainment and 30 percent cut spending on clothes.

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