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First-time Homebuyers: 33 Percent of Residential Sales in October 2016

In the monthly REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey, the National Association of REALTORS® asks members the characteristics of the most recent sale that closed in the reference month, including “Was the buyer a first-time buyer?”

The share of first-time home buyers accounted for 33 percent of residential sales in October 2016 (34 percent in September 2016; 31 percent in October 2015), the fifth consecutive month the share has held at above 30 percent.[1] Sustained low mortgage rates and job growth are likely underpinning the sustained, albeit modest, increase in homebuying by first-time buyers. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has stayed below four percent since August 2015, while the unemployment rate has hovered at or below five percent since October 2015.[2]

ft resBuyers 34 years old and under, who are likely to be first-time buyers, accounted for 31 percent of residential buyers in October 2016, (31 percent in September 2016; 28 percent in October 2015). The share of buyers 34 and under has been on an uptrend from the 26 percent share in July 2013 when this information was first collected in the survey.[3]

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Homebuyers who were renting prior to their recent home purchase accounted for 42 percent of sales (41 percent in September 2016; 36 percent in October 2015). The fraction of buyers who were renting prior to their recent home purchase has increased from the 36 percent share in September 2014 when this information was first collected.[4]

living status


[1] First-time buyers accounted for 35 percent of all home buyers based on data from NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (HBS), up from 32 percent in 2016. 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.

[2] Average contract rates on 30-year conventional mortgages reported by Freddie Mac, downloaded from Haver Analytics. The unemployment rate is among the population 16+ years old from the Burea of Labor Statistics, downloaded from Haver Analytics.

[3] NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyer and Sellers (HBS) reports that among primary residence home buyers, 28 percent were 18-34 years old. The HBS surveys primary residence home buyers, while the monthly RCI Survey surveys REALTORS® and also captures purchases for investment purposes and vacation/second homes.

[4] NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyer and Sellers (HBS) reports that among primary residence home buyers, 41 percent rented an apartment or house. The HBS surveys primary residence home buyers, while the monthly RCI Survey surveys REALTORS® and also captures purchases for investment purposes and vacation/second homes.