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First-Time Home Buyers Losing Market Share

The market share of first-time homebuyers continued to decline this year, slipping one percentage point to 38 percent and down from the long-term average of 40 percent. This is one of dozens of homebuyer characteristics included in the National Association of Realtors'® (NAR) 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Seller released today.

The Profile is compiled from a survey conducted by NAR in July among home buyers and sellers who engaged in a real estate transaction between June 2012 and June 2013. Surveys were mailed to a national sample of about 150,000 and generated 8,767 usable responses. NAR said this was the latest in a series of NAR surveys on buyer/seller demographics, preferences, motivations and experiences dating back to 1981. Results are representative of owner-occupants and do not include investors or vacation homes.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said, "The share of first-time buyers appears to be only modestly below normal, but we have to keep in mind that investors have been more active in recent years, and they're not included in these results. Historically, first-time buyers are instrumental in housing recoveries because they help existing home owners sell and make a trade."

Sixty-six percent of buyers are married couples, 16 percent are single women, 9 percent single men and 7 percent unmarried couples. In the 2010 survey 58 percent were married, 20 percent were single women, 12 percent single men and 7 percent unmarried couples.

The overall market share of single buyers declined from 32 percent in 2010 to 25 percent both this year and last. In surveys conducted prior to 2010 the market share was stable, usually moving only one or two percentage points.

Yun said tight credit continues to affect homebuyers. "Single home buyers have been suppressed for the past three years by restrictive mortgage lending standards, which favor dual-income households who are more likely to have higher credit scores," he said.

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Jann Swanson