Sales to First-Time Buyers: 30 Percent of Sales in May 2016

The share of first-time home buyers accounted for 30 percent of residential sales in May 2016 (32 percent in April 2016; 32 percent in May 2015), according to the May 2016 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey Report.[1] REALTORS® have reported that the lack of supply especially of affordable homes, the difficulty in qualifying for a mortgage, and the inability to make a downpayment have made purchasing a home difficult for potential first-time buyers despite the low-interest rate environment.

first time buyersAccording to NAR’s 2016 Q1 Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) Survey of U.S. households, 63 percent of respondents who currently do not own a home believe it would be difficult to qualify for a mortgage given their current financial situation.[2] The widening gap between gains in income and home prices has made it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage, save for a downpayment, and meet the monthly mortgage payment. As of April 2016, the median family income is up by 10 percent compared to the level in January 2012, while the median price of an existing home is up by 45 percent over this same period[3].Although education increases the likelihood of being a homeowner in the long-run, the level of student debt has also delayed a home purchase, according to a joint survey on student loan debt by NAR and SALT®, a consumer literacy program provided by nonprofit American Student Assistance®. Seventy-one percent of non-homeowners polled in the survey believe their student loan debt is delaying them from buying a home.[4] Those polled in the survey only include borrowers who are currently in repayment.


[1] First-time buyers accounted for about 32 percent of all home buyers based on data from NAR’s 2015 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.  


[3] NAR data used in calculating the Home Affordability Index.