Housing is recovering in sales and prices, but one segment is stubbornly weak and getting weaker. The share of first-time buyers fell to the lowest level in nearly three decades, just 32 percent of all purchases, according to the National Association of Realtors' annual profile of buyers and sellers. Investors are not included in the survey.
At the same time, the share of buyers saying their primary reason for buying was the simple desire to own rose overall and most dramatically among first-time purchasers.
"There are several reasons why there should be more first-time buyers reaching the market, including persistently low mortgage rates, healthy job prospects for those college-educated, and the fact that renting is becoming more unaffordable in many areas," said Lawrence Yun, the Realtors' chief economist. "Unfortunately, there are just as many high hurdles slowing first-time buyers down. Increasing rents and home prices are impeding their ability to save for a down payment, there's scarce inventory for new and existing-homes in their price range, and it's still too difficult for some to get a mortgage."