REALTORS® Report Tight Credit Keeping Buyers on the Sidelines

A new survey released by the National Association of Realtors® provides evidence that restrictive mortgage lending standards have prevented some buyers from becoming homeowners, specifically singles and first-time buyers. According to the 2013 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers the overall market share of single buyers has declined in recent years; the share of first-time buyers also slipped since last year.

Overall market share of single buyers declined from 32 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2012 and 2013. First-time buyers slipped to 38 percent market share in the past year from 39 percent in 2012. Fourteen percent of all survey respondents were multi-generational households, including adult children, parents and/or grandparents. The multi-generational question was added for the first time this year after the trend was identified repeatedly by REALTOR® members. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says this is just another manifestation of the difficulty in obtaining a mortgage, in addition to slow growth in the job market.

“The housing market is recovering, but it’s still plagued by unnecessarily restrictive mortgage lending standards,” said Carl San Miguel, President of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®. “Many qualified buyers are being squeezed out of the market due to their inability to get a loan. The current lending environment tends to favor dual-income households who are more likely to have higher credit scores. Single buyers have been especially suppressed in the past few years.”

According to the survey, the median age of first-time buyers was 31 and the median income was $67,400. The typical first-time buyer purchased a 1,670 square-foot home costing $170,000. Their median downpayment was 5 percent, and 95 percent of entry-level buyers chose a fixed-rate mortgage.

“Fixed-rate mortgages, particularly the 30-year fixed rate have been extremely popular in recent years, most notably among first-time buyers,” said San Miguel. “This is because the payments are predictable and the fixed interest rate makes homeownership viable for many young buyers. First-time buyers also tend to feel more protected in a fixed-rate mortgage than in other mortgage types.”

However, according to the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®, recently proposed legislation and reforms to the secondary mortgage market could put the 30-year fixed rate mortgage at risk and unavailable to many. San Miguel says without the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage many first-time buyers would be in jeopardy. “Consumers need access to safe and sound financing as well as low down payment options. This allows qualified buyers to enter the market and will also ensure a sounder housing recovery.”

SCCAOR says REALTORS® are working hard with key legislators and regulators to address this issue and make sure that those safe and affordable loan products remain available to today’s buyers.

Other findings from the survey include that 60 percent of first-time buyers cited a desire to own a home as the primary reason for purchasing; eight out of 10 recent home buyers said their home is a good investment; and 44 percent believe it’s a better investment than stocks. In addition, 91 percent said they were satisfied with the buying process.

About the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®
SCCAOR, established in 1896, is California’s oldest and Northern California’s largest real estate association. We represent about 10,000 REALTORS® and affiliate members. SCCAOR exists to meet the business, professional and political needs of its members and to promote, protect homeownership and private property rights.

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