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How Prospective First-Time Homebuyers Can Succeed In Today’s Real Estate Market

Fortune May 9, 2023


How Prospective First-Time Homebuyers Can Succeed In Today’s Real Estate Market

With higher mortgage rates and relentless competition for the few houses on the market, homeownership may feel more elusive than ever for young people in America.

Our latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report found that first-time homebuyers accounted for just 26% of all home purchases in the United States last year. That’s the lowest level in 41 years. 

The average first-time homebuyer in America is 36 years old. That’s the oldest age recorded since the association began keeping track of such data.

Some people are waiting longer before buying, especially for more modestly priced starter homes, due to affordability and availability constraints. And a lagging supply of homes for sale is helping keep prices relatively high. In January, for example, there were just 980,000 units on the market across the United States. That’s considerably lower than the pre-pandemic monthly average of around 1.8 million from 2016 to 2019.

January data also indicates that there was a 2.9-month supply of homes for sale, given current sales trends. That’s less than half the supply historically associated with a balanced market.

Given limited supply, and interest rates that are roughly double what they were two years ago, the average annual income needed to afford a home has surged to more than $90,000–a $40,000 increase compared with figures recorded before the pandemic.

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