First-time Buyers: 32 Percent of Residential Sales in December 2015

The share of first-time home buyers increased slightly to 32 percent of residential sales in December 2015 (30 percent in November 2015; 29 percent in December 2014), according to the December 2015 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey.

Nationally, sales to first-time home buyers were 31 percent of residential sales in calendar year 2015, essentially unchanged since 2012, the breakout year of the housing market recovery. First-time buyers made up a larger share of the residential market in New York (49 percent), Pennsylvania (41 percent), Illinois (40 percent), New Jersey (40 percent), Massachusetts (38 percent), and Georgia (37 percent). Compared to 2012, first-time homebuyers accounted for a smaller share of the market in California (32 percent) and Washington (31 percent) in 2015, likely on account of the steep price increases since 2012 as well as the preference to rent among young workers who tend to be more professionally mobile early in their careers.

Sustained job creation and the low interest rate environment are sustaining housing demand, but lack of supply, decreased affordability, and difficulty in qualifying for a mortgage are keeping many first-time homebuyers off the market.[1]


[1] Federal Reserve Board, Survey of Households and Economic Decision-making, October 2014. Among renter respondents, 50 percent reported they do not have the downpayment to purchase a home, and 28 percent reported they cannot qualify for a mortgage. See http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/2014-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201505.pdf