The share of first-time home buyers has remained essentially unchanged for the last five years. First-time home buyers accounted for 29 percent of existing home sales in September 2015, according to the September 2015 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey Report.12 REALTOR® respondents reported that tight inventory, increasingly unaffordable prices, weak income, and credit profiles that fail to meet tighter underwriting standards are conditions that continue to work against first-time home buyers.
Buyers age 34 and under, which are typically first-time buyers, accounted for 28 percent of sales reported by the respondents. Nearly half of buyers were in the 35 to 55-year old age group.
Slightly more than half of all reported buyers lived in their own homes before making their recent home purchase. These include trade-up or trade-down buyers as well as those who are purchasing a second home or one for investment purpose. Prior renters, many of whom are first-time buyers, accounted for 35 percent of sales, essentially unchanged compared to past months.
12 First-time buyers accounted for about 33 percent of all home buyers based on data from NAR’s 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (HBS). The HBS is a survey of primary residence home buyers and does not capture investor purchases but does cover both existing and new home sales. The RCI Survey is a survey of REALTORS® about their transactions and captures purchases for investment purposes and second homes for existing homes.