The number of first-time homeowners reached its lowest level in three decades.
According to an annual survey of homebuyers by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), only 33 percent of total purchases this year were by first-timers, down from 38 percent a year ago. The long-term average, dating back to 1981, shows that 4 out of 10 purchases were by first-time buyers.
The reason? “Rising rents and repaying student loan debt makes saving for a down payment more difficult, especially for young adults who’ve experienced limited job prospects and flat wage growth since entering the workforce,” said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist. He added that a shortage of homes in affordable price ranges, competition from investors, tighter credit conditions and high mortgage insurance premiums provided additional bumps in the road.
However, recent announcements from the two biggest housing agencies, Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FHLMC), may help this number in the coming year.
Proposed Lending Changes to Encourage Homebuying
In mid-October, changes were proposed by the two government-regulated housing agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While the agencies don’t directly lend money to consumers, they do buy mortgages made by banks and other financial institutions, which frees up money to lend to more homebuyers. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the proposed changes include looser credit guidelines as well as the possibility for a 3 percent down payment option when buying a home. Stay tuned as the details become clearer in the first quarter of 2015.
This is good news for people in markets where rents are skyrocketing more than they can keep up, and for prospective buyers who had been unable to buy before.
The Bottom Line
Rates are still at advantageous annual lows. If you have any questions regarding housing or know of friends, family or colleagues who are renting and wish to discuss buying a home next year, please get in touch.