Jade Rabino is paying top dollar to rent in Northern Virginia. She just had a baby, and while that is the No. 1 reason for renters to become first-time homebuyers, she is still waiting.
"I think it's just financial mostly, that's what I feel like. Around here the square footage that you get for the amount of money that you put down is not great," said Rabino, a clinical psychologist.
The U.S. economy is improving, employment is growing and home prices are recovering, but first-time homebuyers are not returning to their normal, historical levels of homeownership.
The share of these buyers, who are generally younger Americans, fell to the lowest level in nearly three decades—just 33 percent this year, down from 38 percent a year ago, according to an annual survey of homebuyers by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The long-term average, dating back to 1981, shows that 4 out of 10 purchases are by first-time buyers.